Tham Mae Usu is a little-known cave along Highway 105 in Tak Province, Thailand. On my motorcycle trip throughout Northern Thailand, I had an opportunity to stop at this beautiful cave. Hopefully this information helps more people discover these hidden gems in Thailand.
The cave is situated about 2 km off the main road on a smaller road that runs through a village before reaching a clearing and parking area for the cave. Depending on the time of day, there is a small desk located outside the cave staffed with local boys from the nearby village. During rainy season, the cave is likely closed due to flooding. At the desk, they offer a mandatory guide service where they can take you on about a 2 km hike into the cave, out the back entrance, and around the forest area nearby. The service is free technically, but a 100 bhat tip for each guide is expected at the end. Do not expect any English though.
As we entered the mouth of the cave we began to hear bats above. We walked along the river and then crossed it and continued further into the cave to see stalactite formations. The cave is best viewed at sunrise as the entrance faces east so the morning beams penetrate it with beautiful rays of light. I got there a little later in the morning, but I wish I had gone earlier.
By the time we reached the darkest part of the cave, we could begin to see the light at the other end where it exits into the jungle. We had to do a little climbing and more walking before we got out into the forest. The boys explained to me that sometimes elephants come out into this forest area to work. There are no wild elephants in the area, but the local village has a work elephant that sometimes preforms tasks in the area.
We continued the additional kilometer back to the cave entrance by walking around the outside before finishing the tour. I thanked the boys, handed them a tip, and got on my way.
Tham Mae Usu is a short visit, but a cool place worth checking out if in the area. My best recommendation is to get there early for the epic morning photos.
As for accommodation nearby, I stayed at Tha Song Yang Hill Resort which was about 15 minutes from the cave. The budget rooms were not that nice; however, next door I saw an advertisement for a local home stay. It looked interesting, but I didn’t get a chance to check it out. I probably would have stayed there instead. Additionally the town of Mae Tan nearby didn’t seem to have any hotels, but there were several Thai restaurants for dinner. I also saw coin-operated laundry machines in town. It would have been better to use those than my hotel sink that night!