Imagine a small village in a sleepy valley with huge limestone mountains surrounding it. This village lies by a beautiful river with amazing fluvial beaches. It’s called Kong Lor village and it’s more than 50 km from the main road, which in “Laos time” means at least 2 hours. This would be another lost village in the middle of Laos. However, next to Kong Lor village there is a pitch black cave that rips the karst mountains. This is the Kong Lor Cave!

How to Visit Kong Lor Cave in Laos

Kong Lor Cave is 7 km long and has two main entrances. If we think about it, it looks more like a huge natural tunnel than a cave. At times the Cave is 100 meters wide and almost as high… One fantastic thing about it is the river that flows from one entrance to the other. The other is that this river is navigable by longtail boat!

Our experience in Kong Lor Cave

Let’s take this out of our chest and be very clear from the beginning: Kong Lor Cave was easily our favorite thing in Laos! Heck, it was one of the best (if not the best) activities we did in South East Asia!

Planning a visit to Laos? Check this list of 50 things you should know before going to Laos?

When we reached the river we were amazed by its color and beauty. Then our guide took us inside the cave by foot and afterward into the boat. Tip: take shoes (or flip-flops) you can soak because you will need to walk on water a few times. Walking barefoot is not an option. As we start snaking through the river we begin to realize how big Kong Lor Cave is. We can divide the cave tour into 5 steps: the entrance, the walking, the long ride, the break, and the return.

How to Visit Kong Lor Cave in Laos

The entrance of the Kong Lor Cave

The first step was to enter the boat and navigate into the fully dark cave! There aren’t many activities that leave us awestruck and speechless but that’s what happened in Kong Lor Cave for at least 15 minutes. Navigating through a thick black cave with just a flashlight in our heads was a first and something to remember for a long time!

Walking in Kong Lor Cave

After a good 15 minutes of riding through the cave, we reach a point where the guide docks the boat and leaves us in a colored lighted trail through limestone formations, full of stalagmites and stalactites. The contrast of the blue, red and green lighting with the darkest black makes a beautiful environment.

How to Visit Kong Lor Cave in LaosThe long ride to the other side of the Kong Lor Cave

At the end of the trail, we return to the boat and start a long 6 KM ride through the night. This time it’s more obvious that we going upstream and that the river is sometimes a bit rafty. In some sections the river is really shallow, two times we need to get out of the boat and push it through the shallow water. The other time we stopped because there was quite a big raft, impossible to go through in the boat. We got out, the guides took the boats upstream, and then return to the boat. After a few more minutes we exited the cave.

Visiting Kong Lor Caves

The break outside Kong Lor Cave

As we left the Cave and our eyes adapt to the bright light again, we enjoyed the scenery for a few more minutes before stopping for a break. The guide stops close to a village where a few women sell snacks and drinks. We enjoyed the surroundings and a rest before heading back, however it is possible to visit the village close by.

Tour through Kong Lor Caves

The Return to Kong Lor village

The return is made the same way, but this time we are going downstream so the trip is a bit faster. We also don’t need to disembark and wade because the flow helps going down the river. Anyway, even without stopping and doing the walking trail, it still takes 45 minutes to return to the start of the tunnel.

Reasons to visit Kong Lor Caves

In the end, we went to the river to swim and play by the water for the rest of the day. We found the river oddly warm and the very relaxed vibe of Kong Lor made it a good place to rest before the huge journey of return to modern civilization.

Swiming in Kong Lor Caves

Useful information on Kong Lor Cave

Price to Kong Lor Cave

2 000 Kip per person to enter the National Park. 100 000 Kip to hire a boat. The boat has the capacity for 3 visitors (plus guide). 10 000 per person for visit to the cave. In our opinion, this is extremely cheap for the time it takes and for the experience it is. We ended up tipping the guide because we felt we paid too little for what we got!

Time required to visit Kong Lor Cave

The guided tour to Kong Lor cave should take at least 3 hours! However, you will probably stay in the village the whole day, so no worries there 🙂 On the other hand, the whole thing will take you about 3 days because of the traveling time between Kong Lor and any other place…

Time required to visit Kong Lor Cave

How to get to Kong Lor

Kong Lor Cave is 1 km from Kong Lor Village, near… well nothing! It’s far away from everything. 6 to 7 hours or 315 km from Vientiane; 300 km from Savannakhet… 515 km from Paksè… Laos is a remote country, Kong Lor is remote within Laos. There’s only one bus from Vientiane and the same bus returns the next day to Vientiane. As far as we could discover this is all the connection they have through public transportation. If you want to go to other places, you have to get that bus to the main road (N13) and then get another bus… but don’t let this prevent you from going there… In Laos, the journey is always half of the fun!

Is it worth it to go to Kong Lor?

Accommodation in Kong Lor

You will almost surely want to sleep in Kong Lor! And this is the one time we tell you to book in advance! Kong Lor is very very small and in the middle of nowhere, you don’t want to risk not having where to sleep.

Is it worth it to go to Kong Lor?

Traveldrafts fun factor:10/10 – How many times have you went through a 7-km river cave?

Jorge Bastos

Jorge is an economist who loves to travel. He has worked in Portugal and in Angola as the Head Financial Controller of an international transports and logistics company. He is always planning new trips and discovering new places he wants to go. He explores his ability in finance and planning to help you plan your trips, take the most of your dollars and travel more, smarter and better.

8 Responses

  1. TalesOfABackpacker says:

    I still get freaked out by caves but I just went to one in Belize & definitely enjoyed it more than last time! I’ll add this to my list for Laos though 😀

  2. Sheena Leong says:

    I love caves but haven’t heard of this one – I like that you can go out there on your own, you don’t need a tour right?

  3. Glimpses of The World says:

    You made me laugh with that “Laos time”. 😀 So amazing that parts of the world have “their” time. I remember when they told me to be at the meeting point at 8am, “Cuban time”. It turned out to be nine and a half! 😀
    Love the cave, by the way. What a great day you’ve had, so worth it! 🙂

  4. 33andfree says:

    What a great write up. This looks like quite the adventure. Caves are fun to explore and I like how different this one seems to be.

  5. Christine Krzyszton says:

    Caves are great for exploring but this on looks unique. Enjoyed reading about your experience there; you described it well. I’ll bet the dark part was a little scary but those colors made for awesome shots. Nice post.

    • Paul Vogel says:

      Thanks for the Great write up.. Paul and Karen Vogel, in Phnom Penh… may take your advice and try this out before the end of 2017. Looks great.

      • coupleRTW says:

        🙂 thank you. We strongly advise you to do it! This was one of our favorite activities in South East Asia! Not only the caves, but the whole process of getting there, staying in the village and then going to Pakse…