Tham Pla National Park

Nature Reserve in Mae Hong Son

The most touted attraction of this national park is Tham Pla (or Fish Cave), a water-filled cavern where hundreds of soro brook carp thrive. A 450m path leads from the park entrance to a suspension bridge that crosses a stream and continues to the cave. The park is 16km north of Mae Hong Son and can be reached by hopping on any northbound bus.

A statue of a Hindu rishi (sage) called Nara, said to protect the holy fish from danger, stands near the cave. The fish grow up to 1m long and are found only in the provinces of Mae Hong Son, Ranong, Chiang Mai, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Kanchanaburi. They eat vegetables and insects, although the locals believe them to be vegetarian and feed them only fruit and vegetables, which can be purchased at the park entrance.

It’s all a bit anticlimactic, but the park grounds are a bucolic, shady place to hang out. Food and picnic tables are available.