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Tham Lod Caves (Tham Lot) in Sop Pong (สบป่อง) near Pai are one of the most impressive Thailand caves. Cave exploration, Bamboo rafting through Lang River, Coffin caves and bats flying out in evening are the top things to do at this Soppong cave - Motorbike backpacking trip across Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand

Tham Lod Caves in Sop Pong (สบป่อง) Pai Thailand

North Thailand is home to most splendid caves of the region and Tham Lod Caves in Sop Pong – สบป่อง ( (Also known as Tham Nam Lod and  Tham Lot Caves at times) is one of the most impressive and easily accessible of them.

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Huge dark chambers, massive colourful stalactites and stalagmites, pre-historic teak-wood coffins, experience of bamboo rafting, and beautiful site of thousands of birds flying in and bats flying out every evening – Tham Lod offers multiple unique experiences at one place to make it one of the most memorable exploration trip for you.

Tham Lod Caves (Tham Lot) in Sop Pong (สบป่อง) near Pai are one of the most impressive Thailand caves. Cave exploration, Bamboo rafting through Lang River, Coffin caves and bats flying out in evening are the top things to do at this Soppong cave - Motorbike backpacking trip across Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand
Cave Entrance as captured from inside

Tham Lod Caves are situated in this remote Tham Lot village (Pang Mapha District), near Sop Pong -สบป่อง ( at times also pronounced as Sappong). After a fascinating scooter ride from Pai, we reached Cave Lodge Guesthouse at around 1 PM, dropped our luggage and left for the caves (walking distance from the Cave Lodge). After paying our entry fee (refer Entry Fee section for details), we soon were walking behind a guide with lantern. Main cave entrance is around 350 meters walk from the parking area. A quick walk and we were in front of the cave entrance with green settings and Lang river flowing right into the entrance of the river and vanishing under it.

Tham Lod Caves (Tham Lot) in Sop Pong (สบป่อง) near Pai are one of the most impressive Thailand caves. Cave exploration, Bamboo rafting through Lang River, Coffin caves and bats flying out in evening are the top things to do at this Soppong cave - Motorbike backpacking trip across Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand
Entrance to Tham Lod Caves

Inside Tham Nam Lod Caves – 3 Huge Caverns

The “Tham” in Thai means cave and “Nam Lod” refers to “a river flow through it”. Tham Lod, with a total length of 800 meters, is formed by the dissolution of limestone over million years and created a massive river tunnel with 3 huge side caverns –

Tham Lod Caves (Tham Lot) in Sop Pong (สบป่อง) near Pai are one of the most impressive Thailand caves. Cave exploration, Bamboo rafting through Lang River, Coffin caves and bats flying out in evening are the top things to do at this Soppong cave - Motorbike backpacking trip across Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand
Map of Tham Lod Caves
  1. Big Column Cave: The first cave with beautiful stalactite and stalagmite structures has a  big column of 21.45 meters in the middle of the cave.
  2. Doll Cave:  This second cave, up slant stairs, has several beautiful structures resembling dolls, crocodile, snake and other interesting shapes. There is also a pre-historic deer painting in this cave.
  3. Coffin Cave (Pi Man Cave): There are pre-historic teakwood coffins (around 14,00 years old) and ancient human corpses found in this cave making it one of the most famous among other 80 caves in Pang Ma Pha District. Shan people (local villagers) believe that the these caves are made by spirits called ” Pi Man”.

Big Column cave and Doll cave

Here are the pictures from the first two caves inside Tham Lod –

Tham Lod Caves (Tham Lot) in Sop Pong (สบป่อง) near Pai are one of the most impressive Thailand caves. Cave exploration, Bamboo rafting through Lang River, Coffin caves and bats flying out in evening are the top things to do at this Soppong cave - Motorbike backpacking trip across Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand
Wooden bamboo path way to walk inside the cave
Tham Lod Caves (Tham Lot) in Sop Pong (สบป่อง) near Pai are one of the most impressive Thailand caves. Cave exploration, Bamboo rafting through Lang River, Coffin caves and bats flying out in evening are the top things to do at this Soppong cave - Motorbike backpacking trip across Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand
There are multiple huge pillars from roof to floor
Tham Lod Caves (Tham Lot) in Sop Pong (สบป่อง) near Pai are one of the most impressive Thailand caves. Cave exploration, Bamboo rafting through Lang River, Coffin caves and bats flying out in evening are the top things to do at this Soppong cave - Motorbike backpacking trip across Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand
You have to negotiate rickety wooden slant stairs to reach to Doll cave
Tham Lod Caves (Tham Lot) in Sop Pong (สบป่อง) near Pai are one of the most impressive Thailand caves. Cave exploration, Bamboo rafting through Lang River, Coffin caves and bats flying out in evening are the top things to do at this Soppong cave - Motorbike backpacking trip across Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand
Faded Deer painting from pre-historic period inside Doll cave
Tham Lod Caves (Tham Lot) in Sop Pong (สบป่อง) near Pai are one of the most impressive Thailand caves. Cave exploration, Bamboo rafting through Lang River, Coffin caves and bats flying out in evening are the top things to do at this Soppong cave - Motorbike backpacking trip across Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand
Crocodile shaped structure inside Doll Cave – Many like this

Bamboo Rafting to Coffin Caves

Coffin Caves are situated at the rear Exit of the Tham Lod Caves and you have to on-board bamboo rafts to reach to these caves. The Lang river flows through more than a third of the cave’s length, giving you an opportunity to float through on bamboo rafts. Bat hangs from the top making screeching sound and you can see fishes jumping in the water below you. During monsoon, when river level is high, you can also go for kayaking through the caves.

