Laos is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful landscapes and ornate temples, but this immense cave has only been discovered by a few people. The Tham Khoun Xe cave is an immense river cave, located in a remote corner of the Khammuan province in central Laos. The cave, also known as the Xe Bang Fai River Cave, is one of the largest river caves in the world, with huge passages of up to 120 meters high and 200 meters wide.
The Xe Bang Fai River rises in the Annam Trung Sun Mountains on the border between Laos and Vietnam , and flows via the Nakhai Plateau to the Mekong River. The Nakhai Plateau consists of sandstone and massive carbonate layers where the river Tham Khoun Xe cave has been created, a 7 km long underground channel.
The cave has been known to the local population for centuries, which fished downstream from the cave’s exit. The first European exploration was carried out in 1904 and 1905 by the French explorer Paul Macey and his team. The next 90 years, no further exploration attempts have been made and for unknown reasons the area was closed to foreigners. The cave was finally reluctantly opened again in 2005-2006 for Western kayakers. Since then, French and North American teams have been active in the area.
The entrance to the cave is a 60-meter high arch at the foot of an imposing limestone amphitheater that is more than 150 meters high. The average river passage is 76 meters wide and 53 meters high, but in many places more than 100 meters wide. The largest passages that have been discovered are 200 meters wide. Many stalagmites are more than 20 meters high here, and some of the cave pearls are 32 centimeters in diameter.
If you make a tour through Laos , then this cave is definitely worth a visit. Even more caves in the area are the Tham Kong Lo cavein Laos and the Hang Son Doong cave in Vietnam, the largest on earth.