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Reviewed 30 July 2012

Perfect spot for caving enthusiasts and for outdoor recreation (kayaking, hiking). Remote location about 8km off the 1095 highway (but easy to find, and good road). Very close to Tham Lod and several other caves. Very friendly service by knowledgeable staff who are glad to give advice and arrange for guides. Accommodation is basic, but functional. Cave Lodge offers a good menu and great food, particularly considering its remote location, and was able to accommodate special dietary concerns. Great place to hang out with family and to enjoy this beautiful remote part of Thailand.

  • Stayed: July 2012, travelled with family
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Thank Bart S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 July 2012

A very belated review due to family illness after we got back and then forgot about it until now! Cave Lodge: We planned on staying one night but stayed two (October 2010). We had a detached double room cabin with ensuite (hot water was ok), fan, and insect screens, set high on the hill with a great view of the river. Glad we had a cabin, didn't like the look of the dorms! Saw water buffalo having a mud bath, and also walked quite a bit around the area (up and down the river, to the local caves, and to the nearby very small village and surrounds). Lots of noise in the night that sounded like gunshots, but we were assured it was (mostly!) firecrackers, and we did see some gorgeous kids setting off some firecrackers during the day! I went on the bamboo rafting/cave trip (paid minimal price at info centre near caves to do this). Trip was a bit short and the rafting part very short, but an interesting experience. Also met some interesting people of all nationalities in the common area of Cave Lodge. Several had done the all day trek organised through the Lodge and seemed to have had a gruelling but worthwhile experience. Food and drinks were reasonably priced, although we found the food a bit average. I was glad I hadn't signed up for the cooking course, as it seemed no better or different to what I would cook at home. The owner, John, was quite friendly to us and an interesting character. Prior to arriving he answered our emails promptly and the booking process was smooth. Some of the other cabins looked in need of repair (and we were told they were working on this). Our cabin was good in terms of it being private, had a great view of the river and a good ensuite. The bed was weird though! It was built up on an overly high platform that took up the width of the room (including a small area running along each side of the mattress that you could put water bottles, phone etc on). It was quite difficult getting in and out of bed easily ... not great if you had to get up in the middle of the night!! All in all though, a good budget stay in an interesting area. We had our own transport (motorcycle), without this it would have been a lot more time-consuming and difficult to get to, although I believe a bus travels to the area. The Cave Lodge website is good and gives full details of how to get there and of all the activities on offer. We'd go back!

Room Tip: Ask for a cabin with a river view!
  • Stayed: August 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank LorrainePAustralia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 July 2012

We are long term travelers with basic needs - general level of cleanliness and enough space for our (minimal) stuff. This place met our needs. For a simple bungalow, it was quite clean, but our space was a bit tight (thought sufficient for us). We paid 500B for a double with a view of the river and private bathroom.

The location is obviously isolated. You will mostly be eating at the hotel, and by northern Thailand standards, it is a bit expensive. The food is good - just make your choices wisely. Realistically, they could gouge you a lot worse considering the isolation. We were out walking around one day, and ate a meal at a random roadside restaurant. The food was back to cheap and delicious, and the lady gave us extra treats for free...but it was 20min walk away.

There is a great, huge lounge area. The owners are fantastic. The man is from Australia, but has been living in Thailand for 20 or 30 years. He is a riot! He is full of info on the area, but he won't push it on you...just ask if you want to know. In fact, he discovered almost everything in the area.

There is loads to do in the area; I won't list it all here. Do be aware, that activities vary by season. The river was too low for kayaking when we went, but the good thing is the owners just tell you this...they don't try to sell you on things that aren't very good due to seasonal variations. The power went out 1hr after we arrived and was out for 2 days. It may not happen all the time, but the owners weren't phased. They've only had power for the last 8 years anyway. Be flexible...you are on the edge of Thailand.

