Tham Pla National Park

Tham Pla National Park

The fish cave

More on Mae Hong Son

Tham Pla (Fish Cave) is around 17 kilometres out of Mae Hong Son on the Soppong and Pai road and is the most famous feature of the vast Tham Pla, Namtok Pha Sua National Park which covers much of this mountainous north-western corner of the province.

Travelfish says:
Insatiable. Photo by: Mark Ord.
Insatiable. Photo: Mark Ord

If you’re coming from Soppong them you’ve probably had your fill of caves for a while and there are a million and one spots in Thailand where you can fling stale bread at podgy fish, so for us the best part would be a stroll through the attractive gardens. That’s if you elect to buy a ticket since, as it is a national park, you’ll have to pay 100 baht for the privilege.

If you’d prefer not to pay up, there is a string of excellent car-park cafes where identikit eateries knock up barbeques, sticky rice and papaya salad with a choice of sizzling chicken, fish (not cave ones) or pork on offer. Pick your own from the grill for what for us is the tastiest lunch to be found between Soppong and Mae Hong Son. There’s also fine coffee to be had and though the cafe is actually beyond the ticket booth within the park itself ticket sellers happily waved us through when we explained we’d seen the fish several times before and were just after one of their reinvigorating brews.

Great for a bite to eat. Photo by: Mark Ord.
Great for a bite to eat. Photo: Mark Ord

There is more to all this than a few fish—the cave is actually part of the huge Tham Pla, Namtok Pha Sua National Park stretching between the Burmese border and the Pai River. It seems a shame that this magnificent stretch of wilderness is trivialised by a bunch of overfed carp and frappuccinos although we guess it does generate park income. If you do go the coffee shop, stop by the small visitors’ centre ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 400 words.)

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Reviewed by

Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.

Tours in Thailand



Our top 10 other sights and activities in and around Mae Hong Son

Mae Hong Son Living Museum
Mae Hong Son Living Museum

Fascinating do it yourself historical walking tour

Ban Rak Thai
Ban Rak Thai

A great day out on a scooter

Trekking
Trekking

Many options

Huay Sua Tao and visiting the Kayan people
Huay Sua Tao and visiting the Kayan people

Interesting visit and they need the cash

Boat trips
Boat trips

Go for a float down the scenic Pai River

The Bamboo Bridge, Su Tong Pae
The Bamboo Bridge, Su Tong Pae

An attractive and photogenic stop-off

Mae Hong Son markets
Mae Hong Son markets

A few to choose from

Tham Wua Forest Monastery
Tham Wua Forest Monastery

Only worth visiting for meditation purposes