Kong Lor Cave

Kong Lor Cave

The cave is situated in the Phou Hin Bun National Park. Billed as a 7 km cave through which a navigable river passes, it looks shorter on the map, but none the less impressive. A motorized decrepit long boat takes you through a long stretch of inky blackness, lit only by the small head torch of the boatman as the boat speeds manically into the night. There is an illuminated section in the middle, where you get out and walk through the caverns and limestone formations.The far end emerges into a lush valley hidden effectively from the world. Until recently there was no road access, and their sole method of transport was the run through the cave. Today there is a dirt road, but although only 7 km by river, the road distance is 60km

In several places we had to get out as the boat was dragged over shallows to reach deeper water. Chris found the voyage through the darkness so un-nerving that she enquired about the possibility of returning by road, but the road distance made that impracticable. So return by boat, she had to do.

The total experience is the nautical equivalent of a roller coaster in the dark. You have to have literally "blind faith" in the boat driver, whom you hope has done the trip so many times before that he knows every rock both above and below water. When it came down to our perceptions of the experience, I quite enjoyed the frisson of excitement - Chris did not.

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Basically you come to this part of Laos to take the boat trip through the cave, and need somewhere in the area to stay. Our lot was to stay at Auberge Sala Hinboun. But as a number of recent reviews on TripAdvisor have said, the hotel seems on a downward slide. It may be because the son has taken over from the father.

I will not mince words here. This is one of the worst hotels I have ever stayed at. It was dirty, dingy and lacked any charm to offset these failings. Plus on check out the owner deliberately short changed me when I paid the bill.

A basic room, - I accept that a basic room is bound to be what is on offer in a remote area . But it was lit by a single 40 watt bulb, other lights not working, and bathroom light not working. Lack of any bedside lights made it impossible to read in the room. Lights in reception area were not much better. Our small balcony overlooking the river had no lights either, so that was not usable after dark. The curtains and bedspread were made of a thin nylon material that had seen better days a long, long tme ago. The unwashed mosquito nets were grey with dirt. The squalid looking sheets, which once had been white, were now light brown and had several holes from old cigarette burns.

The evening meal was fine, but very expensive for a basic guest-house - you have no other choice but to eat here. Service was non existent. No welcome, told to order our food on arrival. We sat down at the appointed hour and our food - not even what we had ordered, but that did not worry us-,was plonked gracelessly in front of us. Breakfast was much the same

Wifi was switched off so was not working, even though the password was displayed prominently at reception, and the owner knew we were trying to get a connection.

If you have to stay in the area I would urge you to try somewhere else. We did not stay there but the Spring River Resort looks from reviews to be a much better, and is on the river slightly closer to the cave.


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We were happy to leave here the next morning. It was only after we left that I discovered I still had the room key - the unsavoury argument over the owner's short changing when I paid the bill had left me so angry that I clean forgot to leave the key

On to Phonsavan

Our Cambodia and Laos Holiday

All Our Holidays