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Kaeng Krachan National Park, Thailand

It’s Thailand’s largest and possibly finest national park, offering everything from a morning of superb bird watching to strenuous, weeks-long treks deep into a wilderness where tigers, elephants and the nearly extinct Siamese crocodiles call home.
Kaeng Krachan National Park, Song Phi Nong, Kaeng Krachan, Phetchaburi, Thailand

The Overview

Some visitors to Kaeng Krachan National Park never get past the park’s vast reservoir, studded with forested islands and framed by hills rising to distant peaks. But even greater beauties lie further on as one navigates up a rough, 35-kilometer road into the sanctuary’s heart, which borders an extensive, sparsely populated area of Burma at the northern end of the Malay Peninsula.

The park’s rewards are many. Visitors can trek through some of the most pristine tracts of forest left in Thailand, which shelter 58 mammal species, including the Asian elephant, gaur, sambar, leopard, bear and tiger. Scientists have even found the Siamese crocodile, previously thought extinct in Thailand, capturing its image with a remote camera trap.

Near the park’s 1,207-meter Phanoen Thung peak lies a camp site from which early risers can enjoy one of the area’s highlights—a “sea of fog” that gathers almost every morning in the surrounding valleys. The tough trail to the park’s second highest peak, more than 6 kilometers long, requires five to six hours of hiking.

Some of the park’s 350 species of birds, which include six species of hornbill and such rare ones as the ratchet-tailed treepie, can be spotted along and off the road.  A network of trails leads into remote reaches of the 2,915-square-kilometer reserve. The going can be tough, since more than three-quarters of the park consists of slopes greater than 30 degrees. The nine-level Thorthip Waterfall is accessible along a steep, 4-kilometer trail, while visiting the Tharntip and Hinlad waterfalls, both located on a tributary of the Pherchaburi River, is best left to a three or four day loop through the park. For those on a one-day hike, Pranburi Waterfall spreads itself out across three scenic tiers and is easily accessible.

When to Go

The best time to visit is during the cooler and drier winter months, from November to February.

Getting There

The park is an easy three-hour drive southwest of Bangkok along good roads. The friendly staff at headquarters provide English-language information and guides, who are essential for longer treks.

Where to Stay

Private bungalows, tents and lodges are available around the park boundaries, including the Kaeng Krachan Country Club and Resort (Tel: +66 32 459 260, website: Price: Bungalows from US$45). Three camp sites are located within the park itself (Tel: +66 32 459 293, e-mail: Price: from US$36.)

T+L Tip

Some excellent restaurants, with local freshwater fish as their specialty, are set on the shore of the reservoir.




Published on Aug 28, 2009

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