Tham Lod Cave is one of the most famous caves in Thailand. This wonderful place, about 880 kilometers from the country’s capital Bangkok, attracts crowds of tourists who, in addition to exploring this cavern, want to take a canoe trip on the local river. While in the country, it is definitely worth adding this point on the map to your touring repertoire in this region of Asia.

Tham Lod Cave, Thailand
Author icon0com, source pxhere.


Tham Lod is one of the most impressive and accessible caves for tourists in Thailand. It is located in the province of Mae Hong Son. It owes this to its size and underground passageways, its limestone stalactite and stalagmite formations, and the so-called “coffin cave”, which is hidden in its deepest part.

Tham Lod is a system of three caves with a total length of 1,666 meters. The caverns are home to colonies of bats and common swifts, which can be seen in the cave’s vault. For almost its entire length, the Lang River (Nam Lang) flows through its center.  Inside the cave, you will see more than 20-meter-high limestone formations in the form of columns, which were formed from the joining of stalagmites with stalactites. There is no lighting in the cave, and the only source of light when visiting this place is the guide’s lamp/flashlight. This makes the cave even more mysterious to visitors, and artificial light (if it had been installed) would probably take away from the charm of the place.

To get into the cave, we need to purchase entrance tickets with a guide. It is not possible to purchase the entrance ticket alone without a guide. Groups are limited to a maximum of three people. The limitation on such a number of people is because, at the beginning, the guide has to transport us on a bamboo raft to the cave so that we can explore the rest of the cavern. First, we will have to take a 15-minute walk from the ticket office, then cross several wooden bridges to get to a makeshift platform inside the cave, from where we will then take a raft along the river to walk down later into the depths of the cave. The parking lot is less than 500 meters from the ticket office.

At the beginning of the cave is a huge “entrance” hole, which is almost 50 meters high. This is where most common swifts are, and there is usually quite a lot of noise, but the effect is spectacular. The first cave is the so-called “Column Cave”. It owes its name precisely to the columns formed of stalactites and stalagmites. In addition, we can find limestone pillars and fossilized “waterfalls”.

To get to the next, second cave, the so-called “Dolls’ Cave”, we have to walk through a narrow and long corridor. There, in turn, we will encounter various rock formations, some of which may resemble the creatures of dolls or animals. In addition, we can see here faded cave paintings that show deer.

The last cave is the “Coffin Cave”. It got its name from the teak coffins found there, which are about 1000–1400 years old. In addition, bronze jewelry and metal tools were also found, suggesting that there was a tribal settlement in the area. This section of the cave is called “Pi Man” in Thai. Locals believe that these caves were created by spirits. If we want to go back to where we started the tour, we have to go over the bamboo bridge to the left of the entrance, and within fifteen minutes we will reach the first part of the cave.


Tham Lod cave was inhabited by the Hoabinhian tribe in ancient times (9,700 BC–5500 BC). However, some scientists claim that it may have been inhabited by representatives of Homo sapiens as early as 40,000 BC. The tribe was a community of Stone Age hunters and gatherers who used primitive tools such as short axes, stone hammers, tools made from animal bones, etc. The caves were first discovered in the 1960s by Chester Gorman, an American anthropologist and archaeologist. According to him, Hoabinhians learned to cultivate legumes and many other fruits or vegetables, such as almonds, betel, pepper, and lagebaria.

Tham Lod Cave, Thailand
Author Michael Scalet, source flickr.


Cave Tham Lod is located about 11 kilometers north of the Pang Mapha District Office. Driving from Pai (which is less than 50 kilometers away) on road 1095, just at the entrance to Pang Mapha, turn right, heading for Cave Lodge and Tham Lod. In Pai, we can rent a car (about 1,200 THB for a full day), a scooter (about 150 THB for a full day), or a motorcycle (about 800 THB for a full day). However, due to the rather steep climbs and sharp turns, it is not recommended to rent a scooter for such a trip. The reason is that there is not much engine power in such a vehicle, so we may have a problem driving up the mountain itself (road No. 1095) in addition to our luggage. On the other hand, much lower rental prices, reaching about 20–25%, are in Chiang Mai. However, in this case, we must remember that this town is almost 180 kilometers away from Tham Lod. On the way, it is worth stopping at the beautiful viewpoint of Doi Kiew Lom.

Source Google Maps.
Source Google Maps.



The best time of year to visit Tham Lod Cave is during the dry season (January–July). During this period, there are bamboo boat tours to the inside of the cave. During the rainy season (August–December), boat tours may not be available due to high water levels, and some deeper parts of the caves may not be accessible. Pending the rainy months, of course, you can still explore the caves on foot.

