Timings : 5:00 AM to 5:00 PM via the main entrance at Sam Yot The Pala-U waterfall inside the park remains open from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM everyday However, the National Park remains closed to the public from August to October
Entry Fee : Foreigners: THB 300 Children: THB 200 Vehicles Permission: THB 30 Camping: THB 30 per night
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Kaeng Krachan National Park, Hua Hin Overview
Kaeng Krachan National Park is one of the most beautiful parks in the outskirts of Hua Hin, deemed to be a tourist town in Thailand. The park is the largest one across the exotic country and is a continuation of the Tanintharyi Nature Reserve of Myanmar that can be reached via a vehicle in just under two hours from Bangkok. The park located over 2915 square meters of lush forest area containing an enormous biodiversity and is one of the most popular tourist attractions of the nation.
The lofty mountain, spectacular waterfalls and dark caves within the Kaeng Krachan National Park make it a natural area worth visiting. The tourists enjoy trekking through the dense rainforest while the bird watchers are enthralled to spot multiple species here. However, its amazing variety of wildlife happens to be the top draw with the visitors wishing to spot the gigantic elephants, beautiful barking deer and the menacing Asiatic leopards at the park.
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Kaeng Krachan National Park Tours
There are numerous guided tours offered by private tour operators for visitors keen on experiencing the wonders of Kaeng Krachan National Park. One would have to pick and choose carefully though and insist on a being accompanied by licensed guides in order to ensure safety while traveling through the dense forest area.
2-3 day wildlife tours The trip includes a day time safari and car rides through the jungle along with hiking through safe trails for wildlife viewing. Visiting the prime attractions of the park are included within the package as is a night time walk within the popular camping sites. There are multiple operators who also offer overnight camping facilities. Cost: THB 3,500 to THB 11,000
Bird watching tours The tours are provided by expert guides who know the best locations for observing birds. Tourists who mention their preference for observing a particular species are guided to the best locations while the ones who are novice bird watchers find the experience fulfilling under the tutelage of bird watchers who are well informed about the nature of birds inhabiting the park as well as those of the migratory birds. The tour also includes the services of English speaking professionals and transportation within the Kaeng Krachan National Park. Leech protection socks are handed out to the tourists as an added precaution too. Cost: THB 2,000 to THB 7,000
Things to Do at Kaeng Krachan National Park
Spotting Wildlife: It is easy enough to spot wildlife within the premises of the park. Walking slowly is bound to uncover a treasure of flora and fauna with jackals, squirrels and monkeys evident almost everywhere. However, taking a guided tour may help the tourists to spot the predators from a safe distance as well as observe a herd of elephants from afar.
Camping: There are several campsite within the Kaeng Krachan National Park with the HQ site providing connectivity and urban amenities. However, this one is located out of the rainforest area and is not as suited for viewing animals in their natural habitat as much as Ban Krang Campsite that is the place to go to for bird and butterfly watching.
Mountain Climbing: Trekking up 1207 meters to the peak of Khao Phanoen Thung, the second highest peak within the National Park, offers an amazing view. The scenic beauty is mesmerizing but the effort can prove to be strenuous with most of the climbers stopping for a rest before reaching the top.
Attractions of Kaeng Krachan National Park
Ban Krang: This is one of the prime camping sites at the Kaeng Krachan National Park and serves as an excellent spot for watching birds of diverse species including some of the rare ones. It is definitely worth spending a night at this site for the night birds such as the White fronted Scops, a type of owl and the great tailed Night jars keep the campers awake with their shrill hoots. The amenities at the camps are pretty basic, however. With a make shift bathroom and a canteen serving a few Thai dishes, many of the campers especially the families bring their own food along or cook out in the open. The serious bird and wildlife watchers make sure to bring their own tent while the others choose to hire one from the park Headquarters. Porcupines and civet cats are seen prowling along the tents, scavenging the leftovers.
Phanoen Thung: This is yet another campsite located deep within the rainforest area. Visitors have reported spotting the clouded leopard on the way to this particular camp site. It is an elevated site that can be accessed via a dirt road from the more frequented Ban Krang camp. Apart from the basic facities at the site, Phanoen Thung also offers sleeping bags and tents for the tourists hoping to spend a night there. Many of the campers head up to the Khao Phanoen Thung Peak by trekking up the mountainous trail for 8 kilometers. A number of wild life species including bears and boars can be sighted in and around the perimeter of the camp while it is advisable to remain alert for leopards known for stealthy movements. There are three distinct viewpoints nearby with the primary one overlooking the border between Thailand and Myanmar. The other two are located besides the restaurant and the camp center respectively allowing the visitors to scan the North East & North West of the Park.
Saltlicks: There are a number of saltlicks between the entry point of Sam Yot and the Bang Krang Camp where many animals such as Gaurs and elephants can be sighted licking the ground and the rocks, trying to find salt.
Pala-U Waterfalls: The majestic waterfall of cascading water through 16 levels is a popular picnic site with numerous tourists found enjoying the scenery and enjoying their meal near the waterfalls. It is possible to limit one’s visit to the area around the waterfalls without entering the main park.
Khao Pakarang Caves: The deep, dark twin caves make the arduous trail through the forest worthwhile. The first cave consists of two chambers while the second is bigger and limited to a confined space. It is essential to be accompanied by an experienced ranger to enter the caves in order to view the horseshoe bats. Visitors are warned of snakes on the ground making it important to carry flashlights and wear adequate footwear.
