Peaceful Soppong

Pang Ma Pha (Soppong) Travel Blog

 › entry 6 of 34 › view all entries
Our Balcony overlooking the river from the Sappong River Inn


After breakfast we decided to take a minivan to Soppong, figuring that it was a bit more Thai and remote than Pai. Another hour of windy, mountainous roads and we arrived in the sleepy little village of Soppong. It's a beautiful, lush, un-touristed spot hidden away in the mountains without a single souvenir shop. This was quite a nice break from crowded and noisy Chiang Mai and Bangkok.

Both Opus at Baan Orapin and www. recommended the Soppong River Inn guesthouse, so we walked through town and got a cute bungalow overlooking (actually over hanging) the river complete with a nice balcony and an open air bathroom (it is kind of nice to shower in the rain).

The woman who runs the bungalows told us that it was about two kilometers walk to the Coffin Caves which sounded like a good hike, so we donned our trekking shoes (luckily) and headed out. She had warned us that the sign was small and easy to miss but we found it and I eventually convinced Cindy that there was indeed a path here (admittedly a bit overgrown, hidden, muddy and unused looking).

On the walk to the base of the Coffin Caves, I had been trying to scuff up my trekking shoes since they looked way to new and clean and a bit dorky. They had been broken in nicely on our Machu Picchu trek, but I had a minor problem with them, and took them back to REI for repair.

Wooden Coffin up the muddy slope in the Coffin Caves
Well it ends up that I could either pay twenty dollars and wait two weeks to have them repaired (as a ''courtesy service"), or get a brand new pair on the spot (duh! Brilliant corporate policy.) Anyway, no need to scuff them up on the way since, by the time we were down from the caves, we were completely caked in mud (and sweat).

After about twenty minutes of scrambling up through the muddy jungle (I was very proud of Cindy who hardly complained at all), we made it to the first cave with the remains of a wooden coffin hewn from a single tree. The coffins are from the 1700's but apparently no one is sure of their origin or meaning. I scrambled around a bit and convinced Cindy to climb up one more level where there were some large caverns with more coffins. Very cool but fairly eerie since we were the only people there.

We slid and scrambled our way back down through the jungle and arrived at the bungalow just as it started pouring (kind of a daily event this time of year). After a shower in the rain, a relaxing beer (OK two beers) and a crash of my IPAQ causing me to have to rewrite this entire day (F**k you Mr.

On the raft inside Tham Lod Cave
Gates!), we are heading out to dinner.

Back from dinner and had a great time. We walked to a guesthouse called Little Eden, the nicest place in Soppong, and met the owner Pen who is a really friendly and helpful woman. We wanted to find out about caving and trekking opportunities and ended up having Shan food (local hill tribe) for dinner. We met a Canadian couple and their teenage son who were taking a year off and traveling.

Coincidentally, I had seen them earlier today walking on the road to Soppong (they are blond and very tall, neither normal in Thailand). Neither we nor the minivan driver realized that they were trying to flag us down for a ride. Their guest house had told them to not stick their thumb out, rather to flop their hands up and down - guess our driver didn't understand either since he blasted by them without stopping. Our bad luck since they ended up renting the only two scooters in town! We did have a nice time talking with them.

Pretty Flowers at Soppong River Inn

Oh well, no scooters to rent but we think we will stay one more day in peaceful Soppong and visit the Lod Cave and a local Karen hill tribe village.


After breakfast, we walked to the village market where we were able to hire two motorcycle taxis for a beautiful ride about ten miles through brilliant green rice paddies and small villages to the Lod Cave. Cindy neglected to ride side saddle like the locals...

When we went to pay the two guys, they said we could pay on the way home and eventually we agreed on a 3:00 p.

Sunset in Soppong
m. pickup. Very nice and trustworthy of them but, then again, we are the only foreigners in the village so I doubt they would have trouble finding us.

We paid the 100 Baht entrance fee for our "guide", a smiling older Thai woman whose only words of English seemed to be elephant, monkey, popcorn and UFO used to describe the cool stalactites and stalagmites inside the cave.  Actually, It took a while to figure out UFO - I kept thinking she was saying Unicorn, but the formation growing out of the cave wall did somewhat resemble a UFO. The little raft ride through the cave was fun (other than the noise and smell of bat guano) and the hike back to the entrance was nice.

After the cave, we wanted to hike to a local Karen Hill Tribe village called Ban Muang Phaem. It was supposed to be about eight kilometers away. I guess we should have listened to the Canadian kid last night when he said "it was straight up and then straight down!" which indeed it was.

Little Girl in Ban Muang Phaem Village (Hmong)
The "road", if you could call it that, partially paved and mostly dirt was insanely steep, both going up and coming down. Two hard, sweaty hours later, we arrived in Ban Muang Phaem.

Our reception was nothing short of spectacular.  Someone must have rung the special "tourist" bell and within five minutes, a dozen different women had crowded around us with scarves, shawls, sarongs and various other woven stuff, eager to sell their wares. While Cindy looked at all the weavings and bargained, I shot pictures of the old women and kids. Cindy blew up some colorful balloons for the kids which they had a blast with. There were no men to be seen and we figured they were out in the fields working (or perhaps drinking...)

We actually ended up seeing one of the motorcycle taxi drivers in the village and hoped to flag him down for a ride back to avoid the long hike but to no avail.

Kids in Ban Muang Phaem Village (Hmong)
Two more hot, sweaty, achy knee hours later and we were back at Thom Lod cave where our motorcycle taxis waited. The ride back was really enjoyable with incredible scenery and our celebration beers at the Soppong River Inn were delicious. 

New!  this should launch in a separate window but if it doesn't hit back after viewing the video

Geckos in Soppong Thailand

We ended up having dinner at the Seven Elephants Café, the little restaurant in our guesthouse which was really good. Then we found out that somehow we missed the elephants at Ban Muang Phaem - oh well, those things smell and aren't that comfy anyway.

Tomorrow we are heading to Mae Hong Son.

vosking says:
Hahahahahaha, I just finished my review over the River Inn, and about 6 minutes later I reading your story!! ;D Getting home sick, don't you?
Posted on: Feb 02, 2008
lrecht says:
Thanks Frank - just uploading some unedited photos so far since I can't edit them here and the connections are slow. Hope you are doing well...
Posted on: Sep 13, 2006
faaphoto says:
Larry and Cindy---Looks like quite an adventure! Keep the updates coming...
Posted on: Sep 11, 2006
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Our Balcony overlooking the river …
Our Balcony overlooking the river…
Cindy climbing up through the mud …
Cindy climbing up through the mud…
Wooden Coffin up the muddy slope i…
Wooden Coffin up the muddy slope …
On the raft inside Tham Lod Cave
On the raft inside Tham Lod Cave
Pretty Flowers at Soppong River Inn
Pretty Flowers at Soppong River Inn
Sunset in Soppong
Sunset in Soppong
Little Girl in Ban Muang Phaem Vil…
Little Girl in Ban Muang Phaem Vi…
Kids in Ban Muang Phaem Village (H…
Kids in Ban Muang Phaem Village (…
Weaving Woman in Ban Muang Phaem V…
Weaving Woman in Ban Muang Phaem …
Cindy and friend at the Soppong Bu…
Cindy and friend at the Soppong B…
Weaving in Ban Muang Phaem village
Weaving in Ban Muang Phaem village
Old Man at Thom Lod Cave
Old Man at Thom Lod Cave
Pang Ma Pha (Soppong)
photo by: lrecht