Every evening in a small town in Ratchaburi Province, an amazing spectacle unfolds. Just as the sun is setting, millions of bats begin streaming out of a single cave in some limestone rocks. The bats form a thin ribbon that streaks across the sky and it twists and turns, dancing as the bats continue to pour out. It’s a pretty incredible spectacle and one that can be seen in a few places around Thailand. As far as we know, the Ratchaburi bat cave is the nearest location to Bangkok where you can see it happen. Check out the short clip below to get an idea of how it looks, then read on for everything you need to know to visit the Ratchaburi bat temple.
Getting to the bat cave
The cave is located in the rocks behind a temple called Wat Khao Chong Pran (วัดเขาช่องพราน) 30 minutes north of Ratchaburi town. You will need your own transportation to get there or to hire a driver to take you. You can find the exact location at this GPS point, just turn into the temple and park in the large parking lot on your right.
When to visit the Ratchaburi bat cave
locals told us that this spectacle happens every evening, every day of the year. During the rainy season, from May through October you have a higher chance of getting rained out, but if you’re in Ratchaburi at this time, it’s probably still worth going unless a large storm is passing through and the rain isn’t letting up. We highly recommend pairing this visit with a stop at the nearby Khao Ngu Stone Park. Visit the stone park around 4 pm or just after, then come to see the bats by 5:30. The bats exit the cave between 5:30 and 6 pm every day, and the flight lasts around 45 minutes, although it is most impressive in the first 15 to 20 minutes.
Our top tips for seeing the bats
This spectacle of the flying bats occurs in a few other places around Thailand. We first saw the flying bats in Phitsanulok Province, and it blew our minds. To be totally honest, it was much better to see there than in Ratchaburi. Ratchaburi actually has more bats and the spectacle lasts longer, but the two areas can’t compare. Phitsanulok has towering limestone cliffs that lead into mountains, while here the cave entrance is in the side of what is basically a rocky hill. The Phitsanulok bats are in a small scenic town with a great vibe, while the bats at Wat Khao Chong Phran are beside a busy road, and the temple is full of slightly ridiculous photo props and as much bat-related kitsch as you’ve seen in your life.
With that said, it still is pretty cool to see the bats in Ratchaburi, and the more urban feel of the busy roadway beside you actually gives an interesting contrast to the natural spectacle in the sky. When we visited, the bats began their flight by exiting the cave and turning hard left. This had them silhouetted against the rocks and trees on the hill which makes them pretty hard to see. To appreciate the spectacle, you really need to see them silhouetted against the sky. They flew straight on out that way, over the road and off into the distance, and never left that course the whole time we were there. Most of the other people there stayed in the temple compound and never really got to see the best part.
Watching from the road
I exited the temple and went out onto the road. The bats were flying directly overhead and so you could see them in silhouette. Some cars and trucks were stopping to check it out as well, as it’s quite a scene. From out on the road you can see the bats against the blue evening sky, or you can walk to the other side of their flight path and see them against the setting sun as in the video clip with the monkeys above. If you are there and the bats go this way, just walk out onto the road and observe from there. It’s really cool.
Other things to see at Wat Khao Chong Phran
Besides the Ratchaburi bat cave at the temple, there is also a pagoda up on top of the hill and a troop of macaque monkeys that live up there. While at the temple, facing the main hall, if you go to the left of it and back you’ll find the stairs that lead up to the top. If you climb those you’ll find a somewhat pretty trail leading up, and at dusk, plenty of monkeys up there. As with anywhere in Thailand, these monkeys might expect food and can get aggressive. We recommend you don’t’ bring food, water bottles, or anything else in your hands that they might think is edible.
You could watch the bats from up here as well, but unless they fly high you won’t see them silhouetted against the sky. You can still see them, but it’s much less impressive and basically impossible to capture in a photo.