Activity centre with great budget accommodation
Established in 1984 by an Australian-Shan couple, Cave Lodge has a wide variety of accommodation options, from dormitory beds through to small bungalows with shared bathrooms plus larger ones with private bathroom and hot shower.
The price differences reflect increases in size and quality, but the standard is generally pretty high, although it's best to check rooms first as some can be a touch rundown. A large and atmospheric common area has a fireplace in the middle for cold nights and plenty of great viewpoints to sit with a coffee or beer. The walls are lined with maps, photos and reams of terrific information about local history, places, people, flora and fauna, as well as activities to do in the region, in particular caving -- the owner is a renowned expert in this area and has spent 30 years exploring, mapping and discovering the region’s limestone caves.
Busy staff (though when the boss is away the service can be decidedly slack) serve food from the extensive and varied menu of Thai and Western dishes -- the excellent home baked bread is definitely worth a mention, as is the traditional Shan food. Cave Lodge proposes a range of activities beyond caving, including kayaking, mountain biking and trekking though they also advocate independent exploration, and provide a very busy map to all the sites of interest in the area. There is of course the proviso that you don't go out alone, and always let them know your intended route and time of return.
This is a great spot but one that can also get very busy during high season.
By Mark Ord
Last updated on 24th July, 2015.