Tham Luang (Nang Non Cave)

Tham Luang Nang Non Cave in Chiang Rai

Tham Luang (Nang Non cave), the incredible creation of nature and the unforgettable mission impossible to save ‘wild boar’ soccer team.

At this moment, it could say that nobody does know ‘Tham Luang Nang Non’ or literally ‘Tham Luang Nang Non Forest Park’ in Chiang Rai and the world mission impossible to rescue 13 youth football players and a staff coach of the ‘Wild Boar Academy Team’ that well-known resoundingly globally. Undoubtedly, after the significant incidence, the spotlight shines at this remarkable natural attraction and attracts the travelers from all around the world to put it in the wish-list for their trip in Chiang Rai.

Nowadays, Tham Luang Nang Non Forest Park welcomes lots of visitors that travel here to witness the greatness of this immense cave. And another magnificent creation of nature which appears once the operation to save the football team accomplished is the splendid natural pond named “the Emerald Pool” in the front of Tham Luang cave is truly extraordinary creation by nature.

Tham Luang Cave at the Glance

Tham Luang cave at the Glance

Tham Luang Nang Non Forest Park is a forest park under the protection of the National Reserved Forest Doi Nang Non nestled in Pong Pha sub-district, Mae Sai district in Chiang Rai province. The place covers the area of 500 rais, or approximately 8 was officially proclaimed to be the forest park dated October 1, 1986, by the Royal Forest Department. The forest park consists of the numbers of massive mountains line continually with the height in average is 779 meters that descending to the east. The cave is about 10.3 km in its length and considered the 4th rank of the longest cave in Thailand.

Tham Luang Nang Non Forest Park is adjoining to Doi Jong and Huay Nam Jong in the north, Doi Phu Tao and Huay Nam Kang in the south. Also, in the west, it connects to the gigantic mountain that lies from Myanmar, and it is a vast plain space for agriculture and residence in the east. The park is about 60 km away from the town of Chiang Rai and 8 km from the center town of Mae Sai district.

The operation to find and save the life of 13 members of Wild Boar Academy Football Team who lost in Tham Luang Cave

Summary of the Story:

The incidence began on June 23, 2018, when a staff coach aged 26 years old and 12 players aged between 11 – 16 years old of the local youth football team in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai ‘Wild Boar Academy”, totally 13 persons disappeared inside Tham Luang cave. Hence, the operation to search for them and rescue started with collaboration from all concerned parties both local and central segment. Initially, the officers presumed that all of them entered the cave and could not make the return trip since they got in the hollow when it’s rain heavily. So, the water overflown along the waterways into the cave, included Doi Pha Mee, the entrance of the cave, the cracks on the hill and mountain ridge.

13 members of Wild Boar Academy Football Team

Consequently, the area of the chasm and the deepest spot inside the cavern that expected were the possible areas those 13 lives pass by were brimming with the water, as well as the mouth of the cave. Thus, all of them could not come out from the cave. The best evidence to show that all 13 members of Wild Boar Academy Football Team are in the cave is the numbers of bicycle, sneakers, and their belongings were left in the tunnel. For that reason, the officers had implemented the operation to rescue them that got tremendous attention, and the whole world spotlighted at Tham Luang Nang Non Cave even derogated the global major sports event “World Cup 2018” in Russia.

Mission Completed:

And after 9 days, 5 hours, and 41 minutes of the operation at 9.43pm approximately on July 2, 2018, the governor of Chiang Rai at that time announced officially to the public that all 13 members of Wild Boar Academy were found safe and sound. However, the victims could not transfer out of the cave immediately according to their health condition and circumstance. Finally, on July 8, 2018, was the first day to bring out the victims from the cave. The rescue team which included the international professional cave divers saved the first boy of Wild Boar Academy Team out of the Tham Luang – Nang Non Cave at 5.40pm with the witness worldwide via leading global news channels.

Ecosystem and Environment of Tham Luang Nang Non Forest Park

Tham Luang Nang Non Forest Park

The forest space within the forest park is the mixed forest that is quite abundant consists of the large species of the wood, including Teakwood, Sharea obtuse, Ingyin, Dipterocarpus obtusifolius, Large Timber Tree, Burma padauk, Makha, Ta-khian, Wild Noni, and numerous of bamboo all along the stream. The residence of the forest is various species of wildlife, including wild boar, barking deer, Lesser Oriental Chevrotain, Northern Treeshrew, squirrel, mongoose, bat. Also, elephant, leopard, deer, and palm civet. About the species of birds are egret, tattletale, Blue-throated Barbet, peacock, jungle fowl, hawk, and many kinds of tailorbird – Dark-necked Tailorbird, for instance.

