LAOS 2024: KHAMMOUANE UPDATE – PART 2

What’s happening at Kong Lor Cave: This cave site is probably the premier attraction of the THAKHEK LOOP TOUR. At 7.5 km end to end, it’s one of the largest river tunnels in Southeast Asia. Tours through the cave are done in a motorized boat which takes you all the way through the cave to the remote encampment beyond the upstream entrance. KONG LOR VILLAGE, which is located approximately 1 km from the downstream entrance of the cave, has around a dozen home-stays and guesthouses, and numerous restaurants, for those planning an overnight stay. Note: if you’re doing the Thakhek Loop Tour, Kong Lor Cave is a 42 km detour off Hwy # 8 (the turn off is at Na Hin Village).

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The Kong Lor Cave downstream entrance and lagoon.

Doing the Cave Tour: Just before you enter the downstream entrance area (indicated by a large overhead sign) there’s a ticket office on the right. You’ll need to purchase your tickets for the boat tour here. As of February 2024, the price is 200k Laotian Kip per person (approx. US 9.00). If you’re not going to do the cave tour, and just want to have a look at the downstream entrance lagoon, it’s free entry.

The ticket office for a boat tour through Kong Lor Cave.

The Downstream Entrance Area: From the ticket office it’s approximately a 500 meter walk down to the lagoon area. Once you arrive there you’ll see a cluster of wooden buildings, including restroom facilities and an admin office. You’ll need to show your ticket to the staff in the admin hut after which you’ll be assigned a driver, and a boat. Note: The maximum number of people per boat is three. The boat driver will provide your life jacket, which must be worn while riding in the boat. Once this is completed, you’ll walk down to and around the far side of the lagoon to enter the cave. Note: Just before the cave entrance, there’s a platform over the water for viewing the swarms of fish in the lagoon.

The fish viewing platform in front of the downstream entrance.

The Boat Departure Area: This is approx. 200 meters inside the downstream entrance. There’s a cement pathway along the right-hand side of the cave which takes you to a small beach where the boats are parked. Once the boat driver has readied the boat, and you’ve donned your life jackets, you’ll be on your way. Note: This is a large volume cave, and you’ll need lights to see cave internal area as you’re riding in the boat. If you don’t have your own headlamp, you can hire one from the admin ticket hut before entering the cave.

The departure area for the boat tour through Kong Lor Cave.

The Run Through the Cave: The run to the upstream entrance will take approximately 1.5 hours, and includes stops at two different formations viewing areas. The first area is on the right and only 600 meters from the departure point. This first viewing area is a new addition to the cave tour (opened just recently) and is safe to access. There’s a boat landing where sightseers can disembark and a series of metal stairs and walkways which take you up into an elevated area of the cave. The walkway is approx. 200 meters in length and there’s a viewing platform at the end, giving you an up close look at the massive stalactites and stalagmites. Note: Both formations viewing areas are illuminated for a safe and enjoyable sightseeing experience.

The new formations viewing area at Kong Lor Cave.

The second formation viewing area is only a short distance (300 meters) beyond the first, and on the left side of the cave. This is the original formations area which was developed when the cave first opened to tourism, some fifteen years previously. This area is also set up with a solid pathway to follow, and illumination to highlight the formations. This second is also on an elevated plateau and runs for approx. 300 meters before a stairway takes you back down to the river to rejoin the boat. From here it’s approx. forty minutes to the upstream entrance. Note: approximately 400 meters before the upstream, there’s a rock barrier where passengers will need to alight so the drivers can haul there boats up and over the obstruction.

The second formations viewing area inside Kong Lor Cave.

The Upstream Encampment: This is a small relaxation area, on the upstream side, run by locals from Natane Village. After being cramped up in the boat for nearly an hour, you can stretch your legs here and use the basic restrooms. There’s also a restaurant/café area where you can sit down undercover and enjoy a cold drink, try some local snacks, or have a Lao coffee. Most sightseers take about 15 – 20 minutes at the upstream encampment before boarding the boats for the return journey.

Traditional activities at the upstream encampment.

Kong Lor Cave Video

Safe travels,

Mega.

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