Discovering Erawan Falls & Phra That Cave by Motorbike
Yay, a cave! Who doesn't love a dark, wet and slippery place? Haaa...
This was definitely one of the most physically challenging days we had in Thailand. First we drove off on a rented motorbike which I was not looking forward to since I had never been on one, and even though I trust Joris's driving skills, he hadn't ridden one since years ago... so what could go wrong, right? Luckily nothing, but the ride was pretty long and uncomfortable for me on the back seat. We rode our trusty motorbike for almost 2 hours from Kanchanaburi to Erawan National Park.
Don't want to read it all? Jump straight to: How to visit Erawan Falls & Phra That Cave
Our first stop was the Erawan waterfalls with the famous seven stages where, normally, you can swim. Unfortunately, the night before it rained way too much and nobody was allowed to go in the pools. To keep it short: swimming was prohibited and in stead of beautiful blue water, we got poopy brown water. We were just unlucky that day! Bleh.
After looking around and taking some pictures, we decided to head out for Phra That Cave; a tip from the owner of our guesthouse who told us that the caves around Kanchanaburi are pretty impressive. On the motorbike, boohoo. Once again having to endure the literal pain in my ass (pun intended).
Up the stairs we go
Pra That Cave is situated only 8 kilometers far from the Erawan waterfalls so only a short ride and the entry ticket for the waterfalls is also valid for Phra That Cave! It's a big cave; around 200 metres wide and there are a lot of awesome stalactites and stalagmites, some even translucent. Before getting inside the cave, visitors need to ask for a guide to navigate you throughout the cave. You need to be there before 3 p.m!
When we finally arrived at the entrance we realized that if we wanted to see the cave, we would have to walk a mile up the mountain, on a series of uneven, slippery stairs, through the humid and mosquito infested jungle. What can I say, we rode all the way here so we weren't gonna quit now.
Man up, take a deep breath and power through! Huwa! And up we went! It took us some sweat and tears but we made it to the top.
On the plus side: the higher we went, the less mosquitos there were. And man, it was a long way but we made it and we were more than ready to go in.
At the entrance, the guide was waiting to take people into the cave. With our headlights on, we and a small group of people followed him into a small, slippery opening and then, there it was; tall, beautiful and spacious with lots of pretty and interesting formations. It always feels like a different world inside caves. We were able to comfortably navigate by walking on a man made wooden path along and across the cave. The atmosphere combined with the gas lamp our guide was holding, was kind of magical.
Needless to say we enjoyed ourselves and the whole mile up the mountain was worth it. Going down the wretched stairs we encouraged a few fellow travelers on their way up, ensuring them that their sweat and effort would not be in vain. These caves are definitely one of the more beautiful and impressive sights in and around Kanchanaburi.
How to visit Erawan Falls & Phra That Cave in Kanchanaburi
1. Day tour
Every guesthouse and hotel offers day trips from Kanchanaburi to the Erawan waterfalls but not all include Phra That Cave so make sure you ask for it specifically. If you do take a day tour be aware you just have to go with the flow and you'll arrive with hordes of tourists because all tours leave around the same time. By experience we know it's a lot nicer to leave as early as possible. Less tourists and also a little bit cooler.
2. By scooter or motorcycle
This is our favorite way to explore anywhere we go and especially Thailand. We can arrive early before all the day tours and we can leave again whenever we want. It gives us freedom to stop anywhere and the adventure level goes up a tiny notch too.
Visiting Erawan Falls and Phra That cave by scooter or motorbike (or even a car) is super easy. Once you leave Kanchanaburi it's basically one straight road to Erawan National Park and there are enough signs to point you in the right direction when you get closer to the park.
Take at least an hour and half to get there and ask your guesthouse or hotel for the best and most reputable business in Kanchanaburi to rent a motorcycle or scooter if they don't rent out themselves. We were lucky enough to be able to rent one from our guesthouse. We highly recommend P.Y. Guesthouse by the way. The owner will do anything to make sure you have nice time.
Don't be too adventurous though (they drive on the left hand side of the road). If you're not comfortable riding motorcycle then don't. We met a lot of tourists in Thailand with ankles and knees in bandages and you don't want a short ride to mess up your time at the beach because you might not be allowed to swim.