What Interesting to See at Tham Luang Nang Non Forest Park

Tham Luang Cave

Tham Luang Cave

Tham Luang is a massive cavern nestled in Ban Nam Jam, Pong Pha sub-district. It’s a substantial semi-arid limestone cave with 10,316 meters in its length in total. (survey by SMCC, BEC, and Unsworth during 2014 – 2016). The cave is considered as the 4th ranking of the longest cave in Thailand. The mouth of the hole is full and higher than the first hallway. Inside features the fantastic glittering stone, stalagmite, stalactite, stream, and cave. Interior of the cave is curvy lines that are easy to access in some area and also low ceiling in some places. Besides, there are the numbers of the cave evolution, for example, ripple mark, the previous level of the cave, the many various scales of the rockslide, tension crack, watermark, leach hole, cavity, wall crack. So, it could say that Tham Luang is plentiful with the interesting resource for survey and research.

Tham Luang is so-called the challenging attraction for the tourists especially the explorer ones since the cave is abundant with the ambitious path, steep hill, and lots of narrow holes with plenty enough obstacles. Moreover, there are several small caverns in the same space.

The Grand Hall inside the Tham Luang cave

The Grand Hall inside the Tham Luang cave

The first spot to welcome the visitors in the hall. According to the news of saving 13 members of Wild Boar Academy Football Team founded that from the entrance of the cavern through the trisection inside the cave are 3 halls, including the Hall at the mouth of the cave, the 2nd Hall, and the 3rd Hall.

The Hall at the entrance is ample space with 15 meters wide. The area is spacious, airy, and breathable allowing the light from outside the hole to get in. The wall is so magnificent with the glittering stone, stalagmite, stalactite, stream, cave, and caverns. And not far from the entrance of the cave is the location of the 2nd Hall and the 3rd Hall that share in the characteristic together with the fantastic stalagmite and stalactite.

The Water world

Taking a little while from the second room and the third room is a sliding way called “the Water World” (Nakorn Badarn in local). The spot is the rough way, and tunnels with mud and rock obstruct all along the path. And for the 3rd Hall in about 1 km is a trisection that on the left leads to the area called “Pattaya Beach” and Tham Pha Mee (the Bear Cave) on the right.

Lab Lae Hall (the Hidden City Hall)

Followed to the information of the cave explorer noted that the entrance of the cave is average high from the sea level at 433 meters. It’s only one main hall inside with the curvy lanes, some part is convenient to pass while some area the ceiling is very low to the floor resulting it’s laborious to walk through. The hall is approximately 759.76 meters in total.

Additionally, the Hall at the crossroad opposite to the walkway to enter the cave is 68.27 meters in its length. The prospecting was ended at the Lab Lae Hall as it’s trying to reach to the area further.

Pattaya Beach

From the trisection, keep walking to the left in about 600 meters is the Pattaya Beach Hall. This is the area that the rescue team expected all 12 boys and a staff coach of Wild Boar Academy Football Team to be there in the first place. Anyhow, the area was filled with the water once the rescue team reached over there.

More than that, the route to access Pattaya Beach is very tough, too. It is a depression similar to the fish’s belly alternated with sand dune. The narrow hole with the dirty floor that leads to the spot called “oppressing hollow” which is a narrow lane needed to dive through.

Once passing that critical part is the area of Pattaya Beach which is a sand dune with closely 2 km long. The sand is white with the water follow to the edge of the line. Although the place is plenty enough air, it’s completely dark.

Noen Nom Sao (The Lady’s Chest Hill)

Away from Pattaya Beach in about 200 – 400 meters. Here is where the spot all 13 lives of Wild Boar Academy Football Team were founded by the British Divers who are the members of the rescue team. It is a hillock that is inaccessible from the water. Yet, the spot is an improper area for the tour since it’s too dangerous to get in that deep.

Other Interesting Things at Tham Luang Cave


Interior of Tham Luang is numerous exquisite stalagmite and stalactite, the sparkling stone flakes, and the stream flows underneath the hill. There are many areas to visit and sightsee –  Thong Fa Jamlong (planetarium), Khao Wok Won (labyrinth), Tham Kraduk (Skeleton Cave), Chedi Sai (Sand Pagoda), Mongkut Pet (Diamond Crown), Lan Ploen, Elixir Pond, Hin Yoy Sabai (Breast cloth shaped stalactite), Sky-high City, for instance.

Plant varieties to be found around the area of the cave, including Orchid Tree, Walsura robusta, Aglaia edulis, and Coffea senna. Moreover, inside the cave is the home of the bat.

