Experiencing Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park was the highlight of my trip to Thailand. Sublime views and wildlife encounters made hiking in the land known as mountain with three hundred peaks unforgettable. From incredible caves, to nearly 2,000’ tall limestone hills jutting out of the earth, and the largest wetland in Thailand – there is no question of the natural splendor within the park.
How to get there:
There is no public transportation to the park and attractions are not close together. You must rent a car or hire a private driver. It is a long day trip from Bangkok if you do not choose to stay overnight in the area, but possible. The ride is approximately three hours each way, the stunning scenery is worth the effort. We booked a private day trip through the national parks service website and everything went smoothly.
For the entire day, the NPS driver was 4,000 baht. Expensive yes, but worry free and the park was absolutely worth it to me. You get to pick which destinations you’d like to visit and although our driver wasn’t a guide, he seemed to know the park pretty well. A 200 baht entrance fee to hike in the park is required. There are plenty of vendors at the various sites in the park to buy food and water at.
+Phraya Nakhon Cave
A 2 ½ mile round trip trail leads to the cave, but the journey is half the fun. Just as we were making our first steps on the hike a local dog decided to accompany us, and would remain faithfully with us until we made it to the end of the line. Slippery with the morning dew we set off from the beach, climbing for some great views.
Not too long until a descent into the campground (which would be a phenomenal spot to stay) where we would meet the exiting wildlife of the day. A dusky langur peered down at us, a very shy thing who quickly retreated.
This is a threatened species who is quickly loosing its habitat. The park is an premiere birding spot and soon after we were lucky to spot a bird of paradise called the greater racket-tailed drongo.
Shortly after the level campground, ascend again upon the jagged limestone and make it to the threshold of the cave. This is not your typical dark cave, but one filled with sunlight due to erosion creating a wonderful ceiling. Along with stalactites there are trees and an iconic royal pavilion tolling up to an enchanting sight.
No other people when we got there, having left Bangkok at 6AM. People started to hike up as we were descending, so I’d recommend getting an early start. It was absolutely magical to have this place all to ourselves, and trail dog. The hike is obvious and well marked, there are bathroom facilities in the campground. Afterwards consider lounging at the beach or taking a boat tour.
Down a short, but bumpy road with a silent parking lot. Once again we were the only people in the area. A man had headlamps for sale, bring your own or rent for this spelunking activity – there is no natural light. To get to the cave entrance there is a short steep hike including ropes.
From there descend into the mouth of the cave via rickety ladder.
Some neat formations sit here in the sunlight showcasing lovely colors.
Say goodbye to the last bit of light for a while, to get from one side to the other it takes about 20 minutes. The ground is jagged, there is some duck walking involved, and you will probably come across a few bats – we did. You will be in absolute darkness in this cave, be aware of all the risks.
Less than a quarter mile uphill, but this is a steep climb! This cave has natural light due to its open ceiling.
However, there are some dark areas so bringing a flashlight or headlamp is very helpful. It is an astounding cave with fine columns, draperies, idyllic stalactite and stalagmites.
A glittering cascade of calcite.
With a perfect window of solitude.
No one else to share it with, maybe it was our lucky day?
+Khao Daeng Viewpoint
A bit of a drive from the caves, though an enjoyable one!
Great sights all over.
You will want bug spray for this hike for sure. It is short, but moderately strenuous to get to the top of the 515’ limestone hill. Watch where you step, there was a cute little snail crossing that blended in quite well.
When you get to the top, stellar views in every
+Thung Sam Roi Yot Freshwater Marsh
Seeing this landscape is what inspired me to get to this park. Magnificently beautiful cliffs are the backdrop for the largest wetland in the country.
Be cautious. Much of the boardwalk is in disrepair, but it doesn’t matter you’ll get the gist of the scene walking on what works. Keep your eyes peeled for resident purple swamphen walking through the reeds.
You’ll likely hear them before you see them. This is a small area to explore. It would be nice to relax in the shade of a pavilion and watch the wildlife around you.