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 list of things to do and see. The Erawan Cave is not actually in Udon Thani Province, it is about a one hour drive away in Amphoe Na Wang, Nong Bua Lamphu Province, but the journey is well worth making because once there a scenic, lung busting climb awaits you before you reach a giant Buddha statue and the entrance to the 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 broken by several flat level walkways and resting stations, leads to the cave opening. Strong sturdy footwear, able legs and healthy lungs are recommended for the energy sapping ascent, and a bottle of water and a head for heights are good companions too.
A white three-headed elephant shrine stands at base of the long stairway climb and here is your last chance to pray for strength, a cool wind and thick cloud cover because the long hike up leaves you exposed to a blazing sun.
This is the view from the top of the first flight of steps, probably a hundred or more and a point of no return because, hereon, the view over the surrounding countryside and further ascent are both breath-taking, albeit, for very different reasons, but despite the latter, your determination to reach the Erawan Cave will push you onwards and upwards I’m sure.
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.
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 was taken looking 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, but despite that, the inside is dark in places and you have to look down as much as up to keep your footing whilst admiring the stalagmite and stalactite formations and temple artifacts . 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 did stand in awe on the viewing platform.
It goes without saying 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 novel 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 would 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 clearly signposted on highway 210 (the Udon Thani-Nong Bua Lamphu-Loei 4-lane highway) and is accessed by taking a right turn off the highway and 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.
© 2014, Martyn. All rights reserved.