Thailand's North

SOPPONG / THAM LOD

Global Mark : 14.69    Top Ten : No5

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
5 5 1 2 5 2 5 3 3 13.78

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
10 100% (10) 100% (10) 100% (10) 13 to 18 15.60


Description : 
A small relaxing village to be used as a base to visit caves and surroundings Karen villages

Comments : On the way between Pai and Mae Hong Son, make sure to spend a couple of days there. A good option would be to spend the first night in Soppong, leave your bag at the guesthouse and walk to Tham Lod in the early morning. Spend the night there and come back the next morning to catch a bus.

What to do ? Relax ! / See coffins caves / Spend B 100 to tour Lod cave, a big river cave / Watch thousands of bats (going out) & birds (coming in) at dusk / Make friends by the guesthouse fire / Visit Karen villages / Explore !

What you may not like ? Walking the 9km to Tham Lod by too hot weather / Having to pay B 50 for a motorbike ride / Pay B100 for a 5mn bamboo rafting to or out of the cave (a path actually lead to the other side so there is really no need to pay) / The relatively expensive food / 

How long ? Two days would be perfect but one day is also possible


Where to stay ? 

- In Soppong : a few very nice options

bulletJungle Guesthouse, 5mn from bus stop, on the left toward Mae Hong Son / Bungalow 100 to 300 (w. HW shower) / Best restaurant in town / Go there for the huge garden, the isolated bungalows and the relaxing restaurant
bulletSoppong River Inn (formerly Riverside Deck "Cafe Beer Deck" www.soppong.com ), just after the above on the right / Two bungalows w. outside HW 200 / One deluxe with ensuite "open sky" HW bath 450 / Internet B2 per mn / Go there for the great location above the river and the small intimate size / What you may not like : the small intimate size hence the slightly higher cost.
bulletLemon Hill Guesthouse, near opposite Bus stop / Nice Bungalows w. shower 150 or 200 (HW) / Same argument as the above : the river setting is great ! 
bulletLittle Eden Guesthouse (littleeden_soppong@yahoo.com) , 5mn on the road to Pai, before road to Tham Lod / Bungalows w. HW shower 350 (also one with no furniture for 250) / Go there for the impression of luxury, the small swimming pool, to rent a motorbike (200/day) or quad (1000) / What you may not like : not getting the charm of the above & the prices
bulletKemarin Garden, small path on the right, 100m off the main road / Cheapest bungalow in town at 50 but not that charming...


- In Tham Lod :

bulletCave Lodge / A favorite with backpackers / Sgl 60, Dbl 120, Bungalows 150 / Go there for the backpackers atmosphere by the evening fire, the good info about the area / What you may not like : finding it full during HS and if full, the backpacking noises
bulletLang River Guesthouse / A more quiet location down by the river / Dorm 60 (10), Bungalow 150 to 200


Where to eat ? At Jungle Guesthouse

Backpacker's Tips : Andrew Curtis, New Zealand (Oct 08)
« From Soppong you can get a scooter to Tham Lod… or spend an hour or two walking up the road enjoying being away from it all…. As long as its not too hot. We stayed at the Cave Lodge and was in okay…200BHT for very simple, small double room.There were only 5 other people there and the place itself has ALL the info you need to get out and explore the area… see hill tribes for yourself check out hundreds of caves etc… just don’t try in rainy season!!! The main cave is great and you can see all the caverns yourself, without the need of a guide… but if you have the money they are worth it as it helps support the local people. You get to the first 2 caverns by the main entrance, then walk back out and around to where you can watch the birds enter and go up to the 3rd cavern… just mind the guano.
Take your bike or moped or dirt bike with you to see a lot in a shorter time… or spend a week there and do all the things you heard about in Northern Thailand but were beginning to think did not exist anymore!
» 

Backpacker's Tips : Kelley Turner, USA (April 06)
 
« When heading west to Soppong you will not see any mileage signs for the village (I think the locals have another name for it). After passing Pai the bus will stop on a hill halfway to Soppong for a bathroom and snack break; Soppong is the next significant village that the bus will stop at (ask a local passenger). Jungle Guesthouse was cheaper than Lemon Hill G.H. and the mulberry shakes and service were amazing! The easy walk to the Cave Lodge is worth the journey and we had plenty of offers for rides. Check out the website: www.cavelodge.com  and take advantage of the amazing scenery and eco-minded tours. »

Backpacker's Tips : Phil Mines, UK (Fev 05)
 
« Market day Tuesday. Mainly Lisu. Over by early pm. Two Lisu villages up steep hill on a road heading of the main road opposite The River Inn.
Restaurant next door to the chemist is friendly and also serves as the villages local take out. »

Backpacker's Tips : Amtrak Amtrakker, Australia (April 03)  
« 
Soppong River Inn seemed like the Marie Celeste when I visited - no one there. Stayed at Lemon Hill bungalow for 200THB a night next to the river. But would have liked to have stayed at Cave Lodge up at Tha Lod cave, 9km to the north. Very friendly and informative hosts, but place was full, despite having no public transport to the area. Entry to Tha Lod is 100THB and most goes to the local Shan guide. Coffin Caves just to west of Soppong are an easy 30 minute walk from town. A very crowded songthaew leaves from opposite market at 9a.m. for 30THB - spectacular views for most of the way to Pai.  »

Backpacker's Tips : Burt Blackburn (Sept 00)  
« Food : I would recommend Sunny's kao soi shop, just behind the police station. Delicious Burmese kao soi (spicy chicken/coconut/noodle stew) for 15 Baht (open daytime only). Sunny (Burmese) speaks excellent English, is a real comedian, and he is also probably the best trekking guide in Soppong (see below) / Soppong River Inn has a cafe as well : beer and snacks on the deck during the day, family style Thai set dinners in the evening (80 - 100 Baht/person). There is no set menu and they often cook dinners to suit guests tastes. Many of the veggies are organically grown by themselves. / T-Rex serves Thai and German food  but they are a little expensive (the most expensive in Soppong). / Soppong Suki: across from the road from the bus stop. Serving suki and pad thai. Cheap. English language newspapers are available from the newsstand next door.

Sunny and trekking : His charge is 1200 Baht for 3 days / 2 nights, all inclusive (as usual). He can also arrange for elephants leaving out of a Karen village (500 Baht extra). Sunny can also arrange for treks to the Spirit Well. This is not so well known, but it is an incredible sight. It is a very large sinkhole (300 meters across and 100 meters deep). Many of the locals believe it is inhabited by spirits and will not even get close to it. You can actually go down into it by ropes, and some have camped in it and reported strange feelings and dreams. You should definitely see it if you haven't already.
»


Bus Schedules :

To Price Class Duration Time Nb Freq.
Pai 25 fan 1.5 9/10:30/12:30/14:30/18 5 na
Chiang Mai ? fan 5.5 9/10:30/12:30/14:30 4 na
Mae Hong Son 30 fan 2 10,12:30,13:30,17:30 4 na


The trip to Pai : SSSS / L / B25 / 1.5 hrs / fan
Another great ride with fine mountains sceneries along the way, if sitting on the left.

See also the trip from Mae Hong Son

 

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