The main road out of town takes you all the way to the cave. It was impossible for us to find any straightforward directions online, but really it was very easy. We were lucky enough to have a tour agency owner take us there on his way out of town, but it would be very easy to do on a scooter or even hitching as locals know where it is. The only thing you need to remember is that where the main road out of town diverges (there is a gazebo on the right side), go to the left (downhill) side. After about 10 more minutes, you’ll see a big park sign with a diverging dirt road on the right side of the road. This is not the cave, but the cave is coming up! After another minute or two, you’ll see a similar park sign and dirt road on the left, that’s it! Walk down that road a couple of minutes and you’ll be in the park! From there, the cave entrance is a short walk away.
Ta kho bi cave was spectacular. Having had little caving experience besides the extremely touristy Mammoth Caves, I was impressed. The first thing we saw at the cave entrance honestly scared the shit out of me. There were hundreds of bats hanging on the top of the cave, and our headlamps (bring yours!) were waking them up. I was not looking to have almost a thousand bats fly at me to get out the cave, so I was about ready to just turn around. Luckily, Allie is a smart animal person, and the ludicrous ideas that I have about bats thanks to the batman movies was laughed at and dismissed. We walked right past their slumber party and deeper into the cave.
I’d love to be able to tell you all about the amazing variety of rock formations we saw, but unfortunately my limited cave vocabulary begins and ends with stalagmites (sorry Earth Sciences 101, but thanks for nap time). But I can assure you that we saw a lot of cool shit.
We went pretty slowly through the cave to take it all in, so I can neither confirm nor deny the park signs saying that time to the end and back is about an hour, but it’s probably pretty accurate. From start to finish, the cave is about 3 km, pretty damn big! There’s really no climbing or scrambling necessary, as long as you weigh less than 400 pounds and can handle a couple of hours of easy walking, you got it. It’s well worth it! Taking pictures inside was pretty tough, but here are a few of the better ones!
Getting back to town was a bit trickier. This would not be a problem if you rented a scooter (the only scooter rental place we saw in town was a big scooter showroom just a block away from 7/11), but for us, we had to hitch back. As soon as we started walking towards town, trucks and songthaews (trucks with the beds turned into bench seats for transportation) started passing us. In 15 minutes of walking, we had at least five different trucks or songthaews, all on their way back to Umphang, pass us without even considering picking us up. Our outward thumbs quickly evolved to frantic arm waving, and finally after about 20 minutes, we hopped in the truck bed of a very kind woman who took us the 15 minutes back to town.