The province of Ratchaburi is rich in limestone formations which in turn produced some of the most unusual caves in the province. There are quite a number of noteworthy caves to explore while you are here and there are even tours of the caves in Ratchaburi on offer by some of the local tour agents. Popular caves in Ratchaburi include the Tham Chomphon, Tham Khao Bin and Tham Ruesi Khao Ngu (which is the most famous of all in Ratchaburi). You probably would have figured by now that the word “Tham” in Thai means cave! In actual fact, visiting these caves on a tour of caves in Ratchaburi does not require spelunking experience at all. Most of them have been turned into temples at the entrance or within the caves over the centuries by the Buddhist settlers and preserving the inner beauty of the caves as places of meditation is very common. Many of these caves also hold Buddhist relics and murals which you will not find elsewhere and are worthy of a look if you have the time to spare.
For instance, Tham Chomphon which was renamed by King Rama IV has stalactites that resemble the shape of a Thai Field Marshal’s epaulette which is part of the natural formation by Mother Nature when she must be having a military or cosmic inspiration while creating these stalactites! This cave is about 30km from Ratchaburi city and a visit to this place is where you can also meditate if you like in the arboretum which is nice and shady or explore the inside of the cave which has a fairly large reclining Buddha that is good for those who are born on Tuesday to go and pay their respect. It is believed that there is one posture for every day of the week, and the reclining Buddha is for those born on Tuesdays. Even the Thai King and Queen were fascinated by the beauty of the cave when they visited in 1895, which was the reason for the renaming of the cave to Tham Chomphon from the previous Tham Mutchalin, which sounds much better now!
Another cave which has been declared the “most beautiful cave in Ratchaburi” is Tham Khao Bin. This cave is three hundred meters long and has a beautiful mixture of stalactites and stalagmites of lime and quartz origins that are not only unusual but also very colorful. It is an easy walk into the cave which is about 20 kilometers from Ratchaburi town and do remember to ask your tour agent if the Tham Khao Bin is included in your tour itinerary for caves in Ratchaburi.
A most fascinating cave to visit is the very famous Tham Ruesi Khao Ngu that is most definitely on any caves tours of Ratchaburi itinerary! There are no snakes here though the name suggests so in Thai, well maybe last time long ago but think they have all slithered away with the many tourists who flock to this place every day and hoping to catch a sight of them! This cave houses one of the oldest Buddhist relics and archaeological evidence that the Dvaravati period and teachings were practiced in Ratchaburi, as the Buddha image in the cave depicts a posture of presenting the first sermon derived from the inscriptions as well.
If you love bats and want to see lots of them, go to Khao Chongpran where the Tham Phra Non is located. The bats fly out by the thousands and block out the evening sky and you can hear them chattering away even from a distance. This is one of the natural wonders of Mother Nature in Ratchaburi! We recommend you have prior arrangements to go back to your hotel before venturing here in the evenings! Like most caves in the Ratchaburi province, there is also a Buddha image deep inside this cave which you can go and see if you do not mind the smell of bat guano!