Khao Kop Cave in Trang

Trang Khao Kop Cave

Khao Kop Cave in Trang of Southern Thailand is one of the must-visit places if you are into Eco-Tourism or simply a cave lover or adventure tourism.

Coming from a tropical country with many caves, this place has to be one of the most exciting caves I have visited in my travels. The nearest town or city is located in the Trang Province, and a very small area here is Hat Yai.

Khao Kop Cave in Trang

The caves are also located along 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 in this region.

Tham Le Khao Kob EntranceKhao 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 well. 

As we arrived, we suddenly saw a small office complex at the main entrance to the Kao Kob Caves. Just nearby, two bright gold walls serve as the caves' main entrance, while well-manicured landscaping surrounds the opening. 

We then crossed a short bridge over a small river where the natural scenery looked untouched. The name is Khao Kop, and 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 my guide. 

Boats at Khao Kop Cave
Paddle Boats at Kao Kop Caves

Khao Kop Cave Adventure

As we crossed over the bridge, there was a jetty with several paddle boats waiting for us, each with a local boatman who would take up to six persons per boat.

Here's the fun part - The boatman 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. It was kind of refreshing to see so much nature here. 

River at Khao Kop Cave
Start of the boat trip

Each boat has its own captain and an assistant. The captain will steer the boat while the assistant becomes the rudder at the back, leading us in the right direction.

As this was purely paddling power, there was no electrical or motorized activity, 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 where we start trekking inside the caves.

Caves in Southern Thailand
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, and the lighting was spectacular.

Very well-lit, and the colours were reds, greens and yellows. Each highlights the unique areas of the caves. While some would dread the colours here, it looked beautiful.

The trek inside led us to another exit where the paddle boats were waiting for us, and we continued to the next cave.

Entering The Dragon's Torso

Khao Kop Caves Dragon Backbone
Entering the Dragon's Backbone at Khao Kob Cave

Here's the fun part. The cave resembles a dragon's torso where it is believed that we are travelling through the backbone of a dragon.

As we get deeper inside, the passageway over the 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 tells us to lie down inside the boat, and we will want to do that. 

Adventure in Khao Kop Caves
Lying down flat on the boat as we navigate through the Dragons backbone

As you can see, we lay down while the captain navigates us through the passageways. 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.

Boat Ride in Khao Kop Cave
The Cave ceiling starts to get lower and lower as we pass through.

The passage became narrower as we inched our way through the rocks. Looking back, I saw the assistant using his hands to navigate us through the rocks.

Looking up, I noticed the ceiling was getting lower and lower. I was about 70 degrees laid down trying to take pictures (the ones you see here) while Mr Captain told me to lay flat down more seriously. Alright, jokes aside, I better listen to the captain then.
Khao Kop Cave Dragon Belly
Dragons Belly, manoeuvring 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 to pass through there.

I swear, this was the most thrilling ride in my life. As we manoeuvred slowly through this narrow section, I dared not move my head. Parts of the ceiling touched 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 ship as we could not proceed.

Talk about needing to lose weight. My friends laughed while lying horizontally, and they managed to reverse the boat to move a few inches to the right 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.
Khao Kop Cave Elephant Foot
Elephant Foot Stalagmite inside Kao Kop Cave

The area we passed through must have been about 80-100 meters long, which was most thrilling indeed.

It was known as the dragon's stomach and could only be accessed when the water level are low. When it rains, the boats will not go as waters rise inside the caves.

Photo of Tham Le Khao Kob
Tham Le Khao Kob

We came to another stop inside the caves, where the journey continued on foot inside. This time, all kinds of mini stalagmites and stalactites were seen.

As incredible as the pictures look, I spent a good time trying my best to photograph these with an 80% success rate.

All because we had a tight schedule ahead while the boatmen had informed our guide that rain was approaching. If it did rain heavily and the waters rose, we would have been stuck inside here.

Thailand Mini Stalagmites
Thousands of mini stalagmites lit up in the cave.a massive huge wall of stalagmites and stalactites along the walkway

Stalagmite at Khao Kop Cave
Mini stalagmite formations inside the cave

Photo of Khao Kop Cave
The walkway towards the boats
Khao Kop Cave Prayer Alter
Natural prayer alters inside the cave.

Walking inside the caves, I noticed natural alters formed by mother nature where the local Thai people would come in and pray.

Colourful pieces of cloth were wrapped around certain stalactites, which were prayed to. Each time we passed one, the guide would grasp 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 were actually guardians of the caves.

Photo inside Khao Kop Cave
Droplets of water inside the cave

Finally, the weather changed drastically when we got out of the Khao Kop cave. Dark clouds had formed, and droplets of rain fell.

The boatman spoke to our guide in Thai and then translated it as saying that the gods waited for us to exit before it started raining. 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 a maximum of six people is Baht 200. However, the captain and the assistant should be given additional tips as they did a marvellous 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 onto a souvenir plate (They took our picture just before we started the boat trip). This is sold at Baht 150 per souvenir.

Office for Khao Kop Cave
The cave office

After the thrilling experience, this was the only souvenir available, so I bought one. It is not every day that there are hoards of tourists 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 one of the most Eco-friendly tourist attractions here.

There are many other caves in the area for serious cavers, 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 is from Wiki.

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

Map to Khao Kop Cave in Trang

How to go to Kao Kop Caves?

Directions to the caves are tricky, and if you are driving or riding a bike, below is the information.
  • Take the Petkasem Road (Highway 4 from Trang to Krabi)
  • Pass through the town of Huai Yot and turn left at the 7km marker onto 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
The best way to find this place is to use Waze or Google Maps, or you can go old school and ask the locals if you need directions. 

You should inquire about a half-day quick trip here for those headed to Hat Yai who have extra time. It is about a one to two hours drive from Hat Yai Town.

A tip is to avoid visiting this place during the rainy season as you will not be able to experience it due to the high waters.

Conclusion

You can read about my travels around Krabi as I have done quite a few articles covering ecotourism, nature and general tourism.

And finally, if you want something different and memorable in Southern Thailand, I recommend you come and experience the Khao Kop Caves in Trang.