exploring tham khoun xe
Exploring Tham Khoun Xe

Tham Khoun Xe – World’s Largest River Cave in Laos

Tham Khoun Xe is an intriguing idea for exploration activities as its large caves, unique structure, underground river and old forest. Now, let’s go with All Know-How exploring Tham Khoun Xe – a world’s largest river cave in Laos.

Geological location of Tham Khoun Xe

Tham Khoun Xe 1

Tham Khoun Xe is known as Xe Bang Fai, the largest river cave that located far from Khammouane Province in the central of Laos. The cave rises from Annam Trung Sun mountain at Vietnam-Laos border, crosses Nakhai highland which is formed by rock, sand, and carbon layers then dissolved by Mekong river and created Tham Khoun Xe with the canal length about 7 km as nowadays.

The Exploration of Tham Khoun Xe

It was discovered by French explorer Paul Macey in 1905 and explored deeply again in 1995. According to the report of the expedition, Tham Khoun Xe cave is a part of Xe Bang Fai river, one of the largest caves in the world with some giant caves over 120m in height, 200m in width and the impressive geological structures. Before being detected, the river cave is used for fishing on downstream and cave port and raising and harvesting bird nest on stone wall areas by local people.; however, after 90 years, the cave was closed for an unknown reason since there was no effort to explore. In 2005-2006, it was finally opened again for tourists to come and row kayak boat and explore the cave. From then on, many French and Southern American explorers have done researches about this area. Up to 2008, Tham Khoun Xe re-examined by a group of researchers from National Geographic, since then, it has become famous all over the world.

Tham Khoun Xe – A majestic cave

The way to the cave has a dome with 60m high and sits on a large area like an arc-stage over 150m in height. Some segments of the river inside the cave are about 76 meters wide and 53 meters high but some areas are over 100 meters wide. The longest segment of the river is measured about 200 meters. The way through the cave is about 4-12 meters in depth. There are stalagmites and rosin about 20 meters in height, and a little pearl found in the cave with a diameter of 32cm. Inside Tham Khoun Xe, there is a well-developed green forest right at the mouth of the cave, the green color contrasts with the white and orange color of terraced fields creating the unique and delicate color palettes on the limestone walls.

Mysterious beauty of Tham Khoun Xe

You may not find Tham Khoun Xe cave is mysterious and marvelous right at the first sight but local people believe that many sacred souls live in the river and protect them. There is a story that tells about a peasant who left his broken musical instruments at the mouth of the cave and in the next day, these instruments were repaired and completely used. It is said that sacred souls would protect people here if they, unfortunately, felt from the cliff so that is the reason nobody died here; however, this belief makes local people ignore the safety as well as not warm the tourists to wear helmets when rowing inside the cave; instead, local people organize annual worships for “the guardian of the soul” at the mouth of the cave to pray the safety for them and tourists.

Not only admiring the beauty of the cave, exploring some wild animals at Hin Nam Nor national conservative area is also a wonderful experience; besides, tourists can wander at the dried area or row kayak to explore the cave with the help of a local guide, your adventure will be safer and more interesting.

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