The Erawan Cave in Nong Bua Lamphu
Anyone looking for places of interest to visit in and around the city of Udon Thani should pencil the Erawan Cave in Nong Bua Lamphu on to their must-do list. The Erawan Cave is not in Udon Thani Province; it is about a one hour drive away in Amphoe Na Wang, Nong Bua Lamphu Province. The journey there is worthwhile because despite a scenic, lung-busting climb, once at the summit, there is a giant Buddha statue and an entrance to a temple cave.
Erawan Cave, Amphoe Na Wang, Nong Bua Lamphu Province
If you study the photograph above, just right of centre, you can make out the Erawan Cave and the Golden Buddha statue sat at its entrance. The cave sits way up a limestone mountain and a winding pathway of 611 concrete steps. Thankfully, the climb is broken by several flat level walkways and resting stations before reaching the cave entrance. I’d recommend robust and sturdy footwear, able legs and healthy lungs for the energy-sapping ascent. A bottle of water and a head for heights are good companions too.
A white three-headed elephant shrine stands at the base of the long stairway climb and here is your last chance to pray for strength, a chill wind and thick cloud cover. The ascent leaves you exposed to a blazing sun.
This photo peers down from the top of the first flight of steps, probably a hundred steps or more. And for most people, the point of no return. Hereon, there is a breathtaking view of the surrounding countryside. I’m sure, your determination to reach the Erawan Cave will push you onwards and upwards from here.
These sala style rest stations are a welcome sight as you countdown the 611 steps to the temple cave opening.
The rest stations give you a chance to stabilize your heartbeat and breathing, drink some fluid, and take in the beautiful landscape whistling at you.
At the Summit – The Golden Buddha
The cave’s opening is said to resemble an elephant’s forehead and by now mine was covered in a sheen of sweat despite the mid-morning winter chill. I’d never been so glad to see a Buddha statue as I was this one.
This picture looks down from the cave’s opening, and the yawning cavern hollows further down to the left of the central white placard. Despite its unconventional appearance, the Erawan Cave is a temple site, and visitors should balance appreciation and awe evenly. But whatever you do, leave your shoes on (everyone does, it’s a must) because the cave floor is jagged and weathered at best.
The temple site has artificial lighting and natural light from holes in the cave ceiling. Still, despite that, the inside is dark in places. At times, you have to look down as much as up to keep your footing while admiring the stalagmite and stalactite formations and temple artefacts. Unfortunately for me the cave’s dim light put paid to most of my photographs.
At the deepest point of the temple cave, there is a large raised opening on its outer wall, and a wooden platform on the outside has a view that could melt a deep-frozen chocolate Malteser. Regrettably, for me, my left knee had creaked and finally croaked long before, and I gave the short climb to the beautiful view of Nong Bua Lamphu Province a miss. Luckily, on a previous visit to the Erawan Cave, I had stood in awe on the viewing platform.
Back to Ground Zero
The descent from the Erawan Cave is a lot quicker than the climb, and my rubbery legs were glad to stand back on ground zero. Once there, this quirky Buddhist monk donation carousel caught my eye.
There are plenty of snack stalls and refreshments on sale at typical Thai prices, and there’s ample free car parking space as well. A trip to the Erawan Cave from Udon Thani is easily negotiated in one day with plenty of time in-between to view the temple cave. An early morning journey will allow you to return around midday to Udon Thani if need be.
How to get to the Erawan Cave, Nong Bua Lamphu, from Udon Thani
The Erawan Cave site is about 65 kilometres from Udon Thani city and is signposted on highway 210 (the Udon Thani-Nong Bua Lamphu-Loei 4-lane highway) and accessed by taking a right turn off the road. The Erawan Cave parking lot is located about three kilometres from the highway in Na Wang District. If you have enjoyed this post then why not get Beyond The Mango Juice delivered free to your desktop or by email via my RSS feed…… You can also sign up for my Beyond The Mango Juice page on Facebook by clicking on the link here.