THAM PHACHAN CAVE (CAVE OF THE SANDALWOOD BUDDHA)
Tham Phachan cave is one of the most impressive caves in the area. It is open at two ends, cutting about 600m through a limestone mountain and has a 60 x 100m entrance in the shape of a giant dome. A stream flows through this tunnel, and in some spots, logs and forest debris have washed downstream into the cave. A major fracture in the roof of the cave can be seen and is likely to be the reason for the development of its large cathedral-like structure. As you enter the western entrance, to the left is a ledge 15m above the cave floor where a small monastery with several Buddhist images can be seen. One of the images is made from sandalwood (Mai Chan), hence giving the cave its name. About half-way through the cave, in a side passage on the right hand side (south) are long-eared bats roosting in crevices (please do not disturb them). The cave, which used to be inhabited by monks, is now used for meditation and is visited during the New Year Festival (mid-April) by hundreds of local people who come to sprinkle water on the head of the sandalwood Buddha image and get soaked in the cave's stream. During the wet season the waters in the cave can rise about 3m and it may be inaccessible by foot.
How to get there: From Thakhaek, the cave is reached after driving 1.5 hours on Route 12. It is not recommended that you try to find this cave yourself.