Published: December 4th 2009November 27th 2009
After getting off the Vientiane bound bus at Vieng Kham along route 13 we set off in search of sawngthaew - these are ‘jumbo’ tuk tuks that have a fixed route and a fixed price per person; they pretty much operate like a bus. We found one heading to Ban Khoun Kham also known as Ban Na Hin and made the 41km journey east along route 8; we arrived at the central market and headed off in search of a bed. We can’t remember the name of the place where we stayed but it was really nice and cost 80,000 kip.
Ban Khoun Kham is a pretty cool little place, it’s very much a one street ‘town’ with a market at the end, so we had a wander in search of food and an ice cold one, which of course we found, choosing a yummy local curry and rice to compliment our ice cold one! The town goes really quiet after about 8pm so we headed back to the guesthouse for some games of cards and a final beer before bed.
We got up early the next day and ventured out to navigate our way to Tham Kong Lo
and the main reason we are in this part of Laos - the 7km cave! We learnt that a Sawngthaew departed for Tham Kong Lo at 10am so we clambered aboard and waited while the driver drove around town collecting food from the market to take where we were heading and also drumming up more business. The cost is 50,000 kip each return and the trick was you pay the dude on returning back to town otherwise they don’t hang about waiting for you, then you’re stuck 50 km away in the middle of nowhere, incidentally those who are motorbike enthusiast’s a scooter cost 100,000 kip per day to hire, the same price for a couple to get there by Sawngthaew.
On arrival at Tham Kong Lo we hired a boat to take us through the cave, it came equipped with 2 ‘crew’ and lifejackets and cost 115,000 kip between three people, the boat was a motorised canoe. We walked to the mouth of the cave and clambered aboard and set off into the dark. As we’ve already said the cave is 7km long, and in parts it can be 100m high, it’s a massive cave and it’s so
dark. At certain parts of the way we had to jump out of the canoe while the 2 ‘crew’ pushed, pulled and carried it over rocks and mini rapids, sometimes the driver sped up and tried to navigate across the rocks, well stones and pebbles, without getting out of the boat, which he does with some success.
Along the way we stop off at a place where you can get off the canoe and have a wonder around some fantastic stalactites and stalagmites which they light up nicely when you arrive so you can actually see where you’re going.
After some time, we saw light at the end of the tunnel, where the canoe slowly made its way out of the cave into the most beautiful scenery with large mountains, lush vegetation and gorgeous blue lagoons. We got to stop here for about 10mins for a wonder around to take some snaps. After which we headed back into the darkness of the cave, the only light coming from our torches and the crew’s head lamps to make our way back to where we came from. You couldn’t do this on your own, there’s so many other tunnels leading
to who knows where, if you didn’t know where you were you’d be stuck for a very long time!!!
The whole trip took about 3 hours and was seriously one of the highlights of our Laos adventure, it is an absolute must in our eyes to go and see it yourself.
There are more photos below