Tham Lod Caves (Tham Lot) in Sop Pong (สบป่อง) near Pai are one of the most impressive Thailand caves. Cave exploration, Bamboo rafting through Lang River, Coffin caves and bats flying out in evening are the top things to do at this Soppong cave - Motorbike backpacking trip across Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand
Bamboo Raft inside Tham Lod Caves (Tham Lot) in Sop Pong (สบป่อง)
Tham Lod Caves (Tham Lot) in Sop Pong (สบป่อง) near Pai are one of the most impressive Thailand caves. Cave exploration, Bamboo rafting through Lang River, Coffin caves and bats flying out in evening are the top things to do at this Soppong cave - Motorbike backpacking trip across Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand
Exit view of the Caves
Tham Lod Caves (Tham Lot) in Sop Pong (สบป่อง) near Pai are one of the most impressive Thailand caves. Cave exploration, Bamboo rafting through Lang River, Coffin caves and bats flying out in evening are the top things to do at this Soppong cave - Motorbike backpacking trip across Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand
Bamboo rafts at the cave exit
Tham Lod Caves (Tham Lot) in Sop Pong (สบป่อง) near Pai are one of the most impressive Thailand caves. Cave exploration, Bamboo rafting through Lang River, Coffin caves and bats flying out in evening are the top things to do at this Soppong cave - Motorbike backpacking trip across Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand
Coffin remnants in the Coffin Cave (Pi Man cave)

Bollywood movie shooting at Tham Lod

When we were leaving for caves from Cave Lodge, they told us that some shooting is going on at caves with a famous Indian celebrity. Got excited, when we reached to cave exit, we realized it was Aamir Khan shooting for his movie ‘Thugs of Hindoostan‘. We could grab some pics of  Aamir Khan and the crew shooting on the opposite bank of river.

Tham Lod Caves (Tham Lot) in Sop Pong (สบป่อง) near Pai are one of the most impressive Thailand caves. Cave exploration, Bamboo rafting through Lang River, Coffin caves and bats flying out in evening are the top things to do at this Soppong cave - Motorbike backpacking trip across Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand

Tham Lod Caves (Tham Lot) in Sop Pong (สบป่อง) near Pai are one of the most impressive Thailand caves. Cave exploration, Bamboo rafting through Lang River, Coffin caves and bats flying out in evening are the top things to do at this Soppong cave - Motorbike backpacking trip across Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand

Swifts and Bats at Tham Lod Caves

This would be the best part of your visit to Tham Lod Caves. The cave is home to large numbers of bats and swifts and each evening, thousands of bats fly out of cave mouth (both entrance and exit) and swifts fly in. It is an amazing site to watch this phenomenon.

Phenomenon usually starts around 5:30 PM and goes on till 7:00 PM. But we had to wait longer as lights from movie shooting were still on. Once we switched off the lights, then we started seeing the magic. We went to the cave exit by walking a 1 KM trail on the cave side (refer above map for the details).

Tham Lod Caves (Tham Lot) in Sop Pong (สบป่อง) near Pai are one of the most impressive Thailand caves. Cave exploration, Bamboo rafting through Lang River, Coffin caves and bats flying out in evening are the top things to do at this Soppong cave - Motorbike backpacking trip across Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand
Bats flying out and swifts flying inside the cave – A unique daily phenomenon at Tham Lod Caves

Things to take care for Tham Lod visit

  • It takes around two hours to visit caves. Do carry a torch light to explore better in dark chambers
  • Be with guide strictly. There are many dark zones and chances are that you may get lost alone or at least get hurt slipping in unknown areas.
  • Not for faint heart people – Especially dark and big caverns. Stairs to the top of Doll cave are really steep
  • You need a good amount of fitness to walk across the cave, so extra caution needed if you are with children and elderly people
  • Wear comfy shoes – A must

Where to stay for your Tham Lod visit

Cave Lodge (Book here on Booking.com) is the best accommodation option in Tham Lot. Though rooms are basic but they provide excellent guidance to explore caves and area around. Owned by John who himself is an explorer and has explored many caves in the region, they offer multiple cave exploration, hiking and trekking options for which you can enroll on the spot.

We had a scooter for our Mae Hong Son Loop backpacking and thus easily drove up to Cave Lodge using Google maps.

Tham Lod Caves (Tham Lot) in Sop Pong (สบป่อง) near Pai are one of the most impressive Thailand caves. Cave exploration, Bamboo rafting through Lang River, Coffin caves and bats flying out in evening are the top things to do at this Soppong cave - Motorbike backpacking trip across Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand
At cave Lodge, Tham Lot

Tham Lod Caves Entry Fee and Opening Hours

You can not enter the caves without a guide. So your entrance fee is inclusive of guide fees and bamboo raft (must to reach Coffins cave through river). Total fee for 2 of us including Entry Fee, Guides and Bamboo Rafting was 450 Thai Bahts. It was worth the experience and also money paid goes to the Shan villagers, who also construct and maintain the bamboo ladders and walkways in the caves.

Tham Lod exploration was indeed an offbeat experience for us and we would strongly recommend a visit to these magnificent caves if you are on your way across Mae Hong Son Loop.

Opening Hours: 8 AM to 5:30 PM 

Happy Exploration !!

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