If you happen to take the southern route from Solo to the east via Pacitan - not many foreigners actually do -, a stop at Goa Tabuhan (Tabuhan Cave) is a must.
The half open cave is not so spectacular, the stalactites and stalagmites at Goa Gong are much more beautiful. The attraction is the gamelan music villagers make by hitting the stalactites. These have been selected for the exact notes as customary on the gamelan scale. As usual the rhythm is set by a drum and the orchestra accompanies one or more female singers.
I do not remember what we paid last time. Probably a couple of 100,000 rupiah for a ten minute performance.
If you feel like it, you can also enter deeper into the cave through a narrow corridor to an alcove where people sit to gain strength through meditation in the dark. See my 1974 pics in the travelogue..
Since the 1970ies Theo had been to Goa Tabuhan several times, but never yet to Goa Gong (als referred to as Goa Kalak). That stands to reason; when we finally went there in 2012 we learnt that the cave had only be opened to the public since 1995.
Goa Gong was discovered in 1924 by two villagers, Mbah Noyosemito and Mbah Joyorejo, who were searching for water in a prolonged dry season. They spent seven home-made torches before finding the pools in the bottom of the cave.
The cave takes its name from some stalactites which sound like a gong when hit. A tour in the cave takes you down through several chambers a distance of 250 m from the entrance. It is said to be the most beautiful cave in South-East Asia, which we cannot confirm as we have not seen them all. Yet the stalactites and stalagmites are impressive, some of marble, some of translucent crystal. Coloured lighting, which is evident on some pics we found on the internet, indeed enhances the attractiveness of Goa Gong. But that lighting was not functioning when we visited.
Gong Cave lies under a private-owned limestone hill. The local government had the stairs and lighting installed, but the owner, now living in Solo, still cashes part of the proceeds from visitors. One pays Rp 5,000 for admission and Rp 2,000 for parking a car. You can rent a torchlight for Rp 3,000 and there are local guides available for Rp 20,000.
We advise to take a guide, and to come in the rainy season. We came at the end of the dry season and found the pools at the bottom almost dry. Better also to avoid holidays when one has to await ones turn and the cave becomes stuffy. Our guide said that people have fainted from lack of fresh air. A couple of big fans does not seem to help much.