Soppong’s Tham Lod Cave
Soppong is a perfect place to go for a day or two to get away from a town filled with hippies and be completely immersed in the woods. There are many caves in the area to occupy the avid explorer, but Tham Lod cave was what caught my attention to visit Soppong.
This 1666m long cave is where the Nam Lang River flows through and is filled with really awesome stalagmites and stalactites formations that drip from the ceiling and accumulates on the ground. Entering the pitch dark cave on a bamboo raft, the only illumination we had was from the oil lamp that our guide had brought with us. The cave was huge and takes quite a while to explore it all.
We met our guide and started our journey from the opening of the cave! All looks normal for now.
The guides will often tell you there’s areas that are restricted to access but if you would like to go off the beaten path, it is possible. Just be well equipped with a lamp/torch and be prepared for creepy crawlers lurking around such as spiders, bugs and bats. Climbing up some bamboo stairs took us to the top of the cave where teakwood coffins lay, which apparently have been carved by Lawa tribespeople thousands of years ago.
We hiked through the cave to the exit and was greeted by a lush scenery of calm waters. Unfortunately the cave floor was decorated Jackson Pollock style with bird and bat droppings. The lingering pungent odour from shit was also horrendous. But putting that aside, this was where the evening highlight was. Supposedly, thousands of birds fly around at the cave exit and then into the cave at sunset while the bats would fly out to hunt for the night.
Soppong Cave Lodge
We rolled up with no prior booking, just an address from the guide book and the motor taxis took us there. It was about 8km from where the bus dropped us off and didn’t cost too much! Quite an exciting ride up too!
The place was basic, perfect for fuss free travellers. We stayed in the dorm and had some acoustic jam sessions throughout the night. The lodge also plan tours to Tham Lod Cave as well so booking with them was the best option seeing that there were no other shops/establishments around the area.
$$$: 120baht – 150baht for dorms, 300baht for singles and 400-600baht for doubles/twin.
How to get there:
From Chiang Mai
Take a a regular bus (about 6 hours) or a minibus (about 4 hours) from the Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Station. This should be going in the direction of Mae Hong Son, passing by Pai. If you are headed there from Pai, it will only take about 2 hours.
Upon arriving in Soppong, there is no other public transport around the area. So the only option is to hop on a motorbike taxi.
Biking from Chiangmai or Pai:
Ride through the hairpin bend roads that wind up into the mountains towards Mae Hong Son. The distance covers approximately 165km from Chiang Mai to Pai and another 55km from Pai to Soppong via highway 1095.
Hiking from Pai:
For the adventurous, there is a trek that goes over the mountains and takes approximately 3 days. But be warned that this is not an easy hike and would require some navigation and survival skills.