Mike and I rented a motorbike again yesterday to explore some more of the island. We’ve been wanting to check out Tham Mai Kaew cave inland, so we drove about 15 min south to get there along a dirt road. It was 300 baht each to get into the cave plus a guide, which is pretty pricey for a tourist attraction. Well, we were there, so why not?
We had two other German guys join us on the tour and began the 30 minute hike to get to the cave entrance. The path was through the jungle and we passed a large rubber tree plantation along the way. There were several parts of the hike that we had to use ropes to climb up some slippery, steep rocks. Not great in flip flops! It was a pretty intense hike so I was thinking, well if the cave sucks, at least this hike is pretty awesome.
Hike to Mai Kaew Cave
We get to the cave and our guide points to the entrance.
Cave Entrance - a Hole with a Bamboo Ladder Peeking Out
What, that?? We have to crawl down this tiny hole? Ha! So down we went into the hole and clambered down a bamboo ladder. There are no lights hung up in this cave, as they’ve kept everything very natural, with only bamboo ladders and planks to get through some parts.
Mike Edging Along a Bamboo Plank
We had head lamps, but it was still incredibly dark! We went through the cave passageways, some were great caverns with stalagmites and stalactites dripping and some were small spaces we had to crawl through.
We went deep down into the cave and came across a lagoon that you can only swim in during the wet season. So we climbed down another bamboo ladder and went for a dip in the cold water. A couple of times our guide turned out all the lights, and that was super creepy!! Pretty insane. Down that deep in the cave, there’s not that much oxygen, so by the time we climbed out of the pool, all of us were out of breath. That’s when I started feeling a little light-headed and couldn’t wait to get up higher to get more oxygen.
Cool Dip in the Cave Pool
On the way back, we went out through a separate entrance—our guide called it “the hard way.” We had to crawl through a tiny hole to get out. Mike had to army crawl on his stomach in order to fit, and I managed to make it through on my hands and knees.
Mike Had to Crawl on his Belly
Right before we got out of the cave, we came across a couple hundred bats sleeping in a passageway. A couple of them were even flying around to add to the creep factor. Needless to say, we were incredibly muddy after we got out. Clothes totally demolished! That, and while I was crawling through the tiny hole, my flip flop broke. Saddest thing ever. So for the hike back, Mike was sweet enough to give me one of his flip flops and he had one bare foot!
Wow, so what an experience, but totally worth it. I doubt we’ll ever be in another cave that well preserved with such crazy passageways. Mike’s left knee is swollen from being scraped in the tiny hole and I have another 10 mosquito bites from the hike back in the jungle (which brings the total count to over 30!).