Mae Lana Cave
Mae Lana Cave
5
What people are saying
ManuElaKa
By ManuElaKa
A demanding - but more than rewarding - cave experience
Feb 2018
Before actually describing the beautiful Mae Lana Cave, I'd like to provide some information which I consider especially important, and which I would have been very happy to have before going. There are surprisingly few reviews so far to be found on the internet, so here we go: First and, at least for me, maybe most important: The guides DO provide you with water resistant shoes that have a profile with some grip. I was so worried about ruining my leather hiking boots, and didn't feel comfortable wearing only Flip Flops in a slippery cave with a river inside, that I bought a pair of 5€ plastic sneakers on the market in Mae Hong Son, which had a bit of a profile and which I could ruin without worries. But you can get shoes at the entrance to the cave area, included in the entrance fee. Flip Flops, to finish the shoe information, would really be a very bad idea. Even the guide wore the same type of plastic profiled shoes he gave us. Second: You can hike on your own until an info point / ticket office at the entrance to the valley. There, you'll meet the guides (no cave visit without guide), can decide which cave you want to see, leave your backpack, and have the option to have the guys take you to the cave entrance by motorbike (50 baht p.p.). There's "Diamond Cave" and "Coral Cave" (according to the guys, easier and shorter but very pretty), and there's "Mae Lana Cave". We chose Mae Lana Cave, and the 3-4h walk to the underground waterfall and back. There's also a shorter (1-2h) and a much longer (more than 8h if I remember correctly) option. After paying, you can get a headlamp and shoes, and the guides will then pack you on the back of their motorbikes and drive you the last 3km or so to the entrance of Mae Lana Cave. To the other caves, the way is shorter. This ride, up and down a steep jungle road, was probably the most "dangerous" part of our caving afternoon. Third: Something about physical and mental fitness. My partner and myself are in our early thirties, love climbing and other kinds of outdoor activity and therefore (mostly) had a great time down in the cave. If you like exploring the cave, too, you should be willing and able to climb a bit, sometimes over slippery stone, using your hands and maybe the guides' help. Good balance definitely helps because in several spots, you have to cross a bit deeper or wetter parts via a trunk, or with the help of a thick bamboo stick. Claustrophobic people obviously are in the wrong place in a long, dark cave, and the fact that at some spots, you have to crouch through an around 70cm high part (not long, though, just some meters are so low) sure doesn't make it better. Fourth: Yes, you DO get really, really wet and really, really dirty. I'd say we spent 1/3 of the time in the river, sometimes butt-deep, 1/3 walking over gravel of the dry parts of the river (including getting the small stones out of the shoes), and 1/3 balancing, bouldering, crouching. I'm not convinced I'll get my jeans hotpants back to blue when returning home.. This also means that if you want to bring your camera or other valuables inside the cave, you better bring a waterproof dry-sack. Fifth: People with an intolerance for "nasty little critters" should think twice whether they want to visit the cave. We were surprised seeing cockroaches down there (at some point I stopped counting them), there were some (really cute) spiders with sparkling eyes, tons of little flies (I ate one accidentally, staring at the scenery with my mouth open :D), bats, and, to our astonishment, even a small shrimp in the river, fighting against the current! There are said to be some blind cave fish in the river, but unfortunately, we didn't see one. Animal lovers - welcome! And Sixth: Please don't expect one of these "prettily lit caves" - as you may have noticed now (in case you made it through all my description until here - good job ;) ) - this is not a touristy place, but for people with a sense for adventure far off the beaten track. Hooray, now comes the pretty part! The cave was a truly new experience for us both. We stretched our comfort zone limits quite a bit, but were rewarded by the astonishing feeling of being almost alone down there, feeling so small in the darkness. With the headlamps, you can only grasp a small bit of the huge dimensions of some parts of the cave. There are some wonderfully sparkling stalagmites and stalactites in various colours awaiting you. At some point, you're used to being dirty and wet, and the water parts become fun. If you like climbing a bit, the rock sections are also quite enjoyable (and the seemingly old shoes have a really good grip!) The waterfall is pretty, surrounded by yellowish calcite formations that reminded me a bit of Pamukkale in Turkey (but much smaller). The guide speaks very little English, but will show you especially beautiful rocks and help, when needed. He knows the cave by heart and leads you through the shallower river parts. You'll feel much better accompanied by him, trust me! After 3,5h, we were back in daylight, soaked, dirty, but happy to have lived this experience - and also a bit proud :) I add some photos as first impression - and can only recommend discovering the cave yourself!

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ManuElaKa
Cologne, Germany99 contributions
Feb 2018 • Couples
Before actually describing the beautiful Mae Lana Cave, I'd like to
provide some information which I consider especially important, and
which I would have been very happy to have before going. There are
surprisingly few reviews so far to be found on the internet, so here we go:

First and, at least for me, maybe most important: The guides DO provide
you with water resistant shoes that have a profile with some grip.

