Tham Nang Ene

Tham Aen - Tham Nang Aen - Tam En


Useful Information

Location: Xiangliab.
Southeast of Ban Kouanphavang, southwest of Houay Payxan. National Road 12, from Thakhek to Nakai, 1.75 km east of Xiangliab, turn right on dirt road.
(17.444045, 104.948519)
Open: All year daily 8-17.
[2021]
Fee: Adults LAK 30,000.
Boat Tour: Adults LAK 50,000.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System LightColoured Light
Dimension: A=336 m asl.
Guided tours: Walking Tour: D=1 h, L=1,000 m.
Boat Tour: D=3 h, L=1,000 m.
Photography: alowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Claude Mouret (2017): Contribution to Cave Tourism Promotion in Laos, Proceedings of the 17th International Congress of Speleology, Sydney 2017, pp 183-187. pdf
Claude Mouret, Jean-François Vacquié (1993): Deux écoulements karstiques souterrains du Laos Central, Spelunca Bull, 51, p41-45. pdf
Address: Tham Nang Ene, Tel: +856-54-830-062.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1992 survey by Laos expedition.
MAR-1993 wooden ceremonial temple erected for the visit of the Princess of Thailand.
1997 opened as a show cave.

Description

Tham Nang Ene, also known under the transliteration Tham Nang Aen. The cave is a river cave and offers a walking tour and a longer tour which includes a boat ride. The short tour only shows the fossil parts of the entrance section. On the long tour the visitors are ferried further into the cave, where they leave the boat and walk a round trip through the fossil part of the cave. The cave has numerous coloured lamps, but fortunately most lamps are white.

The cave is located at the foot of a steep limestone mountain, 1.75 km east of the village Xiangliab. From the parking lot a small tram brings the visitors to the cave. Two staircases lead up the debris pile at the entrance to the cave portal. Inside the cave a similar slope goes down to the floor of the cave passage. This entrance chamber is 200 m long, up to 250 m wide, and has a height of 30 m. The huge chamber is very well developed with concrete trails, rather baroque concrete railings, and electric light. There are restaurants, souvenirs shops, toilets and parking in front of the cave. That's very much above Laotian average, and most visitors are quite impressed. The coloured light is nevertheless a drawback.

The rear part of the cave is different though. There are narrow and low passages, the trail is sometimes very well developed with steel staircases, the next passage has a simple dirt track. Some passages have no lamps, and you have to walk carefully to the next lighted section. At the end of the cave, it is exited in some kind of collapse. This upper entrance is one of the largest cave entrances in the world, // todo

In March 1993, Princess Maha Chakri Sirinthorn of Tailand, also named Princess Phra Tep, King Rama IX’s daughter, went to Takhek and wished to visit sight. She was led to Tam En and was enthusiastic about the cave and its further development. This was a great incentive for the local authorities to develop the cave as a show cave. The cave got concrete trails, stairs, and coloured light. The cave river Te was dammed to create a long lake which allows boat trips. In front of the cave a garden park was installed.

In the 1990s the cave was called Tam En (Cave of Swallows) by the locals and was traditionally used to cross the mountain. After the guerrilla war in the country ended in 1992, at least in Khammouane Province, the country slowly opened to foreigners. It was a French team of cavers who went to the country and explored this cave in 1992. As always the results and surveys were given to the local cavers and officials, this exchange helps to organize future trips. The maps of the French team was actually shown to the Princess on her visit in 1993, and she was enthusiastic. Her suggestion to allow further cave explorations actually helped international caving expeditions greatly.