Room Tip: Just show up...even if it is full, they find a space for you (per their website).
  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank LifeDocumented
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 May 2012

We stayed at the Cave Lodge for 2 nights and had a great time. Despite the fact that we got a little lost trying to find it (not much signage on the road) and the initial reception we got was a little on the cool side, we had a great stay. We had a comfortable bungalow that stayed cool in the evening despite the high tepms of late April. The food was good, and the Shan Special vegie dish was fantastic.

On our first afternoon we went over and got the guided tour of Thom Lad cave. Well worth the price for two people, which I think was about 500TB. We spent over an hour in the cave with our guide and we got to see a whole buch of stuff as well as take a bamboo raft ride down and back up the stream that flows through the cave. Being and avid wild caver, I was rather impressed with the tour. There was not a whole lot of BS artificial lighting and goofy tour comments - mostly since our guide only spoke Thai. But that was fine by me, and the fact that the tour is led by gas lantern light is actually pretty cool. Even though it is highly visited, it gives it a much more authentic cave feel as well as providing interesting lighting for photography. We missed out on the nightly bird show at the exit of the cave, but we heard lots of good things about it. Highly recommend paying the few extra Baht and doing it with a guide rather then going it on your own.

On our second day, we went on the "Wild" tour (I don't remember what number it was on their board) and had a great day stomping around the hills of the surrounding countryside. We visited 3 caves - Horseshoe, waterfall and christmas cave. All three were pretty good, if not a little short. Christmas cave was by far the best though, with some massive formations and little damage done by previous visitors.

On our last day in the area, we decided to get a little adventurous and head out on our own. Armed with a map, some vague directions from Steve, and the phrase "Pi man, u ti nai krap" which is roughly "Spirit cave, where is it please" we set out with another guest to the village of Ban Rai about 7km west of town. We made it to Ban Rai and continued following the dry riverbed until we came to the last hut that had anyone home. After a brief exchange, we figured out we were in the right general area. After s bit of stumbling around in the woods on our own, we went back to beg for help and try to get a guide. The helpful local immediatly led us across the river to where his friend Sang was cutting bamboo. Sang then took us on a grueling 45 min uphill hike through the jungle where we finally reached the cave. IMPRESSIVE! Pi Man (Spirit Cave) also know as the Ban Rai Rock Shelter Cave is an amazing limestone overhang that at some point was mostly underground. Over millions of years most of the exterior has eroded and fallen away leaving a massive overhang with some remaining speleologic formations left. The most interesting part though is the ancient teak coffins and burial stands that are left behind. There is actually very good signage in both Thai and english describing the history of the site. Well worth the effort and the 100 or so Baht that we paid our guide for. After cooling off and seeing everything there, we headed back down the trail. Be forewarned - this hike is very strenuous! It is all uphill-very steep- and it is barely marked or even discernable as a trail. If you get hurt, your chances of getting any kind of help out are about zero. Think safety and self rescue, 'cause your on your own and working without a net. On the bumpy ride back out, we got a flat on our scooter. This was a bit of a problem since we were several km outside of Ban Rai, and then several more away from Pang Mapha. We asked for help in Ban Rai and even though no one spoke any english, they tried very hard to help.Unfortunatly the had no way to fix the tire so we had to limp it back down the road and into the nearest repair shop. Luckily this is Thailand and there are reapir shops on practically every corner, so we were back in business in about 20 minutes and only out about 200 Baht. Quite an adventure and a great way to spend our day.

Overall I would recommend Cave Lodge, and if I get the chance, I will be back with all my caving gear and at least a week to spend stompin' around the Karst of Northern Thailand.

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank wabowfisher
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 April 2012

Great value, location and ethos at this friendly run place. Love the approach to celebrating the local Shan people and the authenticity in catering, materials used and excursions offered. If you want the real perspective of northern Thailand and avoid the tourist masses- go to Cave Lodge.

  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with family
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Thank RogerS869
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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