These rugged adventure holidays from Singapore will have you exploring through caves, underground rivers, waterfalls and hidden culture
And so you’ve snorkelled around Southeast Asia’s most glorious beaches and said hello to its beautiful underwater inhabitants and colourful corals. You’ve also conquered Southeast Asia’s best climbing and trekking destinations, enjoying breathtaking panoramic views of volcanic landscapes and surreal cloud-enveloped summits. So what’s next on your bucket list of adventure vacays? How about caving? From Malaysia and Indonesia to Myanmar and Laos, it’s time to set your eyes on these beautiful yet enigmatic caves in Southeast Asia, and discover these magnificent natural wonders that are created through thousands of years of weathering. Caving in to wanderlust? You betcha.
Phraya Nakhon Cave, Hua Hin, Thailand
Situated in the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park in the province of Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phraya Nakhon Cave is one of Thailand’s most magnificent caves. This giant limestone cavern is decked with an abundance of green trees and has a rooftop hole that allows beams of light to enter radiantly. Said to be frequented by the Thai Royals, Phraya Nakhon Cave is where you’ll find a gorgeous Buddhist pavilion that was built at the end of the 19th century for King Chulalongkorn the Great (Rama V).
Getting here: Fly to Hua Hin and then rent a car to Phraya Nakhon Cave.
Phnom Chhnork Cave, Kampot, Cambodia
A stone’s throw away from the lush green of paddy fields in the district of Kampot, Phnom Chhnork Cave is one of the many natural wonders in Cambodia that you cannot miss. After overcoming the 203-steps staircase that leads up to the main cave, you’ll be greeted by an astonishing stalactite elephant-like structure, two natural chimneys and interesting remnants of a brick temple that is believed to date back to the Funan Kingdom in the 7th century. And when you’re on top (of the world), you can enjoy a picturesque view of the beautiful paddy fields from around the area.
Getting here: Fly to Phnom Penh and then head to the central bus station near the central market for bus services to Kampot. From Kampot, you can easily get to Phnom Chhnork by tuk tuk.
Goa Jomblang, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
As recommended by Hazirah (our team’s video-guru who’s also a hip jet-setter), a trip to Yogyakarta is incomplete until you visit the exotic vertical cave, Goa Jomblang. After thousands of years of geographical processes, the vicinity forms a collapse doline (or commonly known as sinkhole). If you’re up for some adrenaline-pumping action, you’ll probably enjoy the process of abseiling 60 meters down into this cave. At the bottom of the cave, you’ll enter a beautiful, dense ancient forest filled with flora such as mosses, ferns and more. To further elevate your cave adventure, trek for another 300 meters ’til you stumble upon the edge of Goa Grubug – a sinkhole that boasts a natural phenomenon affectionately dubbed “Heaven’s Light”!
Getting here: Fly to Yogyakarta and then rent a private car to Goa Jomblang.
Tham Phu Kham, Vang Vieng, Laos
Deemed by the locals as a sacred destination, Tham Phu Kham in the province of Vang Vieng is a must-visit for your dosage of natural wonders when jet-setting in Laos. Venture into this cave and discover a bronze reclining Thai Buddha sculpture. Apart from featuring a labyrinth of chambers, galleries and crevices, Tham Phu Kham is also well-known for its breathtaking lagoon called Blue Lagoon located nearby. Its crystal-clear turquoise-blue waters are absolutely enticing, luring tourists from all over the world.
Getting here: Fly to Vang Vieng and then ride a tuk tuk or songthaew to Tham Phu Kham.
Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia
Not only does this prominent place of worship in Malaysia attract thousands of worshippers, it also brings tourists (especially rock-climbing enthusiasts) from all over the world to witness its glorious limestone abutments. Here, you’ll find three main caves that house various temples and Hindu shrines; you’ll even find a massive statue of a Hindu God at the entrance. To enter the main cave, you’ll have to climb the famous 272 steep steps, after which, you’ll be rewarded with a scenic view of the skyline of the city centre. Along the way, you might also encounter a handful of playful monkeys – so remember to keep a close eye on your belongings!
Getting here: Fly to Kuala Lumpur and then take a taxi to Batu Caves.
Sarawak Chamber, Gunung Mulu National Park, Malaysia
As the world’s largest cave chamber, it is no wonder that Sarawak Chamber is a popular destination amongst travellers (and we believe that it should be top on your list of must-see caves in the world). This underground hollow is so gargantuan that it’s known to be able to fit several Boeing 747 aircrafts in it. It is also part of Gua Nasib Bagus (Good Luck Cave) which is tucked within Gunung Mulu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A visit to Sarawak Chamber is certainly not for the faint-hearted; expect a long hike up along the river, some swimming and even traversing along a steep boulder slope.
Getting here: Fly to Kota Kinabalu and then hop on the Airport Shuttle by local community to Mulu.
Pindaya Caves, Pindaya, Myanmar
There’s more to Myanmar than just hot air ballooning in Bagan or diving in Ngwe Saung Beach. Apart from being a Buddhist pilgrimage site, Pindaya Caves, located next to the town of Pindaya, is also a tourist hotspot in Myanmar that features stunning limestone caverns. Get ready to be mesmerised by this 150-metre long cave which is fascinatingly filled with at least 8000 images and statues of Buddha.
Getting here: Fly from Yangon to Heho airport, and then rent a car to Pindaya Caves.
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Palawan, Philippines
Recognised as the largest underground river in the world, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River is an enchanting 8.2 kilometre-long water channel that passes through Saint Paul Underground River Cave and flows out to the vastness of South China Sea. This underground river features spectacular limestone karst landscapes and even has small waterfalls within the cave. As an area of biodiversity conservation, it also boasts a myriad of unique species of animals and plants.
Getting here: Fly from Manila to Puerto Princesa, and then take a boat ride to Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park from the town Sabang.
Sung Sot Cave, Halong Bay, Vietnam
Famed for its emerald waters and majestic limestone cliffs and isles, Halong Bay is surely a spectacular seascape. What’s more? It is also home to many natural treasures including Sung Sot Cave (otherwise known as Surprise Cave) Experience the raw beauty of Sung Sot Cave on Bo Hon Island, and be astonished by its perfectly smooth walls which make it seems like it was carved by man. Explore far within the chamber and you’ll uncover its ‘royal garden’, that flaunts a clear pond and a spectacular landscape of small mountains.
Getting here: Fly to Hanoi, and then get a car transfer to Halong Bay.
Hang Son Doong, Quang Binh Province, Vietnam
You’ll be surprised to know that the world’s largest cave is nearer than you might think. Hang Son Doong, set in the Quang Binh Province of Central Vietnam, is known as the largest cave passage cross-section in the world. Hang Son Doong was created more than two million years ago by river water eroding limestone underneath a mountain. More than 150 metres of height, 200 metres of width and roughly nine kilometres of length, this colossal cave in Vietnam will awe you with its enormous stalagmites, majestic stalactites, super-abundant greeneries, and its large, fast-flowing subterranean river. So, if you’re searching for an adventure of a lifetime that entails trekking, hiking and rappelling, time to book an expedition tour to this jaw-dropping natural wonder.
Getting here: You require professional guidance to visit Hang Son Doong. Check out Oxalis Adventure Tours to find out more about its expedition tour to Hang Son Doong.