Mae Hong Son is a province of many wondrous elements, pristine nature and charming cultural diversity. since the province is home to many ethnic groups that live together in harmony. Those unique elements are so alluring that the long and winding roads leading to Mae Hong Son do not deter travellers from near and far.
Pai is a small town situated in a valley; its postcard-perfect scenery has turned this agricultural community into a hot spot for tourism. The beautiful views of endless mountains and the river that runs through this remote town make Pai an attractive choice for a tranquil holiday. Many artists and designers are residents of Pai and live beside members of many ethnic groups. Villagers open up their homes to provide accommodation, restaurants and businesses to cater to the needs of their guests.
Not far from Pai is a destination I always enjoy visiting: Tham Lot. Though I have been there many times, still Tham Lot never fails to excite me. It is a pleasant, one-hour drive from Pai, with picturesque mountains and villages along the way. Tham Lot is about 9 km off the main road, in Amphoe Pang Ma Pha.
The high-roofed Tham Lot is adorned with magnificent stalactites and stalagmites, one stalagmite column towering over 20 metres. The cave is divided into lots of chambers, such as Tham Sao Hin, Tham Tukta, and the innermost Tham Phee Man, where an ancient coffin was found.
It is believed that the coffin dates back to prehistoric times, more than a thousand years. Visitors need to climb up a ladder to reach this chamber.
Getting into Tham Lot is both fun and adventurous. Visitors float into the cave aboard a bamboo raft rowed by two local villagers equipped with a lantern.
Whenever I visit Tham Lot, I usually stay at a small waterfront guesthouse for its simplicity and to be close to nature. This way there is no need to hurry and I have more time to observe the life of the people around Tham Lot. The best time to enjoy Tham Lot is in the late afternoon but not too late so you can get out and reach the cave entrance before the last light to watch the colony of bats fly out to start their day or, to be more precise, their night! At the same time, a flock of swallows flies back inside the cave to their nests; quite busy traffic indeed. The natural lives around Tham Lot are definitely wondrous.
How to Get There
Fly from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Then take a minivan or a bus from the bus terminal, along Road 1095. It takes about three hours to reach Pai and another hour to Pang Ma Pah. You will need a guide to get into the cave; guides come from the local community.