During the rainy season (July–August to December, depending on the river level), Cave Lodge organizes interesting canoe trips. Some canoe routes pass through Tham Lod and then continue downstream for 6–12 km. On some tours, you can visit other deserted caves along the way.


The Tham Lod cave tour takes about 2 hours, including the time it takes to walk from the parking lot to the cave and return from the cave back to the point where the ticket office is located.

Tham Lod Cave, Thailand
Author Vyacheslav Argenberg, source commons.wikimedia.org.


If you plan to visit Tham Lod cave on your own without any tourist bureau, then the cost is 650–800 THB (about £15 or $20 for 2023). This amount includes:

Entrance ticket: 200 THB per person for entry to the first cave (column cave), 250 THB per person for the two caves (column cave and doll cave), and 500 THB per person for all three caves (column cave, doll cave, and coffin cave, including rafting).

Rafting: 400 THB (up to 3 people if you choose the option to visit one or two caves).

Guide: 150 THB (you cannot enter the cave without a guide).

Each person must purchase an entrance ticket, but the price of the guide and boat can be shared among the group. Example: If a group of three people wants to visit Tham Lod Cave, the total price is as follows: 600 baht (for three entrance tickets), 400 baht for the boat, and 150 baht for the guide. A total of 1150 baht for the group (about £24 or US$30).

Tham Lod Cave is open from 9:00 am to 6:00 p.m.

Please note: the cave is inaccessible to wheelchair users.

If you would rather not take care of organizing the trip yourself, you can look for a tourist office in Pai town along the main road that organizes trips to Tham Lod.

The area around the cave, source mapy.cz.


If we would like to stay longer in this place, the best option would be to look for accommodation in Pai village. The village is a beautiful little locality located in the jungle. Pai has many places to stay, plenty of charming little restaurants and cafés, and a market selling food, clothing, and souvenirs. The village also has a very picturesque river with bamboo bridges.

Recommended apartments:

Oia Pai Resort – a tidbit, we move around the hotel in canoes.

Reverie Siam Resort – is a 5-star hotel.

Golden Hut Chill Bungalows – bungalows next to the bank of the river.

Pencave Homestay, Jungle Guesthouse, Pai Village Boutique.


We will mainly walk around the cave on slippery rocks and wooden bridges. It is advisable to wear footwear with a good sole/lug (not athletic shoes).

Be sure to check and monitor your fuel level before traveling, as there are no gas stations near the cave. Gasoline in Thailand costs about 40–50 THB per liter (2023).

If you plan to stay there for a longer period of time, don’t forget to take some essentials such as snacks, drinking water, sunscreen, headgear (a hat, cap), sunglasses, and, of course, a camera 😊. You can take a flashlight with you into the cave, BUT we only use it if we will be walking through the cave to shine under our feet as we walk. We do NOT shine it on the walls or the vault to avoid scaring the birds there and the bats.

Remember to tell the ticket agent at the checkout what kind of ticket we want to buy (how many caves we would like to see). If you forget to do so, don’t be surprised if you get an entrance ticket for only one cave when, for example, you wanted to visit all of them.

Plan your visit around 5:00–6:00 p.m. because at this time hundreds of bats fly out of the cave for their nightly insect hunt and about 300,000 common swifts return to their nests.

Tham Lod Cave, Thailand
Author Michael Scalet, source flickr.


  • There are plenty of fish to feed in the shallow waters of the cave. Food for them costs 50 THB per bag.


  • If we would like to get from Pai village to Tham Lod cave by cab, it is possible. The price per person is about 800 THB.


  • Several scenes for the movie “Thugs of Hindostan” (filmed by Bollywood) were shot in this cave.


  • More than 100,000 people visit this cave every year.
Tham Lod Cave, Thailand
Author Michael Scalet, source flickr.



In conclusion, Tham Lod Cave is a must-see for anyone visiting the northern part of Thailand. Its natural beauty, cultural significance, and rafting on the river that flows through its center make it an unforgettable experience. In addition to exploring the cave and marveling at the local limestone formations and paintings, let’s not forget that every evening a fantastic spectacle takes place here in the form of bats flying out to hunt at night and common swifts returning to their hiding places.

Author Vyacheslav Argenberg, source commons.wikimedia.org.

Author Vyacheslav Argenberg, source commons.wikimedia.org.

Author icon0com, source pxhere.

Author icon0com, source pxhere.

Author icon0com, source pxhere.

Author icon0com, source pxhere.



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