Quickly becoming a destination on the Laos loop, Nong Kiaw is a sleepy little mountain town resting on the Namou River. Though it only stretches for a few yards, the town has a great feel, and offers a variety of things to do. Only 200 kms north of Luang Prabang, the Nong Kiaw is accessible by boat and bus.
After finding a guest house, one of the most fun attractions to visit is the Hoy Taw Cave. To start your journey, head north out of the town on the dirt road by the main bridge. There are signs pointing you the right direction, and the path itself is very pleasant.
The walk is about one hour on rolling hills to the entrance. Though this seems long, the weather in Nong Kiaw isn’t too grueling, and the sounds of the animals and river help guide you on your way. To the right side, the path is lined by amazing mountains, and in between deep jungle, you are able to see small pists and bamboo houses.
After reaching the entrance,” it is 5000 Kip (less than $1) to start on the 900m walk to the cave. This walk alone is well worth the ticket price. The path leads you through vast fields of rice paddies, through a few small farms (with lovely, smiling Laotian farmers), as well as through a small stream or two. The 900m maybe a bit longer than stated, but you won’t be upset while taking in the scenery.
Once you get to the cave, you’ll be impressed with the depth and complete isolation you find. The cave is very deep, and if you are brave enough (and have a good torch) you can climb down into three different chambers, all with smaller paths that lead you deep underground.
Next to the main cave is a smaller opening, leading to a smaller cave. Though you can see most of what this cave has to offer from above, the climb down makes this journey fun. To get in, you need to use all fours, and have a bit of rock climbing ability. The rocks are muddy and cobweb ridden, but the cave itself is beautiful.
Make sure to bring your head lamp and good walking shoes, because the Hoy Taw Cave is a must-see. Enjoy your time in Nong Kiaw, and have fun becoming a true cave splunker!