May 18, 2016
Visiting the Nam Lot and the Pha Khong Caves of Phan District
GPS waypoint: 19°31'07.9"N 99°39'24.4"E
Location: Tambon Pa Hung, Amphoe Phan, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57120, Thailand
Just 15.3 kms from the town center of Phan lies 2 caves - the Nam Lot and the Pha Khong Caves. My yogini hostess, Amm Prajna Pitchaya, gave us detailed instructions on how to reach it. Together with Sita, a newfound yogini friend at I met at the shala, on a rented bicycle, we headed out west from the town's police station, leisurely biking the mildly graded road. Along the way, Sita and I covered a lot of things in our talk as we cycled through the countryside. We hardly noticed how far we've come until we reached the place. We veered off the paved road and rode about 100 meters into a dirt road until we saw the two cave openings, roughly 20 meters apart. Except for an area keeper who didn't speak English, the whole place was empty.
Pha Khong Cave opening
Pha Khong Cave
Shallow water from a stream running out of the cave flowed into a nearby river. Sita and I ventured about 10 meters into the cave and stopped. We didn't really have proper equipment to push through. Neither was a guide available. The cave was wide with high ceilings. Further in was a light. Perhaps it was the end of the cave as it opened up on the other side, but we could not confirm it.
Nam Lot Cave
Unlike its sister cave, Nam Lot Cave is dry with a wide and high entrance you can casually walk into until you come to a junction. From there, I saw 4 possible passages, two of them you'll have to squeeze yourself down to. One needed a rope to climb up to and the other seemed to be the more accessible opening. Again, we stopped there.
There were concrete picnic tables on the grounds with ample shade. Sita and I took our peanuts out and made a picnic of it. Again, we shared ideas, insight and experience as we passed the time away. It was good bonding.
The whole trip wasn't as much into caving as it was simply being 'out there', soaking in the sun and feeling the wind catch our hair as we cycled leisurely while sharing thoughts and ideas. It was refreshing to have it that way - a good break from any kind of adrenaline adventure. Maybe that's for next time. Thank you Sita, that ride made my day.
Nam Lot and Pha Khong Caves
- Phan is not a tourist destination. The few foreigners you see here are expats who chose to live here. The closest big city is Chiang Rai, one hour north.
This is more complicated even though Phan is closer to Chiang Mai than Chiang Rai. There are 3 ways.
- Go to Chiang Rai Bus Station 1 (the old one) and catch a van for Phan, B40, one hour. The van will pass through the main road of Phan
- Direct - you get on the bus in Phan and you get off in Chiang Mai. But this is the longest route because the bus makes a circular route south passing through Payao, Lampan, Lamphun before it reaches Chiang Mai - B165, 5 hours!
- via Chiang Rai - you can take many buses going north to Chiang Rai (B40, one hour), and transfer to a bus there for Chiang Mai (3 hours)
- via Mae Lao - (recommended) at the old market, ride a blue songthaew headed for Mae Lao (30 mins, B25). Ask to be dropped off the main intersection where you walk about 200 meters towards 7-11 to catch the Green Bus for Chiang Mai (2.5 hours, B166). You'll arrive at the Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3 (aka Arcade). You'll need to ride a red songthaew to get to the city center (10 min, B50)
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- Nam Lot and the Pha Khong Caves - 15 kms from town center
- Pha Khong Waterfall - this is not too far from the twin caves
Amm Prajna Pitchaya
(May 20, 2016) Lucky that it rained in the night just before the ride.
May 18, 2016
»» next story: Yoga with Amm Prajna Pitchaya and the Sivananda yoga community of Phan
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