Royal Residence: Many visitors chose to climb up the steep path to the hill top residence that provided shelter to King Bhumibol Adulyadej whenever he chose to visit the park. The top of the hill provides a panoramic view of the park making it the favorite spot of photographers.
Wildlife at Kaeng Krachan National Park
The Kaeng Krachan National Park is definitely the best place to look for birds and butterflies in Thailand. Home to more than 400 species of birds, this park happens to be an ornithologist’s paradise. Bird watchers do not have to look too hard to sight the beautiful birds that soar high in the air. The giant pitta, a species that has become endangered of late, is found in the park though with the wooly necked stork and the great Arbus plus the grey-headed fish eagle that has been spotted by the dam. Seven of the 15 known species of broadbills have been spotted by the birdwatchers in this Park while seven different kinds of horn bills have been observed to make their home here as well.
The animal lovers are not disappointed here either for it is possible to come across a number of small animals in their natural habitat while trekking through Kaeng Krachan National park. The crab eating mongoose, the barking deer or the golden jackal might stop one’s path occasionally while other visitors experience the thrill of their lives on spotting a herd of elephants along with leopards, bears and staid gibbons sitting on the top branches of overhanging trees. Stump-tailed macaques, Gaurs and wild dogs are frequently seen within the rainforest although the larger animals such as tigers and bantengs are found rarely.
The giant squirrels along with porcupines and baboons are sighted near the camping ground, an area they frequent due to the availability of food. However, the Kaeng Krachan National Park also harbors a huge number of snakes with an amazing variety of vipers, the Siamese cat snake and a speckled keelback being commonly seen. The rare species of red headed kraits, blue coral and the mountain racer together with three distinct species of pythons have made this park their home.
Accommodation at Kaeng Krachan National Park
There are limited options for accommodation within the park with a few private homes and hotels being rented to the visitors in the adjoining town. However, the ones hoping to camp at Kaeng Krachan National Park have several options and can choose according to their purpose. Visitors who are keen on a day trip have to stay at any of the hotels available at Kaeng Krachan town or Hua Hin and then proceed to tour the Park with the aid of an expert guide.
Kaengkrachan Boathouse Paradise Resort- Visitors usually prefer to take shelter at this unusual resort that happens to be stone’s throw away from the National Park. The entire property is shaped like a boat while facilities are of International standards. The beautiful garden provides an relaxing environment while hot spring baths are an additional treat for the guests. Cost: THB 1571 to THB 4306 for a standard room
Rim Kaeng Resort- This is most conveniently located within 5 kilometers from the headquarters of the Kaeng Krachan National Park. The guests can avail of all standard amenities including car parking, restaurants and meeting areas plus free Wi-Fi connection. Cost: THB 1073 for two
Best Time to Visit Kaeng Krachan National Park
November to March is the ideal time for visiting the National Park.
Geography & History of Kaeng Krachan National Park
Kaeng Krachan National Park was declared as the 28th National Park of Thailand after being enhanced to the stature from a reserve forest in 1981. The Park occupies the eastern slope of Tenasserim Mountain Range that includes the thick rain forest cover teeming with wildlife. The highest mountain peak is off guard for the visitors due its proximity to Myanmar while the second highest peak of Khao Phanoen Thung is frequented by the tourists for the spectacular view of the jungle below.
The Pranburi and Phetchaburi rivers both flow through the National Park with the latter being constrained by the Kaeng Krachan dam constructed in 1966. It is also entered the list of ASEAN Heritage Parks with the addition of the boundary region in-between the provinces of Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan in 1984.
Location of Kaeng Krachan National Park
How to Reach Kaeng Krachan National Park
The Kaeng Krachan National Park is located between the provinces of Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan, right on the border separating Thailand and Myanmar.
It is best to travel in a private vehicle to the park for the area is huge and involves extensive touring. A private taxi can be hired for THB 2000 from Hua Hin. However, the locals along with the backpackers may choose to take a mini bus from the Sai Tai Mai terminus of Bangkok to the Phetchaburi Bus Stop. Buses also ply between Phetchaburi and the headquarters of Kaeng Krachan National Park with tickets available for THB 100.
Getting Around Kaeng Krachan National Park
The area within the park is huge making it impossible for most tourists to view it completely on foot. Unfortunately, bicycles and motorbikes are not permitted inside with vehicles being the only recourse for many. Car owners have a easy time with SUVs and other four wheeled drives being permitted to enter. However, it would be simpler to hire the services of a skilled English speaking local driver who is familiar with the terrain. They charge between THB 1200 to THB 1600 for a day trip with a majority of the drivers willing to stay overnight at the camping sites for THB 2000.
Many of the foreign tourists prefer to hire private cars or vans courtesy their hotels or hitch a ride from the headquarters of Kaeng Krachan National Park. The best way to save hassle would be to join a tour so that reaching the strategic locations can be done with no fuss at all. Trekking is an admirable alternative albeit when accompanied by an able guide. However, it is an option for the strong and healthy adults especially ones between the ages of 18 to 40.
Tips for Visiting Kaeng Krachan National Park
1. It is best to avoid the summer months due to excessive heat 2. A permit is required to trek through the forest area of the park 3. It is advisable to hire guides or rangers during hiking 4. Going out into the jungle after sundown is forbidden 5. Wearing bright clothes and perfume is likely to keep the wildlife away 6. Carrying drinking water, mosquito repellent, leech socks, and dry snacks is recommended 7. The camping sites have poor connectivity so it is best to keep the family members and friends informed about the destination