Darkness and light in Lam Khlong Ngu
Kanchanaburi's Lam Khlong Ngu National Park opens two of its best attractions -- Sao Hin and Nok Nang Aen caves -- for roughly two months a year. In 2020, the period runs from Feb 29 to May 4.
Each cave features a stream running through it, but otherwise the two are very different. Tham Sao Hin is a world of pitch-black darkness. Its highlight is a towering limestone pillar that measures over 62m in height, making it one of the tallest in the world.
Tham Nok Nang Aen, meanwhile, is a cavern with a partially collapsed ceiling. This allows in sunlight, giving visitors a clear view of their surroundings and where they are going. Just as well, as there are several points along the cave trail that require going into the water. A visit to Tham Sao Hin needs the whole day, while a tour of Tham Nok Nang Aen takes just half a day.
Sao Hin cave. photo:
In order to protect the caves from the effects of overtourism, visitor numbers are restricted. Lam Khlong Ngu, which is 174km northwest of Kanchanaburi town, does not allow walk-in tourists to visit either cave (the restriction does not apply to other park attractions, such as Nang Khruan Waterfall). Anybody wishing to visit Tham Sao Hin or Tham Nok Nang Aen must book a guided tour in advance. The tours will be conducted every weekend during the visiting period.
Registered visitors are divided into groups, each with no more than 10 members. Each group is accompanied by three guides, at least one of whom is a park ranger. Transportation to the trailheads, meals and life vests are provided for a fee.
Registration can only be made via telephone at 082-247-3352 on Feb 3-7 between 1pm and 3pm. Miss that window and you'll have to wait until next year. Before you decide to register, make sure you are familiar with the rules and requirements, as well as what the excursions involve. For more information, go to Lam Khlong Ngu National Park's Facebook page or call 084-913-2381.