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Our Favorite Cave Experiences

There is something alluring about caves. Whether a cave experience is with a guided tour or a solo adventure with a head lamp, stepping into a cave is like entering a completely different world. Caves hold a mysteriousness that speaks to the adventurer in all of us. Amidst the stalagmites, stalactites and beautiful crystals live bats and big spiders and the possibility of yet-to-be discovered creatures.

Everywhere we travel we find that we can not resist the urge to go spelunking in local caves. Here are our favorite cave experiences thus far:

Soreq Cave – Israel

The Soreq Cave, just 2 km east of Bet Shemesh and only a 40 minute drive from Jerusalem or a 50 minute drive from Tel Aviv, is also known as the Avshalom Cave and the Stalagtite Cave. For 100 sheckels per adult you can see the staggering concentration of stalagtites that call the Soreq Cave home. Your ticket includes a short movie in Hebrew explaining how the cavern was discovered out in the middle of the Judean Hills.

Soreq Cave

Inside of the Soreq Cave

Grutas de Lanquin – Guatemala

The hilly village of Lanquin, which is about one hour from Coban, is full of caves to explore! We visited two of them during our stay in this fascinating part of Guatemala: the bat cave just outside of town and the caves at Semuc Champey.

Reaching the Lanquin bat cave is a 15 minute walk from the center of town along the river. The best time to go is before dusk so you have plenty of time to explore the cave before finding the perfect seat at the cave entrance when the sun goes down and wait for the show to begin. Hundreds of thousands of bats will rush past you as they exit the cave for the night. They fly so close that you can actually hear the flapping of their wings and feel the breeze that this generates. It was an amazing experience!

Caves of the World - Guatemala - Lanquin

Bats exiting the Bat Cave

Caves of the World - Guatemala - Spider

A benefit of taking a tour is getting introduced to big cave spiders like this one

We also enjoyed a trip to Semuc Champey, where you can hike jungle-covered mountains as well as explore the Lanquin Caves. The unique feature of this cave (entrance fee was 60 Quetzal, which is just under $8US) was that much of it was filled with water. If you sign up for a tour, which we recommend for this cave, you will learn the skill of swimming through water while negotiating holding a candle. Most tours to Semuc Champey, about a 30 minute ride outside of town, include time to hike along the river as well as visiting the cave. Exploring a dark cave by candlelight is really something you must do at least once!

Caves of the World - Guatemala - Semuc Champey

Looking down at the pools of Semuc Champey in the middle of jungle-draped mountains

Cueva Ventana – Puerto Rico

About an hour drive directly west of San Juan in the town of Aricebo lies the Cueva Ventana (Window Cave) in a limestone cliff face. For $19 US (unless you are a resident of PR in which case you only pay $10 – ID required) you can climb the wooden staircase up to the cave, where you’ll be handed a hard hat and flash light before climbing down into the cave itself. The price includes a guide who will show you formations resembling various things, but the absolute highlight is reaching the window, where you get a gorgeous view of the valley below.

View from inside Cueva Ventana, Puerto Rico

View from inside Cueva Ventana

If you are feeling brave, before returning your hard hat and flashlight, consider exploring one of the neighboring caves on your own. It turns out that they are all connected!

Ligeia spelunking in Cueva Ventana, Puerto Rico

Ligeia spelunking in Cueva Ventana

Batu Caves – Malaysia

At the very last subway station of Kuala Lumpur’s brown line stands the world’s largest statue of the Hindu deity Murugan guarding what is known to the Hindus as Batu Caves. The steep climb up to the mouth of the cave is free but involves sharing the 272 steps with devout Hindus, other tourists and macaques keeping an eye out for any food you might have on you.

Batu Caves with Statue KL

140 foot (42.7 meter) golden statue of Murugan guarding the Batu Caves

Once inside the very massive cave, you can visit the Hindu shrine or simply people watch. The highlight of this cave experience was spending quite some time observing the macaques interact with each other as well as us. We also enjoyed watching them plot to steal from human passersby.

View of the ceiling of the Batu Caves

View of the skylight in the Batu Caves

Mindy standing against a wall with a macaque on it

Mindy hanging out with the macaques

Tham Phu Kham – Laos

Phu Kham Cave is located just outside the village of Vang Vieng and for 10,000Kip ($1.25US) you can climb the uneven stone steps to the cave entrance. From there you can choose to either explore the cave on your own (in which case we recommend either bringing your own flashlight or renting one for an additional 10,000Kip) or hire a guide for 50,000Kip ($6US).

Caves of the World - Laos - Phu Kam

Reclining Buddha statue inside Phu Kham Cave

One of the nice aspects of this cave is the refreshing blue-green water of the Blue Lagoon at the bottom of the steps, where you can swim or jump off branches of a big tree on the shore.

Caves of the World - Laos - Blue Lagoon

The refreshing Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is very popular with the drunken and obnoxious gap year kids so we recommend getting there as soon as the cave entrance opens (8am) when the party crowds are still sleeping off the night before. Also, there are many other caves to explore in the area that are much less touristy. You can follow signs for these caves and for a small fee you can park your bicycle or motorbike on a local’s property and they will give you a headlamp and point you in the right direction. We explored several such caves and each time we were always the only ones there.

Things-To-Do-Vang-Vieng-Laos-Caving

Bravely exploring neighboring caves in Vang Vieng

If you are heading for Phu Kham be sure to know exactly where you’re going before you leave Vang Vieng because there is purposely misleading signage so that you will end up at another cave and pay the entrance fee elsewhere.

Chiang Dao Cave Complex – Thailand

If you drive about 2 hours directly north of Chiang Mai, you will come to the the village of Chiang Dao, where one of the most popular attractions for both Thai and foreign tourists is the Chiang Dao Cave Complex. For only 40 THB ($1.30US) you can enter and explore much of the cave on your own.

Caves of the World - Thailand - Chiang Dao

Delicate-looking interior of Chiang Dao Cave

We highly suggest hiring a guide, who you will find already inside, for a suggested donation of 100 Baht ($3.50US). Leading with a lantern, our guide took us through some very neat locations, including narrow passageways and places to climb through. She also made jokes along the way and kept us entertained.

Caves of the World - Thailand - Chiang Dao Ligeia

Crawling through secret passageways in the Chiang Dao Cave

Crystal Cave – Bermuda

In the tiny island nation of Bermuda lies the gorgeous Crystal Cave and for $22 you can enter an underground world like no other. The hefty ticket price (consider purchasing a discounted ticket to both the Crystal and Fantasy Caves) includes a guided tour through sparking stalactites and stalagmites.

Caves of the World - Bermuda - Crystal Cave

One of the walkways through the impressive Crystal Cave – watch your head!

Like most locations in Bermuda, Crystal Cave is very easy to get to. Not to worry if you haven’t rented a car or motorbike, buses 1 and 3 stop just outside the cave entrance.

Goa Gajah – Bali

Without a doubt the most impressive aspect of Goa Gajah is the entrance! To get inside the cavern you must walk through the mouth of a very menacing-looking demon. We think this in itself was worth the price of the ticket and the ride out there.

GoaGajahCaveEntrance

Standing before the entrance to Goa Gajah

Goa Gajah, which translates to Elephant Cave, is located in the village of Bedulu two kilometers southeast of the popular town of Ubud and so we were able to easily access it on rented bicycles. This very small cave is in a complex that houses stone carvings of Hindu gods from the 9th to the 11th centuries and is surrounded by beautiful grounds where you can hike and explore.

Caves of the World - Indonesia - Goa Gajah

Beautiful Hindi architecture in the Goa Gajah complex

The entrance fee is 15,000Rp ($1.15US) and this includes the sarong rental so be sure to ignore those in the parking lot trying to tell you that you need to buy one from them in order to get in.

What is your favorite cave experience?

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10 Responses to Our Favorite Cave Experiences

  1. travelling crone June 7, 2015 at 10:24 pm #

    Years ago I visited Caves Branch in Belize, it freaking blew my mind… we floated on inner tubes down the river and into the mouth of the cave. When it got too shallow we got out and waded along in the water. Then we spent the night and explored this remote cave system after rappelling down into a sink hole. Awesome. Love caves but not spelunking, too claustrophobic.
    I will definitely hang onto your list and make it mine. 🙂

    • Bounding Over Our Steps June 7, 2015 at 10:31 pm #

      Wow! That sounds amazing!!!! I think it would be worth it to go back to Belize just for that experience alone! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  2. Kristin Addis June 19, 2015 at 10:07 am #

    I got lost in that cave in Laos for like 2 hours. I went in with a friend and our light went out, then we found another group and 5 of us were all trying to go by the light of an iPhone! Pretty funny actually. Blue Lagoon was gorgeous

    • Bounding Over Our Steps June 19, 2015 at 10:13 am #

      That sounds like quite the adventure Kristin. Probably pretty scary at the time though. And yet another reason to buy an iPhone. 🙂

  3. Alex June 19, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

    I love finding caves when I travel, and just posted about The Crystal Caves as well! While definitely less adventurous than others I loved how well lit and easy to photograph they were.

  4. Diana Edelman June 20, 2015 at 11:38 am #

    How did I never make it to the caves in Thailand?!? Great round-up of caves. The one in Bermuda looks breathtaking!

  5. Camels & Chocolate June 20, 2015 at 11:43 am #

    Full disclosure: I am claustrophobic to the nth degree, so a lot of caves freak me out. But several of these look open enough that even I could survive the experience! =)

  6. Laura June 20, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

    Such beautiful views inside and outside! Not sure about the spider, though 🙂

  7. ABI June 27, 2015 at 12:22 am #

    Hm…Ever since a smacked my head on a rock in a cave I’ve felt a lot less love for them! But I’m willing to give everything a second chance!

    • Bounding Over Our Steps June 27, 2015 at 12:42 am #

      Ouch Abi! We can certainly understand your hesitancy to spelunk in the nearest cave but we are impressed that you are still willing to give it another try. 🙂

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