Tham Nam Lod Cave, Phusang Waterfall and temples – Chiang Rai, Thailand

Our day continues from leaving the magical Phu Chi Fa (read: Above the clouds in Phu Chi Fa). That place is so awesome and the view is just so amazing. It’s the most incredible view that I have ever seen. Just standing on a rock looking over the clouds. There are little things that come even close to that.

But now we have to continue our trip. It is still early morning and we will drive south. We are going through the Phu Sang National Park and head towards the waterfalls. On the way there we stop for coffee. Me and Eric are craving for coffee. The other 2 in the back are not. They are very tired and sleeping in the car.

The Phusang Waterfall

After driving for a while through the curvy mountain roads we make our way to the waterfall. There are a lot of cars parked here and we had to pay for parking. This is not a good sign. This means that this waterfall is touristy and they have done everything they can to make it easily accessible and a tourist attraction.

And we were right. In front of the waterfall is a small park. There are kids playing in the water. Now the water is actually warm. The water comes from a hot spring. So the water that comes down the waterfall is warm. This makes the water is the river in front of it warm too. I can see why people go and bathe in it.

There is more to this place than waterfalls. There’s a whole area behind the waterfall. It’s a little tour through the national park and hot springs. There is an entrance fee, but we decide that it is worth it. So we enter the park.

The first part is stairs that run next to the waterfall. And then you end up on a manmade path that guides through the park. There are a lot of information signs along this path. They describe the different levels of the forest, how the crabs makes holes underneath the lakes and the swamp.

There are big trees in the National park. These trees can become up to 3 meters wide! These trees are very tall so they need a very wide base to not fall over. My friend Eric decides to climb into one!

Eventually we make it to the hot spring! There is a sign that saids "No swimming". We could’ve sworn that we saw a picture with people in the hot spring before we entered the park. Well, it’s too hot outside to swim in hot springs anyway. We did get our feet in. The temperature of the water is just perfect.

We continue the pathway and make our way to the exit. The hot spring is beautiful. But we didn’t feel like this park was worth it. But at least the money goes to preserving the national park, so that is a good thing.

On the way out, my friend Eric cannot hold himself and climbs over the railing. He climbs the rocks and decide to take a shower under the waterfall. He is wearing sports clothes that dry quick. I feel like going to, but I don’t want to run around in wet clothes all day. He is having an amazing time!

Wat Nantaram temple

Next we drive to the ‘Wat Nantaram temple’. This temple was recommended to us by one of the staff members of the hostel. It’s a long drive and we are wondering wether it is worth it or not. We just went to that waterfall that was also recommended to us, but it was totally not worth it.

The temple is in a small village. We are following our GPS and it leads us to narrow roads in the village. We’re wondering if this will lead to anything. Eventually we make it to the temple. But we are on the backside of the temple. The GPS tried to navigate us through the narrow roads and we missed some turns which lead us to the backside.

We walk around the temple and make it to the front. There’s barely anyone here. This temple is so calm and out of the way, yet so interesting. It’s the little things that make this temple so great.

There are some rules before going into a temple. First one is that you cannot go inside with your shoes on. Secondly, you need to dress modestly. This means that you have to cover up your shoulders and knees. But this temple lets you use clothing for free! Unlike other popular temples where you have to rent or buy one.

Read: Thailand Temple Etiquette

This temple is very unique. It’s made out of wood and almost has like this cabin style to it. Like a cabin in the Alps or one of those restaurant/bars on the ski slope for the après ski.

We wander around in the temple. First is the buddha and the place for prayer. But when we wander around, we keep bumping in on hidden gems. The first thing we find is a small garden. There is an old umbrella here. They are very traditional hand crafted umbrellas with an astonishing quality and attention to detail. There are more of these laying around in the temple.

But there is a lot more to this temple. We noticed they have free water and free bananas too! This is just perfect. I happened to be very thirsty at that moment and bananas are alway welcome. We have been eating so many bananas lately. We even brought a ton of them on this road trip. Just in case we’re hungry.

The inside of the temple acts like a museum. First we found the traditional umbrellas. But then we find an old money collection. There’s also an old tv and radio collection and old instruments. It all fits the style of this temple. Here’s a picture of the outside.

Wat Phrathat Doi Kham Temple

After visiting the previous temple we decided to head towards the ‘Tham Nam Lod Cave’. On the way there we pass by an interesting Temple. We saw the entrance and decided to stop and take a look.

The entrance is a long stairway with 2 dragons on the side all the way up. It’s a very long way up! We counted the steps, but I forgot how many there were. I think it was around 130 steps, give or take 10 steps.

The temple is hidden away, has no tourists and feels very unique. We don’t know anything of this temple. But it is built on top of, what looks like, a burned down building. The entrance to the temple is spectacular. There’s a huge Phoenix. We haven’t seen anything like this.

Our thoughts were that this resembles the phoenix that rises from the ashes. Since the building is was built on what looks like it was burnt down. But that is a greek mythology, so I have no clue what the real meaning of this phoenix is.

Tham Nam Lod Cave

This is the final stop of this trip. We are going to the cave and then head back to Mercy Hostel in Chiang Rai. The temple is called ‘Tham Nam Lod Cave’ we have googled it and it looks so worth it. The only problem is that the one we saw in the google results is the ‘Tham Lod Cave’ in Pai. The cave we are visiting (Tham Nam Lod Cave) is in the Chiang Kham District. So we are not going to the right one.

On the way there, we hit a road construction. There’s so much mud on the road I can just feel the rental car slide away. I don’t want to take any chances and we continue the last 3 km on foot. Crashing the rental car would be very expensive and end my journey.

About one kilometer in, we see a pickup truck approaching from behind. We decide to hitchhike. We stop the car and ask to drop us off near the cave. He approves and we are now in the back of the pickup truck.

He drops us off in a small town very close to the cave. We have to follow a dirt path towards the cave. Something is fishy about this. The cave we googled had over 200 reviews and is well visited. There are bamboo boats that bring you to 3 different caves. Yet here we are, in the middle of nowhere and no signs pointing towards the cave. A big cave like that is always well marked and has signs by the road.

We continue going anyway. The views are amazing. We are in a valley surrounded by mountains. We follow the path and have to cross a bamboo bridge. This is the first time we see a sign pointing towards the cave.

We finally find the entrance to the cave. We already know at this point that we are at the wrong one. But we don’t know why. It is the correct name. It is only the next day that I figure it out. The cave we found on google is the popular one in Pai.

We explore this cave. The inside is very dark. There are also a lot of mosquitoes. There are also shrines inside. It is something very unique to explore. If you plan to come to visit this cave, bring a flashlight or headlamp and mosquito repellent.

We finish the day by drinking a beer in the small village and then head back towards the car towards home. It has been a long day. As you can see, my friends in the back are very tired!

Back in Chiang Rai me and Erik are going to get a massage before going to bed. It’s the perfect way to end such a long day. There were a lot of tensions and cramps in my muscles from all the hiking we did. Here’s me right before I get the massage, you can see on my face that I’m absolutely exhausted.

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