Tham Malai Cave works well with Khao Ok Thalu as part of a day of exploring the limestone crags to the northeast of town.
Accessed by stairs and lit up by dim lamps at all hours, it’s an easily accessible cave that will take you deep inside the menacing rock. Steer clear if bats freak you out.
The cave is deeper than it is wide, with stairs and walkways winding down amid the dark and drippy walls and floors. Lamps cast an eerie orange glow over the cavern, providing enough light to see where you’re going but not enough to really comprehend the slippery coating of mud that you have to step through towards the bottom. A few stalactites and stalagmites might draw your gaze, but take it slowly and use the handrails: you wouldn’t want to fall in the stinky muck.
The place is creepy. We got the feeling that a wall in the lowest corner might roll back to reveal Batman’s Batcave or Dr Evil’s underground lair. When we arrived just before sunset, dozens of bats were beginning to twirl around, some fluttering wildly within a metre of our heads. Many others kept snoozing upside down from the roof, appearing like a hundred black dots on a fire-orange canvass.
The cave is accessed by a series of concrete walkways beginning behind a large chedi set up on a hill; climb up to the platform to see some interesting Chinese-style statues in the adjoining cloisters. Once on the walkway, take the first right to reach Tham Malai, or keep straight to the smaller Tham Khu-rum.
The cave can be conveniently visited after Khao Ok Thalu. Afterwards, you could continue north for 500 metres and take a right to check out more cliff-top chedis at Wat Khao Daeng.
How to get there
Tham Malai is 2.5 km north of the train station, accessed by Apaiborirak Soi 1, which runs parallel to the train tracks on the eastern side. A wooden sign that says “Tham Malai” in Roman script marks the entrance to the car park.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 1st February, 2016.