Phu Pha Phet Cave in Satun Thailand
Phu Pha Phet Cave in Thailand is one of the must visit places when you visit Manang district in Satun, Southern Thailand. This well kept secret has only recently been exposed to international tourism and for those who enjoy some serious Eco-Tourism or love caves, this is the place to visit. Also translated as the Diamond Mountain Caves, this is the largest cave in Thailand, the third largest in the world and apparently unavailable in most international travel guide books. I had the pleasure of exploring these caves with the help of Tourism Authority of Thailand in June 2010 and it was a very interesting experience.
Cave Lights for rent at the entrance
Phupha Phet Caves are located about 80 kilometers from Hat Yai and is about an hour and a half drive there. On arrival at the caves, you need to pay a 30 Baht entrance if you are going without a guide. In this case, I would recommend you book one of the tours with a proper English speaking guide as it will make things so much easier for your cave trip here. As we arrived at the large car park outside, there were toilets and stalls selling local Thai snacks, souvenirs and drinks. Well, the caves have been popular with the locals hence the local taste here and tall rainforest trees obstruct your view to the caves. After walking in about 100 meters, we reach a hut where locals rent out Cave Headlights at 20 Baht each set. You will need one of these for your caving trip here.
Phupha Phet Cave - 335 Steps up
From after renting the cave headlights, we start the climb up to the caves. A path through the rainforest with occasional concrete steps along the way provides those visiting an easier passage. Don't forget to look around when heading up the 335 steps as you may encounter some unique bugs and insects.
Arriving at the Phupha Phet Cave entrance, a local cave guide which is included in the entrance fees will be there to take you the rest of the way inside considering you would not want to get lost inside the largest cave in Thailand.
A Monk exiting the cave entrance
The cave entrance was rather unique as it was just a small hole enough for a person to crouch in and out. When we arrived there, a group of monks we seen exiting the cave therefore we had to wait for everyone to come out.
Thai Monks after exiting the Phuphaphet Cave
I asked my guide how come monks were moving in and out of the caves and was told that a lot of monks from around the district would come here and pray inside the caves.
Stairs lead to different levels of the Puhpha Phet Cave
Crawling through the little cave entrance, I felt a strong gush of cold cave wind escaping through the hole. Once inside, I was instantly greeted by a spectacular sight of the Phuphaphet Caves. Out of the entire 18 acres and seven floors of caves here, only 2 floors are opened to the public for exploration. There are also a total of 20 cave rooms to visit at the two floors and this alone will easily take you about one to two hours. So take note of the timing spent here.
From here on, it was wooden walkways up and down throughout the caves. At certain sections, you were lead onto the main cave grounds without any walkway therefore you should follow your guide closely. The cave floors can be slippery so it is best to wear some proper sports shoes with a good grip. You will see extremely huge stalagmites and even the beautiful cave corals and possibly some cave life like spiders, frogs and other cave dwelling creatures.
Natural light shining on Jade Rock
After about 10 minutes of walking and checking out the various stalagmites and stalactites, we reached the area where a famous Jade Stone with natural sunlight hitting it from above. This was the highlight for most of the local tourist here.
Giant 'Jade' Rock inside Phupha Phet Cave
Walking down the wooden stairs, you will reach the Jade Rock or Stone of Phuphaphet. A wooden barrier surrounds this unique stone while locals are seen throwing money on to the stone for luck From there we ventured into many other cave rooms where more stories was told by the local guide an then translated to us. Some of them pretty interesting.
A giant cave frog about 10 inches long
Shimmering bits on the cave walls give the Diamond Mountain Cave name
Interesting rock formations inside the cave
Penis shaped stalagmite structure
One of the unique stalagmite formations include a penis shaped structure standing at about 12 inches tall. What impressed me more was the fact that people actually offered flowers and prayers to this one of a kind structure here in the caves. This was located in one of the rooms bypassing a small cave pool and located in the dark. There are no lights therefore you should be extra careful here.
Visiting Phuphaphet Caves;
- Walking shoes with good grip is a must
- Water bottle
- Powerful torchlight
- Head Lamps are available for rental
Phuphaphet Information just before you enter
Phupha Phet Caves in Thailand - Information
- Phu Pha Phet is also known as Diamond Mountain Cave due to the shimmering particles inside the cave
- Largest Cave in Thailand
- 3rd Largest Cave in the World
- 18 acres in total size
- 7 cave floors (only 2 floors for visiting)
- 20 cave rooms to visit on the 2 floors
- Opening times - 8.30 am till 4.30 pm daily
- Entrance Fee - 30 Baht
- Cave Lights Rental - 20 Baht
- Total time at caves - About 2 hours
- Total time including journey - About 3-4 hours
This place is suitable for those who enjoy cave visits, Eco-Tourism or want something different. Special thanks goes out to Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) for making this trip possible and if you are ever in the Satun district of Thailand, do make a visit to the Phu Pha Phet Cave.