Khao Luang Caves


My rating: ★★★★

Khao Luang is a small hill on the northern edge of town. The hill is riddled with caves and crevasses carved by water over hundreds or thousands of years. As often happens, the caves became a place of hermitage, and then sacred. The largest of the caves then gained prominence when King Rama IV visited it in the nineteenth century.

Khao Luang
The main chamber of the caves beneath Khao Luang

A local legend purportedly has it that the entrance to the cave is a portal to another town, which is populated entirely by young maidens. You enter the cave via a stairway through on of its many openings. Descending further, you come to the largest chamber, where a large opening lets in plenty of light. The area just below the opening is lined with many small shrines and Buddha images installed here over the years. The larges seated Buddha, as well as the large reclining Buddha, were both built under the command of King Rama V.

There are three chambers in all. The second one has a large bell-shaped pagoda as well as many other Buddha images, and also has a partially collapsed roof. I couldn't reach the third chamber, since bats kept flying out of the low opening every time I approached.

There is a second, much less elaboarte, cave complex beneath the hill. It is reached via a second stairway at the other end of the parking lot from the main cave entrance. The stairs lead to a small cluster of sleeping cells used by monks, and from there a trail winds through the jungle to the caves, most of which are little more than cracks and crevasses in the rock. There is one large chamber with a completely collapsed roof that can only be reached by almost crawling through a small opening.

Admission to the caves is free, but the opening to the main cave is open from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. On Friday and Saturday it closes at 5:00 pm.