We booked our bus tickets to Kong Lor from our hostel in Vientiane. The tickets cost us 120,000 Kip / 16 USD each and we had booked for the 10am bus. We were picked up from our hostel by a tuk tuk at 8:30am and taken to the Vientiane bus station. The tuk tuk driver took our tickets and exchanged them for another set of bus tickets and pointed us in the direction of the bus. When we got to the bus, we looked at our new tickets and it appeared that we were no longer on the 10am bus. We had been put on the 11:30am bus. We double checked with the bus attendant, who spoke very little English, and he confirmed the departure time and destination. Slightly frustrated, we sat down at a nearby outdoor restaurant, ate some pho and drank a beer. One and a half hours later, we boarded the bus and set off. It was a public bus. An old Korean bus that had seen better days but at least the AC worked and the seats weren’t too uncomfortable. It definitely was no VIP bus.
The bus ride took about 5 hours and when we arrived, we weren’t in Kong Lor yet. We were dropped off on the side of the road and loaded into a tuk tuk with a handful of Laotians. We then drove for another hour to get into the sleepy town of Kong Lor. As we passed a sign pointing to our resort, we knocked on the side of the tuk tuk so the driver would stop. We jumped off, paid the driver 50,000 Kip / 6 USD for the both of us, and trekked for another 15 minutes to our resort. While walking to the resort, we were greeted with the view of beautiful rice fields spanning into the distance all encapsualted within mountains. Kong Lor is a rice farming community set in a beautifully serene and quiet valley. You’ll see cows, water bufffalo and squadrons of ducks roaming through the vibrantly green rice paddies. It really is a place where you can easily unwind. There is not much going on in the town at all. You’ll either be spending time at the cave or relaxing at your accommodation.
We booked 2 nights in a basic bungalow at the Spring River Resort. The room was simple but clean and included use of a shared bathroom. Lucky for us, we were pretty much the only guests. For 15USD per night, we couldn’t complain. The grounds were very beautiful and tropical. It felt as if we were staying at a 5 star tropical jungle retreat. The restaurant overlooked the river which, about a couple of kilometers up stream, flows out of Kong Lor cave itself. The staff were very kind and accommodating. It’s about 30 minutes walking into town but the location is amazing. Basically, we highly recommend Spring River Resort. After checking in, we had dinner, showered off and called it a night.
The next morning, we grabbed breakfast at the resort restaurant and then geared up for our Kong Lor cave adventure. A little info about the cave before I continue.
Kong Lor cave is a 7km long, karst limestone cave through which a river runs. Some of the caverns are as high and wide as 90 meters so it is by no means just a hole in the rock. It is also only accessible by boat.
Back to our story. We trekked through town, which only consists of a handful of rickety houses and guesthomes. After passing the town we went over to the ticket booth where we paid 65,000 Kip / 7.75 USD per person. We then walked through the gates until we arrived at the river and ticket checking counter. We put on our water shoes and were given a life jacket as well as a head torch by our guide. He was a very kind and elderly gentleman who didn’t speak any English.
🚩Kong Lor Cave Tip: Watershoes are necessary as you will probably get your feet wet getting in and out of the boat. In some seasons, when the water level is low, you will have to walk through water. It does get chilly in the cave so also be sure to pack something warm. A water bag is also a good idea as the boat sometimes passes under mid-river waterfalls and you will get some heavy drops on yourself and your items.
To start off our cave trek, we got into a long boat and our guide paddled us to the opposite bank. We then walked up into the entrance of the cave. We were told to wait at the entrance. There were many boats tied up at the entrance of the cave. To one side of the cave entrance, there were many boat motors and our guide collected his and attached it to his boat. We stood and watched for about 10 minutes as our guide tried to start his engine. Eventually he got it started. Through his sweat and exhaustion, he soon called us down to his boat. We turned on our headlamps and set off into the darkness of the cave.
Now, if you have read about any of our other previous cave adventures, you’ll know that we love exploring caves. This cave was absolutely amazing. To say that the caverns of Kong Lor cave are big, is a massive understatement. Even with just our measly headlamps, we were able to get a decent glimpse of the sheer size of some of the caverns. After about 20 minutes of cruising through the cave, the cave opened up into a huge and lit up cavern and our guide docked the boat on the side. We jumped out of the boat and he pointed us in the direction that we had to walk. This part of the cave contained many new and ancient stalagmites and stalactites which were well illuminated to appreciate their size and beauty.
After about 10 minutes of exploring on foot, we made our way down a staircase and rejoined with our guide. We continued through the cave by boat until we came to the other side. We exited the cave and continued up steam until our guide docked the boat along the bank and we were guided to a rest stop with a handful of little restaurants. Most of them were closed due to the low season. We were the only tourists there.
We hung out at a restaurant table for about 30 minutes while our guide chatted with a restaurant owner. After the guide realised that we were not hungry and not going to order any food, he signalled our departure and we returned to the boat.
The return trip was the same way back through the cave. Once back at the starting point, we returned our headlamps and lifejackets, thanked our guide and walked back to the resort. Back at the resort, we rented a canoe and explored the eerie lagoon shrouded in mist and giant spider webs. The lagoon, unlike the cave river, was perfectly clear. We returned to the resort at sunset and enjoyed dinner overlooking the river.
Kong Lor is both beautiful and impressive. If you find yourself in Laos, add it to your itinerary. Yes, it is a little far to get to but the cave and its beautiful surroundings make it well worth the trip. How often can you say that you explored a 7km long cave by boat?
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