Tham Erawan is a beautiful cave hidden away in a mountain in Loei Province right near the border with Nong Bua Lam Phu Province. The cave is a truly off-the-beaten-path Thailand destination that many foreigners never visit. In fact, most Thais will be unaware of this cave. I came here on three week motorcycle trip throughout Northern Thailand.
At the base of the mountain there is a large temple complex housing the monks that look after the cave. The walk to the cave entrance is a 20-30 minute hike up several series of steps. While the hike is quite exhausting, the path is of high quality and easy to navigate.
At the entrance there is a beautiful Buddha statue looking out on the rice paddies below. Continuing further into the cave, there are paths illuminated by small lights put there by the monks. About half way into the cave, there is a small hole connecting the roof with the outside world. During mid-morning to early afternoon, it is possible to see a beautiful sunbeam flowing into the cave through this hole. Unfortunately I arrived there too late in the day to see it. I could only see the beam casting some sun high up on the cave wall.
Continuing further into the cave, there are several Buddhist shrines. Some of the shrines have statues while others are based around some sort of holy rock. Finally at the back of the cave, there is another steep metal staircase leading to a view platform on the opposite side. The only way to get to this platform is through the cave. The cave is actually quite tall and spacious inside so there is no need to worry about claustrophobia.
When I visited Tham Erawan, as usual, I was the only foreign visitor. I met an interesting Thai family that was walking down from the cave with me as I left. They had come from a neighboring province to check it out, but were quite surprised to hear I knew about it. A cave like this usually isn’t well-known enough to attract any Bangkokonians, let alone foreigners. Most of the visitors tend to be from the surrounding area.
When I got back down, there were some ladies selling cold water at the bottom. This was a necessary stop. As I sipped my water, I watched several of the monks preform their daily chores of sweeping leaves before I hopped back on my motorbike on my way to Chiang Khan.