Tham Luang Operating Time and Period:

Generally, Tham Luang Cave opened to the visitors in drought season specifically (between December – June) and closed in the rainy season which is during July – November. In the rainy season, there is the water flows through or flood in some area inside the cave. Additionally, the tourist who would like to take the journey in Tham Luang can ask for permission from the National Park Officer by self or contact via the officer to get the tour guide by the native locals. There’s no lighting inside, so the visitors must borrow or rent the torch at the Tourist Center, in case the tourist doesn’t bring it. 

Further, according to the rescue operation of the Wild Boar Academy Football Team resulted in the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation needs to close the area of Tham Luang Nang Non Forest Park for more than 4 months to recover the natural resource of the park. And it reopens to welcome the tourist on November 15, 2018, with the first phase is the area of Tham Khun Nam Nang Non where the amazing emerald-green water flows out from the cave after the mission accomplished.

“Ja Sam” (Sergeant Sam)

Ja Sam-saman Kunan

While Tham Luang allowed to the visitor specifically just the external area. The interior of the cave was held until the figure of Hero of Tham Luang Operation “Ja Sam” (Sergeant Sam), a Thai Navy Seal who joined in the rescue team and passed away while he was on the operation, painting and other compositions created by the Thai national artist and Chiang Rai born ‘Chalermchai Kositpipat’, completed. Those of art is designed to remembrance to this mission impossible that gathered the active support worldwide. Ideally, it allows the visitors to see the so-called onsite exhibition with up to 300 people per round. And finally, Tham Luang has opened to the tourist to witness interior of the cave included all works of art, recently.

Khun Nam Nang Non Cave

Khun Nam Nang Non located in ban Jong village, Pong Pha sub-district where the place is about 2.5 km from Tham Luang cave. There is a stream that runs out from the crack of the rock underneath the limestone mountain. The water is stored within a small dike resulted in approximately 4,800 sq.m lake that is the remarkable sightseeing, learning place for nature and bird watching area. 

The Emerald Pond

The Emerald Pond

The Emerald Pond at Khun Nam Nang Non within the property of Tham Luang Nang Non Forest Park is a natural pool situated next to Tham Sai Thong (the Golden Sand Cave) and about 3 km from Tham Luang Cave. The location is the critical area to pump the water from Tham Luang during the famous incident to rescue the youth football team ‘Wild Boar Academy,” and after the event, the pool miraculous turned to be emerald-like clear water nestled in the middle of the verdant forest and pleasant air which is perfect attraction, indeed.

The reason to make the pond became the great crystal-clear natural basin resulted from the calcium carbonate that the water ran through. This mineral is active to clarify the water and change the color to emerald green. As well as the process to dredge up the pond to be deeper and get rid of leaf particles and grounds at the bottom and the lake extremely exposes to the sunlight, plus it’s not allowed the tourist to get in the pool. Therefore, it is not surprising this gorgeous pond is stunningly beautiful and attracts many people to witness on their eyes.  

So as to, the area of the Emerald Pond, Khun Nam Nang Non is restricted to the visitors to get in and play the water in the pond. Yet, it allows the tourist to leisure and chillaxes at the site with free of charge. Also, the location provides the visitors with the tourist facility such as restroom, shop, restaurant, and parking. 

Tham Phra

A small cave that the residents created a large size of Buddha image and enshrined inside the cavern. Also, the interior is marvelous and exotic stalagmite and stalactite. The climate around the area of the entrance is cold and pleasant all year round.

– Tham Mantiga Dhevi or the Naga Cave

It is a small cavern situated underneath the cliff. It believes that once the location was the site for the pilgrimage of the noble monk and he passed away at this place. At the mouth of the hole is a large size stalagmite looked similar to the spreading hood snake with approximate 2.5 meters in its height.

– Tham Lieng Pha (The Mountain Goat Cave)

The cave caused by the subsidence and created the open space surrounded with the gorge. Also, it discovered fossil of ear shell and bivalve shell dated back for over a hundred million years at the site, too.

Tourist Facility at Tham Luang Cave

Tourist Facility at Tham Luang Nang Non Forest Park

The park operates every day between 8.00am – 5.00pm without any admission fee. The National Park Office does offer neither accommodation nor camping ground for the tourist. As if the tourist would like to stay a night at the site, please bring along the camping accessory. The location provides the restroom and bathroom separated by gender for the visitors.

Traveling to Tham Luang Nang Non Cave

By Car:

From the main road of Chiang Rai – Mae Sai drives along the Paholyothin Road or Highway number 1 about 3 km. It is the pavement all along the way to reach the forest park.

By Bus:

Gets the public bus route Mae Sai – Chiang Rai from the transportation hub in Mae Sai district. The bus travels on the highway number 1 (Mae Sai – Chiang Rai), and it parks for the visitors to get off at Ariya Sound Shop. Then, gets the motorcycle service at the entrance of Ban Jong village, alley number 7 to the destination.


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