Tham Lot: Inside Thailand's Biggest Cave

Tham Lot Cave, Mae Hong Son
Tham Lot Cave, Mae Hong Son | © 家禎 張/Flickr
Iona Proebst

Explore the magical world of Thailand’s biggest cave. Hike or raft your way through huge chambers, see signs of prehistoric life and marvel at nature’s glory. Read on to discover why Tham Lot should be on every northern Thailand travel itinerary.

Tham Lot Cave is located in Pang Mapha District, in Mae Hong Province, northern Thailand. This giant limestone cave is an impressive cave system with a length of 1,666 meters. Tham Lot’s most impressive feature, besides sheer size, is that the Nam Lang River flows through the cave creating a magical subterranean mysterious wonderland, waiting to be explored.

Rafting in Tham Lot cave

Ancient history

Tham Lot was once inhabited by prehistoric man, making it a particularly attractive place to visit for archaeological enthusiasts. Ancient clay pottery and carved teak wood coffins have been exhumed from the rooms within the cave. The coffins are thought to have been carved by the Lawa tribe thousands of years ago and hold important insight into the former cave residents. Pottery remains found in the cave are exhibited at the Nature Study Centre at the cave grounds.

Tham Lot is home to spectacular stalactites and stalagmites, bats, swifts and of course the much talked about ‘coffin caves.’ To explore the caves, you need to hire a gas lantern and a local guide to help navigate. You can also choose to see the sites of the cave by raft. Of particular interest are the Column Cavern, Doll Cave and Coffin Cave. It is advised to time your visit so you are exiting the caves at sunset when thousands of swifts fly into Tham Lot to resume their sleeping position clinging onto the stalagmites – quite a sight to behold.

A local guide prepares a gas lantern


Basic accommodation and camping options are available near the Tham Lot Nature Study Centre. You can also stay at the ever-popular Cave Lodge in nearby Soppong. Cave Lodge offers bungalows nestled in the jungle, a great community vibe and very friendly staff. The Cave Lodge team also offer tours of the Tham Lot cave as well as kayaking and trekking.

Cosy Cave Lodge

How to get there?

Tham Lot is enroute from Pai to Mae Hong Son and is easy to reach by motorbike or public transport. From Chiang Mai, simply take the four-hour local bus ride from Arcade bus station heading to Mae Hong Son and hop off at Soppong/Pang Mapha. From there, it’s a short motorbike taxi to Tham Lot or nearby accommodation options.

Opening hours: 8 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.

Tham Lot, Pang Mapha District, Mae Hong Son, Thailand

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article