Tag Archives: Tha Khaek Loop

Tha Khaek Loop, Laos – Day 3

Imagine a river disappearing inside a monolithic limestone mountain  and running 7 km through pitch-black, winding cave –  and you have a glimpse of what Kong Lo cave is (sometimes spelled as Kong Lor), truly one of the natural wonders of Laos. This cave-cum-tunnel is quite impressive – up to 100 m wide in some places and almost as high. Boat is naturally a mean of transportation for visiting the cave – a motorised canoe, to be exact. The canoe is operated by two guides (the entrance ticket was 20,000 kip, hiring a boat with guides 100,000 per boat for up to 4 people, so altogether I had to pay 120,000 kip – about 10 euros – as there was nobody around to share the boat with). To pass through the cave one have to spend almost an hour in the canoe (one-way).  I had to change the shoes for flip-flops, as it is not possible to make the journey without going in the water. In the main cavern there are some lights which enable us to get a better look for stalagmites and limestone formations. It pays to bring your own torch – I had my faithful head light with me. It is really a pity that the only light in the cave is only in the main cavern – if there were lights along the entire tunnel, it would definitely make it more attractive and the boat trip would be much more interesting. The visiting to the cave includes going all the way to the other side and a short walk to the local village – there we had a short break for a sip of water – and of course, going back. It all takes about 3 hours. The village itself looked just like any other village – the guide took me to his friend’s house, where they had a little chat about this and that – of course in local language – we had some boiled water and went back. On the photos you can see how locals live in the village.

On the way back to Tha Khaek I have made a stop at the sala viewpoint near Km 36. One should never miss that spot, as the scenery is indeed dramatic (the panoramic photo is just a fraction of how it really feels). I have arrived in Tha Khaek early evening, skipping some places that I was about to see the next day.

From Kong Lo cave (A) to Tha Khaek (B)

Tha Khaek Loop, Laos – Day 2

Ban Oudomsouk is rather large village located in not so high mountains of the Loop. Upon arrival I was welcomed with a nice, fresh and cool air. I stopped at one of the two (only two!) available guest houses, which was run by a German guy with his local wife. The guest house was in a quite picturesque location next to some sort of lake. Since I was travelling alone, I got myself quite comfortable bed in a dorm – which I had all to myself – the dorm, that is (the bed costed me 30,000 kip, which is about 3 euros as of that time). In the evening and at night it was nicely cold so that there was absolutely no need to even use a fan. The next morning I continued my journey right after breakfast. Because of many dams that were built on Laotian rivers (in order to produce electricity), on the way one can spot flooded trees – which is quite a sight on its own and also reminds us that together with the progress, there is always some sort of loss. The road goes through various villages and quite a large part behind Ban Tha Long (one of the other villages on the way) is unpaved. The typical view of the village can be seen on the photos below.

One of the more interesting places on the way was the town of Tha Bak. There wouldn’t be anything special about it if not the fact that this is the only place where one can see bomb boats. The name is somewhat misleading, since the boats were made out of huge missile-shaped drop tanks that carried fuel for jets that were operating here in the 1960s and ’70s. Empty tanks were sometimes dropped and those that didn’t receive too much damage during the hit were turned into boats.

The second day was completed upon arriving in Kong Lo village (or Kong Lor). From here the next morning I was about to see the main attraction on the Loop – the Kong Lo cave.

From Ban Oudomsouk (A) to Kong Lo cave (B)

Tha Khaek Loop, Laos – Day 1

Tha Khaek was my first stop in central Laos, on my way to the south. The city itself is rather small and there is nothing interesting in there. It is located at the Mekong river, just next to the Thai border. Most tourists come here to do the so-called “The Loop” (or Tha Khaek Loop). The Loop is, as you can imagine, a road that goes through the province in a round and comes back to the city. It can be done on a bicycle (a good one, MTB is a must) or on a motorbike (which is the most popular way). The recommended minimum is 3 days, but for most people 4 days would be more suitable, especially if one wants to visit the most important sight in the area – the magnificent Kong Lo cave (spelled sometimes as Kong Lor). Obviously it is possible to find travellers who did the whole thing in 1 day and others who took 5 days. I did the Loop in 4 days. I arrived in Tha Khaek in the evening, the next morning I rented out a motorbike (faithful semi-automatic Zongshen S, 100cc made in China which was an obvious copy of Honda Wave S, as you can see on the photos) and hit the road.  There are many caves located in the surroundings of Tha Khaek. Below you can find photos of the most popular ones, taken on the way to Ban Oudomsouk (Oudomsouk village) – my first overnight stop on the Tha Khaek Loop.

From Tha Khaek (A) to Ban Oudomsouk (B)