Phu Langka National Park.
Navi: Wat Tham Chaiamongkol, Phu Langka.
All year daily 7-14.
Reservations possible 15 days in advance.
|Guided tours:||self guided|
|Address:||Tham Nakha, Pho Mak Khaeng, Bueng Khong Long District, Bueng Kan 38220, Tel: +66-.|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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ถ้ำนาคา (Tham Nakha) was named after mythical shape shifters, snakes which are able to become humans. In Thai language Naka or Nakha means giant snake. In western literature the spelling Naga is more common. The reddish sandstone rocks of the area have an internal structure which creates quite unique patterns resembling the scales of a snake. This is quite common in the whole area. But here is a series of canyons or gorges in the sandstone which have a massive bulge with such scales. The result is quite unique: it looks like an enormous petrified snake which protrudes from the rock. So it was quite obvious to name the place after the Naga.
The parking lot is at the foot of the rock outcrop in the plains. From here you have to walk up to top of the hill in the hot and humid tropical climate. It's an ascent of 300 m and some 1,800 steps, first stone steps up the slope, then a series of iron ladders. The first staircase has a Naga on each side, later there are only iron railings. The trails are quite narrow, and you might want to wait if there is oncoming traffic on one of the iron staircases. Finally, you reach a plateau on top of the sandstone massive.
The round trail first goes to the stupas on the top of the hill, and the huge white Buddha statue. Then a trail leads to the heartbreak rock, which protrudes from the rim and looks more fragile than it is (hopefully). It's popular to make a picture from the side, so you can see that the slab is quite thin. From here a staircase goes down to a ledge along cliff and a small cave with numerous buddha statues. Here the good trails end, and there is a rather rough trail through the forest and a steep descent along a rope with knots.
A grotto or overhanging cliff with a huge sandstone boulder follows. It is called the Head of the Naga because it has the form of a snake head and scales. Then a series of narrow canyons follows, and at many points the walls of the canyons also have the scales pattern. This is obviously the body of the Naga. At the end a staircase goes up to the plateau on top of the hill. Many locals walk through this maze with folded hands in prayer, it seems that the cave is a religious site, almost as important as the temples.
And finally you have to descend the 300 m and 1,800 steps to the parking lot. The whole trip is definitely a half day trip, which is the reason why the site closes at 2 in the afternoon. We suggest bringing enough water and a hat, probably sun protection.
The site is one of the most popular Buddhist temples and tourist sites in the province. On weekends and holidays it may be quite crowded. If possible you should visit early in the morning or make a reservation with the QueQ application of the National Park Service. It's possible to make a reservation two weeks in advance and 350 tickets daily are sold over the internet. You have to select Phu Langka National Park, the booking is free. The place is actually better known by the name of the temple, which is วัดถ้ำชัยมงคล ภูลังกา (Wat Tham Chaimongkol, Phu Langka).