The Tham Lot Caves houses a succession of chambers routing over 1,500 meters long near Soppong in the Pang Mapha district, Mae Hong Son Province. The Nam Lang River, muddy and roaring year round, flows through the stalactite and stalagmite filled caverns. They’re relatively close to the small town of Pai, and are accessible via road on a motorbike or bus.
Few signs will guide your way though, so make sure to pinpoint the destination before starting off. Price varies based on tour options, where you can visit from one to three caves. The farthest cavern supposedly has ancient cave paintings still intact on its walls, while the closest has a massive room over 60 meters tall. Unfortunately, due to flooding that can occur during any season, some of the caves can be unexpectedly flooded, and thus inaccessible.
A lantern bearing guide, who charges less than 150 Baht per person, is required for entry into the cave. The pitch black interior caverns and inescapable river access makes a knowledgeable guide necessary for even the most daring adventurers. This guide will walk you along a dirt path to the entrance of the first cavern, where you’ll meet another group of guides and a flock of bamboo rafts. A short ride later, which consists a guide wielding a very long wooden stick slowly propelling you into the dark unknown, and you’ll find yourself in the first of the caverns. These guides have a limited English vocabulary, but are incredibly entertaining with their naming of the rock formations and occasional attempt at frightening the living daylights out of you. With few visitors and pristine preservation, these caves are truly an amazing time investment, whether you’re in the area or not.
Written by: Grace Van Kirk
Photo credit: Grace and Review Chiang Mai