Khao Kop Cave in Trang, Thailand


Khao Kop Cave in Trang, Southern Thailand is one of the must-visit places if you are into Eco-Tourism or simply a cave lover. Coming from a tropical country where we have many caves, this place has to be one of the most interesting caves I have visited in my travels. Located in the Trang Province and a very small area here, the nearest town or city is Hat Yai. This place is also located alone the way from Hat Yai to Krabi so for those driving, it would be easy to just stop over here. Judging from the picture above, you are probably wondering what goes on inside this cave which is locally known as Tham Le Khao Kob which is part of the Kao Kop Mountain here.

Khao Kob Cave Entrance

As this was a familiarization trip with Tourism Thailand, we were brought here via a tour van with an excellent guide who knew the area really well. A small office complex was suddenly seen at the main entrance to the Kao Kob Caves as we arrived. Just nearby, two bright gold walls serve as the main entrance to the caves while well manicured landscaping surrounded the entrance. We then crossed a short bridge over a small river where the natural scenery looked untouched. As the name is called Khao Kop, the sign there clearly mentioned Le Khaokob Cave so I wondered if this was meant for the French Cavers? I'll never know as I totally forgot to ask. 

Paddle Boats at Kao Kop Caves

As we crossed over the bridge, there was a jetty with a number of paddle boats waiting for us, each with a local boatman who would take up to six persons per boat. Now here's the fun part - The boat man will decide who sits on which boat as there were about 8 of us here. Reasons I will explain later. Once everyone was on board, we made our way through the little river with lots of green on both sides.

Start of the boat trip

Each boat has a captain and an assistant. The captain will steer the boat while the assistant becomes the rudder at the back. As this was purely paddle power, there was no electrical or motorized activity at all making this a very Eco-friendly place. The journey in the beginning takes about 10 minutes before we reach the cave entrance. First stop, we head in and disembark at a natural platform area where we start to trek inside the caves.

Stunning cave lighting inside

I have to say that the authorities here have done a fantastic job with the overall experience. The walkways inside the caves were very clean while the lighting was spectacular. Very well lit, the colors were in reds, greens and yellows. Each highlighting the unique areas of the caves. While some would dread the colors here, it looked very beautiful. The trek inside lead us to another exit where the paddle boats were waiting for us and we continued to the next cave.

Entering the Dragon's Backbone at Khao Kob Cave

Here's the fun part. The cave actually resembles a dragons torso where it is believed that we are traveling through the backbone of a dragon. As we get deeper inside, the passage way over water starts to become narrow and lower. This magnificent cave waterway stretches over 800 meters long in here. Once the ceiling becomes lower, the captain starts telling us to lie down inside the boat.

Lying down flat on the boat as we navigate through the Dragons backbone

As you can see, we laid down while the captain navigates us through the passage ways here. Such an exciting ride, I told my friends while they looked worried. I simply thought this was a fun ride and did not think much about it as I am so-called used to adventure. Little did I know what was awaiting ahead.

Cave ceiling starts to get lower and lower as we pass through

The passage started to become narrower as we inched out way through the rocks. Looking back, I saw the assistant using his hands to navigate us through the rocks. Looking up, the ceiling was getting lower and lower. I was literally about 70 degrees laid down trying to take pictures (the ones you see here) while Mr.Captain told me to lay flat down in a more serious manner. OK. I better listen to the captain then.
Dragons Belly, maneuvering through in a boat. This is the lowest ceiling point

And it came, the most thrilling part of the boat ride. Just take a look at the picture above. There were six of us on the boat and everyone was laid flat down in order to pass through here. I swear, this was the most thrilling ride in my life. As we maneuvered slowly through this very narrow section, I dare not even move my head. Parts of the ceiling was actually touching my nose as we skimmed through here.

Here's the funny part - at one point, my tummy got caught on one of the stalagmites and the boat just stopped. I gave a loud 'ouch' which both captain and assistant started to use their hands holding the rocks to reverse the boat as we could not proceed. Talk about needing to lose weight. My friends were laughing while laid totally horizontally and they managed to reverse the boat to move a few inches to the right in order to pass this section. I tell you, it was no joke seeing the ceiling pass through a few inches from your eyes and this was definitely one of the most thrilling adventures I have experienced in my life.
Elephant Foot Stalagmite inside Kao Kop Cave

The area we we passed through must have been about 80-100 meters long so that was most thrilling indeed. It was known as the dragon's stomach and can only be accessed when the water levels are low. When it rains, the boats will not go as waters rise inside the caves.


We came to another stop inside the caves where the journey continued on foot inside. This time around there were all kinds of mini stalagmites and stalactites to be seen. As incredible as the pictures look, I spent a good time trying my best to photograph these with a 80% success rate. All because we had a tight schedule ahead while the boat men had informed our guide that rain was approaching. If it did rain heavy and the waters rose, we would have been stick inside here.

Thousands of mini stalagmites lit up in the cave

A huge wall of stalagmite and stalactites along the walkway

Mini stalagmite formations inside the cave

Walkway towards the boats
Natural prayer alter inside the cave

Walking inside the caves was very cooling while there were even natural alters where the Thai people would come in and pray. Colorful pieces of cloth were wrapped around certain stalactites which were prayed to. Each time we passed one, the guide would grasps his palms together and perform the 'wai' in respect. Seeing him do it made us all follow as well. I asked him who the 'god' was and he said that some of them are actually guardians of the caves.

Droplets of water inside the cave

The office complex outside the caves

Finally when we got out of the Khao Kop cave, the weather had changed drastically. Dark clouds had formed and droplets of rain fell. The boatman spoke to our guide in Thai and then he translated it as saying that the gods waited for us to exit before starting to rain. It was a good sign indeed. An experience worth telling everyone about and something I will never forget. Water Caving in Thailand.

The cost to rent a boat for maximum six people is Baht 200. However, the captain and the assistant should be given additional tips as they did a marvelous job here. It takes skill to do this and I hear they are paid very little. So, we chipped in and gave them both a token of appreciation. 

As you exit from the cave river, you will be welcomed by locals who have already attached your photograph on to a souvenir plate(They took our picture just before we started the boat trip). This is sold at Baht 150 per souvenir. Aster the thrilling experience, this was the only souvenir available so I bought one. It is not everyday there are hoards of tourist here therefore we all bought one each helping contribute to the tourism economy here.

The overall length of the water cave is 800 meters long while the thrilling lying down part is about 350 meters long. This is one of the best adventure tourism in Southern Thailand and also one of the most Eco-friendly tourism attraction here. For the serious cavers, there are many other caves in the ares namely the Konthan Cave, Thongprarong Cave, Paeng Cave, Petch Cave, Sawanh Cave and Ply Caves here. Arrangements can be made with the local authorities.

More information about Trang from Wiki.

For more information, you can also contact the Tambon Administration Organization at Telephone Number:  0-7527-1426 

Map to Khao Kop Cave in Trang


View Khao Kob Cave -Tham Le Khao Kop in a larger map


How to go to Kao Kop Caves?
If you are driving or riding, take the Petkasem Road (Highway 4 from Trang to Krabi), pass through the town of Huai Yot and turn left at the 7km marker on to the concrete road of The Office of Accelerated Rural Development, travel for 700 meters and the Tourist Center of Tham Le Khao Kop is located at the end.

For those headed to Hat Yai and have extra time, you should inquire about a half day quick trip here. It is about one to two hours drive from Hat Yai Town. Avoid this place during the rainy season as you will not be able to experience it due to the high waters. Seriously, if you want something different and memorable, I would recommend you come and experience the Khao Kop Caves in Southern Thailand.

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