Soppong Travel Guide
Another Northern town you’re probably not likely to hear about on your trip to Thailand is Soppong. Located only about an hours drive from Pai on the route to Mae Hong Son, most people pass right by this tiny little town. I believe you always have the most unique adventures however when you get off the beaten path.
Soppong may not offer a whole lot of things to do for the typical tourist, but if you’re looking for a more relaxing experience for a few days and you absolutely want to get away from all of the tourists, then Soppong is the perfect stop for you.
Near to Soppong is a town called Ban Tham Lod, and this is actually where I recommend you to stay.
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Located about 45 km away from Pai on the route to Mae Hong Son, you can easily take a bus to Soppong. We rented a vehicle for our trip on the Mae Hong Son Loop, and I recommend this option because when you start getting into the little towns, having your own vehicle is much more beneficial when you want to get somewhere. Many people choose to ride their motobike or motorcycle through Soppong, which is a good option as well. Discuss with your guesthouse in Pai about renting a motorbike for a few days, traveling to Soppong, and then returning the bike back to Pai.
If you’re going to stay in Ban Tham Lod, you will either need to have your own transportation or arrange a ride with a motorbike taxi driver in town.
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I believe the best spot to stay is in Ban Tham Lod, at the follow site Cave Lodge. Here you will find yourself in the most relaxing setting, and I guarantee you’ll meet some interesting people and have some unique experiences. Prices vary by the type of accommodation you’re looking for, but are very affordable (in the 200-1000 baht range). This is the oldest guesthouse in the entire area, long before there were travelers passing through Pai and Mae Hong Son.
The Cave Lodge is owned by an Australian man and his Shan wife. He came to Thailand back in the 1980’s and has some very interesting stories to tell. He wrote a book about his experiences, called “Wild Times: 30 Years on the Thai Border” that I think you will find fascinating. The restaurant serves up some delicious Shan style food, with unique options such as crocodile (or alligator?) and homemade breads. Set within the forest, it’s the perfect place to relax in a hammock and read a book.
The best part of the Cave Lodge is where it’s located, next to the famous cave by the name of Ban Tham Lod.
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Visit the cave Ban Tham Lod, which is easy to reach if you’re staying at the Cave Lodge. This beautiful cave has 1,700 year old coffins, a river passing through with large fish, and about a million swifts that fly out in the evening to catch insects. The Cave Lodge offers many tour options for visiting part of the cave, or for the more adventurous folks, trekking much farther into it, as it extends for many many kilometers, one of the longest cave systems in Thailand.
My favorite part was the dogs that lived at the Cave Lodge led us all the way to the Cave through the woods, like they had done it a million times. When we exited the caves, a different dog was waiting for us that led us back to the Lodge (I’m not joking). If you’re fortunate enough to meet the owner of the Cave Lodge, he will share some interesting stories about the dogs that live in this area of Thailand.