I was so worried about ruining my leather hiking boots, and didn't feel
comfortable wearing only Flip Flops in a slippery cave with a river
inside, that I bought a pair of 5€ plastic sneakers on the market in Mae
Hong Son, which had a bit of a profile and which I could ruin without
worries. But you can get shoes at the entrance to the cave area,
included in the entrance fee. Flip Flops, to finish the shoe
information, would really be a very bad idea. Even the guide wore the
same type of plastic profiled shoes he gave us.

Second: You can hike on your own until an info point / ticket office at
the entrance to the valley. There, you'll meet the guides (no cave visit
without guide), can decide which cave you want to see, leave your
backpack, and have the option to have the guys take you to the cave
entrance by motorbike (50 baht p.p.). There's "Diamond Cave" and "Coral
Cave" (according to the guys, easier and shorter but very pretty), and
there's "Mae Lana Cave". We chose Mae Lana Cave, and the 3-4h walk to
the underground waterfall and back. There's also a shorter (1-2h) and a
much longer (more than 8h if I remember correctly) option. After paying,
you can get a headlamp and shoes, and the guides will then pack you on
the back of their motorbikes and drive you the last 3km or so to the
entrance of Mae Lana Cave. To the other caves, the way is shorter. This
ride, up and down a steep jungle road, was probably the most "dangerous"
part of our caving afternoon.

Third: Something about physical and mental fitness. My partner and
myself are in our early thirties, love climbing and other kinds of
outdoor activity and therefore (mostly) had a great time down in the
cave. If you like exploring the cave, too, you should be willing and
able to climb a bit, sometimes over slippery stone, using your hands and
maybe the guides' help. Good balance definitely helps because in several
spots, you have to cross a bit deeper or wetter parts via a trunk, or
with the help of a thick bamboo stick. Claustrophobic people obviously
are in the wrong place in a long, dark cave, and the fact that at some
spots, you have to crouch through an around 70cm high part (not long,
though, just some meters are so low) sure doesn't make it better.

Fourth: Yes, you DO get really, really wet and really, really dirty. I'd
say we spent 1/3 of the time in the river, sometimes butt-deep, 1/3
walking over gravel of the dry parts of the river (including getting the
small stones out of the shoes), and 1/3 balancing, bouldering,
crouching. I'm not convinced I'll get my jeans hotpants back to blue
when returning home.. This also means that if you want to bring your
camera or other valuables inside the cave, you better bring a waterproof
dry-sack.

Fifth: People with an intolerance for "nasty little critters" should
think twice whether they want to visit the cave. We were surprised
seeing cockroaches down there (at some point I stopped counting them),
there were some (really cute) spiders with sparkling eyes, tons of
little flies (I ate one accidentally, staring at the scenery with my
mouth open :D), bats, and, to our astonishment, even a small shrimp in
the river, fighting against the current! There are said to be some blind
cave fish in the river, but unfortunately, we didn't see one. Animal
lovers - welcome!

And Sixth: Please don't expect one of these "prettily lit caves" - as
you may have noticed now (in case you made it through all my description
until here - good job ;) ) - this is not a touristy place, but for
people with a sense for adventure far off the beaten track.

Hooray, now comes the pretty part! The cave was a truly new experience
for us both. We stretched our comfort zone limits quite a bit, but were
rewarded by the astonishing feeling of being almost alone down there,
feeling so small in the darkness. With the headlamps, you can only grasp
a small bit of the huge dimensions of some parts of the cave. There are some
wonderfully sparkling stalagmites and stalactites in various colours
awaiting you. At some point, you're used to being dirty and wet, and the
water parts become fun. If you like climbing a bit, the rock sections
are also quite enjoyable (and the seemingly old shoes have a really good
grip!) The waterfall is pretty, surrounded by yellowish calcite
formations that reminded me a bit of Pamukkale in Turkey (but much
smaller). The guide speaks very little English, but will show you
especially beautiful rocks and help, when needed. He knows the cave by
heart and leads you through the shallower river parts.
You'll feel much better accompanied by him, trust me!
After 3,5h, we were back in daylight, soaked, dirty, but happy to have
lived this experience - and also a bit proud :)

I add some photos as first impression - and can only recommend
discovering the cave yourself!
Written February 20, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Flore N
Dieppe, France232 contributions
Mar 2018
Be ready to take a long drive, up and down small roads, so have a good scooter, at least 150cc!

When you arrive at the little booth at the top of the hill, you can choose between 3 caves. We took the closest, the Coral cave, because we did not have so much time.
The guide took my daughter on his bike and I followed with mine, on a really steep road down with 2 shard hair pin bends. 1km, and then you park by another little booth and walk another 100m to a small entrance.
This is not Lod cave, it is a small entrance, no river and super dark!
We had a head lamp each and walked down wooden stairs, the ramp a little eaten by termites.
The cave was quite big inside, like a cathedral.
Some beautiful formations.
We even saw 2 huge spiders (to my daughter's glee and my horror...).
It has 3 parts and you really go to the end with the guide.
I noticed he had a big knife with him and wondered why until he pointed out a paw print in the sand, which looked really fresh and said a tiger comes in the cave to sleep at night...

Overall a great experience.
Written March 30, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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