About 7 Kilometers west from Vang Vieng, near the village of Ban Na is The Blue Lagoon and Tham Phu Kham cave. The road there is quite bumpy and meanders through rice paddies and impressive limestone-karsts.
The lagoon is like a slow-flowing river that varies in colour from an impressive turquoise, some might even say teal, to slightly emerald-green depending on the season. It tends to be bluer in the dry season and greener in the rainy season. This is a very popular tourist spot. A tree hangs over the water. Visitors often spend a few hours jumping from the tree (there are two different heights for that) into the cool waters below, or swinging from the ropes attached to the tree. Shiny fish swim around in the lagoon, adding to its magical effect. The atmosphere around the Blue Lagoon is generally festive and cheerful with everyone having a good time.
For those who aren’t confident swimmers, life jackets are for rent. The area also offers opportunities to abseil, play on water slides and zip line. There is a small eatery for meals.
The Tham Phu Kham cave is a hike and stairway away. The trail takes visitors through a forest and up the limestone cliff via a steep rocky stairway. The cave entrance is located about halfway up the cliff, reached by a steep climb.
The first large chamber houses a 3-meter long, bronze, reclining Buddha, lit by the sunrays streaming in through a hole in the ceiling. The main reclining Buddha is surrounded by a number of other, smaller Buddha images.
Several galleries branch off from the main chamber and some of the caves in the system are vast. While orange-red arrows show the way around the caves for the most part, not all of the system is marked. Visitors are advised to take caution while exploring the caves, to be sure of their footing and to ensure that they know their way back. The caves are void of lights, either artificial or natural, so it is advised that tourists bring flashlights along to help them navigate the cave system. A good pair of sneakers or hiking sandals are recommended as the rocks in the cave can be slippery.
As with any popular tourist attraction there are some ‘guides’ present. These guides often request a large tip for assisting visitors. Guides are not required. There are also ‘scammers’ in the area that misdirects visitors to misdirect visitors from the real Blue Lagoon and Tham Phu Kham cave in order to charge them a fake entrance fee.
The real Blue Lagoon and Cave has a large welcome sign and parking lot. There are also many tourist in the area and it is locatable by your phone’s GPS.
The Blue Lagoon and Tham Phu Kham cave area offer a mix of adventurous exploring and lazy relaxing all in one place. Work up a sweat exploring the caves and relax and rinse off in the cool, clear waters of the lagoon afterwards.
*A version of this article first appeared at www.zafigo.com