A visit to Tham Lod Cave and Cave Lodge Pang Mapha aka Soppong

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by johngooding, Nov 29, 2011.

  1. johngooding

    johngooding Ol'Timer

    Situtated on the Lang River at an altitude of 700m, the cave and the lodge are found 8km off the 1095 between Pai and Mae Hong Son. Coming from Pai, heading toward MHS, just entering Soppong turn right, signposted to Cave Lodge and Tham Lod. A scenic well surfaced road to the Cave visitor centre, with the Lodge a left turn before the visitor centre.
    Some have commented recently that the 1095 is in poor condition. To us it did not seem any worse than previously, some worn areas, some potholes, some dust or sand in places, but nothing to prevent good progress, bearing in mind the usual, haphazard driving standards on this road,and it should probably be said, the bullying nature of some of the buses and grey people transporters. If you are aware of this then it is still a pleasant ride.
    Web site for Cave Lodge is www.cavelodge.com and has a wealth of information about the area and local activities.

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    The accomodation is built into the hillside overlooking the river, it has been gradually developed over the nearly thirty years the owner has been there.
    Basic facilities, but all you need for a quiet stay in a place of natural beauty.
    Best to take a torch to get to your room, or if you wish to take an evening trip to see the swifts and bats exit the cave at dusk. The cave is a 15 minute walk away along the river path, or 20 minutes along the road via the cave visitor centre.

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    Our room, complete with its own climbing wall. Two big double beds, fan, no tv or fridge. Bathroom fine, but no hot water once the days supply used up. Cost to us 750Baht. Very quiet at night, just the cowbells from the cattle grazing across the river to act as earlymorning alarm calls.

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    Sauna, not tested, but the very cool evenings and early mornings may make it attractive.

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    Bike parking safe and a bit of shelter from the trees.

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    Its only a few metres down to the river, to the river bank path, with a swimming hole nearby.
    We took an evening walk to the cave entrance to see the nightly exit of many swifts and later bats. The entrance to the cave is relatively easy to reach and the river then passes through 600metres of cave systems, housing 3 main caverns. We saw some birds, but the main exodus is from the far end of the cave, which is another 10 minutes walking and we did not tackle that as it was going dark and we were unsure of direction. Even with a torch you cannot pass through the cave system without crossing the river twice, so left that for a guided tour the next day.
    A pleasant evening with good food and company at the Lodge, no other easily reaching eating facilities, once the cave visitor centre closes at dusk time.
    Next morning after a well cooked breakfast, we walked to the visitor center and hired a guide complete with paraffin pressure lamp for the tour of the 3 caves.

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    The tour involves sitting on Bamboo rafts to cross or travel the river and walking up easy paths, gangways and steps. There are no tight passageways, or crawling sessions, but these are available locally if thats your thing.

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    The caves are only lit by the guides lamp or your own torch and so not easy to see everything, but many impressive structures formed in the stalagtites and mites. Probably a total of 2 or 3 km walking up and down passageways, or rafting along the river. Well worth the trip and if you do decide to buy the optional 10baht fishfood, you will probably be soaked by all the hungry jumping fish who surround your low lying raft.
    The river exits at the far end of the cave system where the majority of the birds and bats live and the coating on the floor and the assault on your nose confirms this.
    You can take the escorted raft back against the current flow to the entrance, or as we did choose to walk back on the wooded path over the cave system.

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    Flash photography is discouraged within the caves, but this one somehow sneaked in.

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    The power of the river can be seen at this bridge, where the original concrete supports have been uprooted and a new wooden structure somehow built over the top. It would take a good size crane to remove them from the river, and not easy or economical to get that into place.

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    What a great setting for a classroom just before the visitor centre.
    We ate the usual freshly cooked Pad Thai etc at the visitor centre before packing up and heading back to CM. A refreshingly quiet road and great riding on the homeward stretch.
    A thoroughly recommended venue for those who prefer to take some of their entertainment from natural places rather than the bright city lights, and good to see that much of the money spent going into local pockets, for the guides and raft people etc.
     
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  3. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Love the last shot!
    Did you not meet John Spies, truly one of the legendary figures of the area?
     
  4. johngooding

    johngooding Ol'Timer

    Hi Rod,
    Yes he was there, but quite occupied with maintenance and visitors, ours was a quick visit, so not much time to chat
     
  5. Jurgen

    Jurgen Ol'Timer

    Thank you for the write up and nice pictures John. A great incentive to visit the place sometimes. I heard your comments already, but it is a lot better with the pictures :)
     
  6. Tom Forde

    Tom Forde Ol'Timer

    It was good to ride with you and Tuk Ta to Soppong.
    Great photos and a very interesting place to visit.
    I will put it down for a trip with the wife in the near future.

    Cheers
    Tom
     

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