When we were planning for things to do in Pai and Chiang Mai, we definitely wanted to visit a cave. You may wonder why. There are so many caves in Thailand and some are amazing. Some caves have temples housing Buddha statues inside, some caves were used for burial, some are abundant in flora, and fauna and also some with huge limestone stalactite and stalagmite formations. The history that these caves houses are of interest to us which automatically ensures we get to visit them wherever we go. Tham Lod Caves in Pai was considered good, and offbeat, so that was our choice, obviously 🙂
Tham Lod Caves
This is in Mae Hong Son Province which is near Pai. The Tham Lod caves are 1,666 metres in length and the river that goes right from the beginning till the end of the cave is the Lang River (Nam Lang). The geological formations from the base to the top, huge columns, various shapes and sizes of stalactites and stalagmites which have formed together, etc makes it very interesting to explore. It is believed to have been inhabited by the Lawa tribes making this a very ancient cave.
We signed up with a tour agency in the Pai Walking Street and about 10-12 of us were taken in a big sized SUV from Pai. We chose the evening tour to sight the swift birds that come in thousands to the cave around sunset. While there is no entry fee as such to enter Tham Lod Caves, one can explore this place only with a local guide (who charge a fee of THB 150 per person). They are the local women who will carry their lanterns and show you around the caves.
Exploring the Tham Lod Cave
Once you reach the entrance, a short walk will lead you to the mouth of the cave. As you enter, you will understand that the lanterns are your best friend as it is pitch dark. Also, some of the places were slippery, the stairs were too small for big-footed people like us, so better to be careful while exploring the caves.
Within no time, you get to see huge columns that would have taken million so years to form. Some of the formations resembled shapes like a crocodile, frog, Buddha, and even one that looks like a human breast! The local lady guide showed us the unique formations, prehistoric paintings, etc around the cave. For the first time, we saw something called Helictites.
You will have to hunch in many places, and suddenly you will see such a huge open space with various formations. The first two caves are accessible by walk while the third can be reached using the bamboo raft. This is what makes visiting caves adventurous.
To reach the third cave (there are three sets of caves in Tham Lod), you will have to ride on a bamboo raft. You can feed the fish as you go along the Lang River. You can also spot many bats that will be on the roof of the caves. As you approach the other cave, bright light with a lush green picture will make you go wow. You will automatically start taking pictures of this beautiful sight.
Third Cave in Tham Lod
The smell of the place took over once we got out of the raft. Welcome to the Bats paradise 🙂 While I couldn’t adjust to the smell, the explorer in me did not stop wanting to go further inside the caves. Closing my nose and ensuring I don’t touch the railings of the staircase, I caught up with my guide. Long wooden teak boxes, which are believed to be the coffins for burial is found here. This was quite eerie and at the same time interesting. It shows how the natives were small in size as they are today.
I stood for some time watching the swift birds do their thing before taking the bamboo ride.
You can stay in this area as well and we did see a few places for accommodation. Activities like kayaking, exploring the beautiful landscape with its valleys and limestone cliffs, visiting remote hill tribe villages, and watching the bird show nearby Tham Lod cave is possible.
Sweaty and tired but we were happy to have explored Tham Lod Caves 🙂 as a part of our three days in Pai!