Kong Lor/ Konglor/ Khonglor/ Kong Lo
There exist so many different spellings for the tiny village of Kong Lor at the bank of the Nam Hinboun River; famous because of its neighboured Kong Lor Caves. In those caves the Nam Hinboun River stretches over 7.5 km underground through partially huge vaults along some stalagmites. The villagers offer boat rides on wodden long boats that will leave you humble due to the dimensions and lengths of the cave. The village has only 4-5 guest houses in total. Due to the long journey you will meet only a few others tourists there.
How to get there:
The trip to Kong Lor with public transport is still somewhat complicated and requires endurance.
The way to Kong Lor from the north:
The easiest option coming from Vientiane is taking the direct Bus to the little town of Kong Lor, from where you can just walk to the caves. The bus leaves Vientiane at 10.00 am, costs 80.000 and needs roughly 7 hours. If you come by this local bus it will drop you off and park for the night at the Khonglor Eco Lodge.
For information how to get there from Tha Khaek or other smaller cities, read the section below…
The way to Kong Lor from the South:
To our knowledge there are no direct buses from Pakse or Tha Khaek to the Kong Lor Caves. From both towns you can get into any bus going north, since they all pass on their way up north an intersection in Vieng Kham (the intersection of Route 13 and Highway 8). Get off the bus there and try to ask for buses ( if not you’ll have to charter a Tuk-Tuk) to Ban Nahin. Bus rate is 20.000 Kip – it departs at 2 pm and takes 1 hour. A regular Tuk-Tuk will charge 25,000 kip per person to Ban Nahin. Sometimes Tuk-Tuks will accept taking you (if you are a group) for 50.000 Kip directly to Kong Lor.
From Ban Nahin (has several guest houses) departs a minibus (25,000 Kip at 3 pm to Kong Lo, but Tuk-Tuks should run hourly and cost the same for this one hour trip.
The way back: (Kong Lor – Ban Nahin – Vieng Kham)
Sometimes a minibus leaves at 10.30 am Kong Lo to Ban Nahin (25.000 Kip) and if enough people request it, it brings you directly to Tha Khaek for 75.000 Kip p.P. There also should leave Tuk-Tuks in direction Ban Nahim every hour from 10 am to 4 pm (with an exception at 12 pm).
The Tuk-Tuks start directly in front of the entrance to the caves but usually also pass the street with the guest houses where you can flag them down.
In Ban Nahim you get into a Tuk-Tuk back to the intersection in Vieng Kham (25.000 Kip) where you can hop on a bus to Tha Khaek (30.000 Kip – 3 hours), Pakse (90.000 – 12+ hours) or e.g. Vientiane (50.000 Kip 4-5 hours). All those buses run hourly and all southern bound buses stop also in Tha Khaek.
Possibly the best way to get to the Kong Lor Caves is by renting a motorbike and doing “The Loop”!
The Loop is a few hundred kilometers round trip starting from Tha Khaek following route 13 north before heading East on route 8 to the caves. For the return trip route 12 is chosen. To enjoy the trip and the partially magnificent countryside you should not rush and spend three to four days on the road. But be aware, that the condition of the roads doesn’t go easy on your bums and there are some steep up- and downhill sections.
It’s an challenging but fun adventure if you make sure that your bike (especially the brakes (the right hand FRONT BRAKE is the lifesaving one) and the tires are in good condition and that you drive carefully. Many Falangs have had accidents on that track – drive passive and drive like you are always expecting others to not have seen you. Get a helmet with Visor, because otherwise the dust and insects will blind you…
For a more information about the Loop and the Caves you should take a look at Wikitravel Tha Khaek page!
Accommodation in Kong Lo:
Khonglor Eco Lodge; even better Chanta Guesthouse
Rooms at the Khonglor Eco Lodge are clean and relatively new. The night costs only 50.000. Most people stay right there, but if you walk back the road you came from for about 250 m, you’ll find 3 more guesthouses.
We recommend the Chanta Guesthouse. They lowered their price to 60.000 Kip and are great value for money. Big plus in that guest house – they have Wifi!
Homestay – Stay at the house of a local family
In the village there are plenty of families who offer the option for a homestay, which is by far the cheapest option since you get dinner, breakfast and the night under a Moskito net (possibly even on a mattress) for 50.000 Kip. All participating families are registered and have a sign on their house saying Homestay and their given Number. There are around 25 Families offering homestays, so you’ll always get a bed.
Finding a homestay is easy, just walk into the village and watch out for those aluminium signs. Stay wherever you like it but don’t expect english speaking hosts or comfort.
The caves of course, easily reachable by walking 1 km to the east from Kong Lo. Entry costs to the National park are 2000 Kip. Inside you have to buy a Cave ticket for another 10.000 Kip. The boats have a fixed price of 100.000 Kip and can be shared by a maximum of 3 people. The caves open at 8 am, it’s worth to be the first since they are much more impressive if you have them for yourself. Later there is quite a lot of boat traffic.
Bring swim wear, in front of the caves is a nice place to swim and to jump into the river.
Food and Drinks:
Not much choice… You’ll will end up eating in your Guest House anyways. In the village though there is a nice little restaurant directly at a river – worth a try.
Interested in reading more?
Why don’t you check out our blog entries: