Kong Lor Cave. Harry Bloom / Creative Commons
When you want to go a bit off the tourist path in Laos, head south of its Vientiane Capital and to the province of Khammouane, a land of countless caves shrouded in rugged limestone mountains. One of the most popular is Kong Lor Cave. Considered the longest and most impressive cave in Laos, it is incredible to see—stretching 7.5 kilometres long with a river running through it and reaching up to an unbelievable cavernous height of 80 metres in some parts.
Expect to ride a long-tail to go upriver the subterranean cave (usually a maximum of three passengers per boat, excluding the two boatmen) and have stalactites greet you at its mouth. As darkness surrounds you with only your boatmen’s headlamps to cast the light, it’s a thrill when the boat stops at an enormous chamber where stalagmites, stalactites, columns, and other cave formations are lit for visitors to see.
While seeing Kong Lor Cave can be done as a long day trip, a two- or three-day adventure is recommended to see other nearby attractions and experience more of the rural Laotian life: bike through the Ban Nahin village and up to nearby beautiful mountain viewpoint for sunset, have a picnic at Nam Sanam waterfall, have a Lao-style dinner, or see other caves. It’s best to go during dry season, from October to May, as caving pose more of a challenge during the monsoon season.
Shadows on Kong Lor Cave. Erwan Deverre /Creative Commons.
Artificial light in Kong Lor Cave. Sam Steiner / Creative Commons.
Deep inside Kong Lor Cave. Sam Steiner / Creative Commons.
Similar Southeast Asia Experiences
Looking for similar nature-based adventures? Visit the Philippines' El Nido archipelago, take a cruise on Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, or swing by eastern Malaysia to Sarawak and Sabah, to venture into Gomantong Caves and Gunung Mulu Park.