Q: Do you accept credit cards?
A: No we do not take credit cards you can pay in Thai Baht or in - US, Australian or Canadian dollars, UK pounds and Euros in either cash (notes only) or travelers cheques. There are several ATMs in Soppong 9 Kms from Cave Lodge.
Q: How do I get to Cave Lodge from Chaing Mai?
A:If you have a car or motorbike you drive via Pai (turn off the highway to Fang near Mae Malai then continue on Highway 1095). Cave Lodge is 50 kms from Pai on the way to Mae Hong Son. Just before Pang Mapha (also called Soppong), turn right (north) and drive 8kms on a sealed road to Tham Lod village and the Lodge, follow the signs. If you are relying on local transport, there are buses (cheaper, 6 hours) and minibuses (250 baht, 4 hours) leaving regularly (every hour for the minibuses) from Chaing Mai Arcade Bus Station (the main one in the city) that run to Mae Hong Son via Pai and Pang Mapha (Soppong) where you get off. The minibuses can be booked in advance at the bus station. Aya service near the train station also has regular minibuses to Pai and some guests then rent a motorbike in Pai. From the bus stop in Pang Mapha you can find a motorbike taxi (men in red jackets at the shelter across from Lemon Hill Guesthouse, 70 baht per person) to send you to Cave Lodge or ask in the minimart at the bus stop for a pickup truck (300 baht). If you are a group you can also rent a minibus from Chiang Mai (sometimes we can help arrange it) or a taxi from the airport (Minibuses and taxis are around 4000 baht one way) And you can find us on Google Maps. .
Q: What is the best time to visit Cave Lodge?
A: Northern Thailand has 3 seasons, the ‘cool dry’ from November to February, the ‘hot dry’ from March to mid May and the ‘warm wet’ from June to October. The peak season for tourists is the cool dry as days are pleasant and the weather is predictable, but the best time for caving is the hot dry when the rivers are lowest and the best time for kayaking is the warm wet. That said any time is good if it fits in with your travel plans. Most activities can run all year. The wet season is not as bad as most people imagine…it doesn’t rain all of the time (it is a bit unpredictable and depends on prevailing monsoons; sometimes it can rain for a week, it can be dry for days, rain every night with fine days etc….) In March and April on some years there can be a lot of smoke in the air all over this part of Nth Thailand, Laos and Myanmar due to field clearing and forest floor fires. In the cool season it can be as cold as 2 degrees centigrade in the early mornings but the days are sunny and warm. The quietest months for tourism are around May and September.
Q: Do I need to book or can I just turn up?
A: If you are not fussy/picky about the type of accommodation then we will find a place for you at any time…but, if you would like a bungalow, especially from November to March, it is advisable to email us or call us within Thailand on 053617203 Mob: 0884153845 when you can confirm your exact date of arrival at Cave Lodge.
Q: How often do tours to caves/villages/kayaking etc leave from Cave Lodge?
A: There are many activities you can do around the Lodge, some like visiting Tham Lod with a local Shan guide you can do any day, any time. When the river is higher (usually June until January) we can also run kayak trips through the cave every day for any number of people. These trips take 1-5 hours depending on the length of river travelled and if you visit caves along the way, and you do not need any previous experience (less confident people sit with a guide). You can check our website for all of the different trips. For example a one-day wilderness caving trip that visits 3 unique caves can run every day but costs vary depending on the numbers.. ie 600 baht each for 3 or more, while two people pay 900 each. It is often possible to join up with other guests to make trips happen. In fact, most of our day trips and overnight trekking tours are organized the day before departure or sometimes even in the morning, an hour before leaving.
Q: How fit do I need to be to do the activities at the Lodge?
A: It depends on which trip. Almost anyone can visit Tham Lod, the massive cave near the Lodge, though some might not make it to the higher levels (steep ladders). The evening bird show at the cave exit is an easy walk and we can take almost anyone on a shorter kayaking trip through the cave and down the Lang River. For longer trips such as the wilderness caving tour, you need to be reasonably fit but we find that attitude (are you willing to push yourself a bit?) is just as important as muscles.
Q: Is Cave Lodge suitable for families or older guests?
A: We cater for everyone. We have cheap dormitory rooms for people on a budget who are often younger travellers, as well as nicer bungalows with clean bathrooms and great views for couples and friends who prefer a little comfort at very affordable prices. We also have larger bungalows designed for families of 4-5 people and great group bungalows for up to 10 people. Over the years we have accommodated guests from a few months old to over 90 years old and they all said (including the babies!) that they had a very pleasant stay. We have also had countless school and university groups who have stayed for up to a week and explored the area or participated in community service work…and they have all had a great time. The thing that makes Cave Lodge unique is that we have no pretentions…we are not a boutique resort with rose petals in bath tubs…we are rustic, real, serve good food and run unique adventures at reasonable prices, are a mine of information and are very welcoming to people from every country, regardless of race/age/religion etc etc. Basically, everyone is welcome.
Q: Is malaria a problem in your area? Should I take prophylactic medicine?
A: Cases of malaria are rare, and are becoming rarer due to the pro-active work of Thai government agencies. The cases are usually confined to recent immigrants from Myanmar. John has lived here for over 3 decades and has never had it, either have the staff at Cave Lodge. The chances of you catching it are very small. Cases that are reported are usually during the wet season. The Thai authorities recommend prevention rather than taking pills..ie, sleep in a mosquito proof environment (our bungalows are mosquito proof if you keep the door shut), wear long sleeve clothing in the evenings (there are no malaria mosquitoes in the day time) or use repellant. If you do get sick it is very easy to do a simple blood test to confirm if you have malaria and it can be easily cured. Dengue fever, which is a lot more prevalent in city areas is a greater concern, but very few cases are reported in the hills around Cave Lodge.
Q: I am sh#t-scared of bugs, spiders, snakes, creepy crawlies? Any around?
A: Hhmmm…best you visit in the dry season. Or go to Iceland in the winter. Our bungalows are bug proof and no guests have died from anything that lives in the forest (or bungalow). What you really should be worrying about is the bus trip or that motorbike you might hire in Pai. We see a lot of motorbike exhaust tattoos, scars and scabs etc. Take a deep breath, relax, nature is wonderful..and if there are bugs around they make for excellent photographs.
Q: How many undiscovered caves are there around Cave Lodge?
A: We love questions like these, always good for a laugh. Another common one is: ‘Do you have any free rooms available?’ We do actually know what you are really asking, but it is sometimes hard to suppress a smile. There actually is a lot of potential for discovery, the underground wilderness is vast and some of our guests have found some significant caves and archaeological site. If you do however find a cave with extremely heavy old chests or crates with Japanese writing on the outside of them that seems to be about 50-60 years old, please tell us before you open them (could be gold bars/could be bombs!!!).