Holidays in Thailand are firmly associated with luxurious beaches and a bustling nightlife. In addition to the obvious and eye-catching attractions, the country has many natural monuments and simply beautiful places. When planning sightseeing trips, you must visit Kanchanaburi National Park and admire the enchanting Erawan Waterfall, considered the main attraction of the reserve.
Description of Erawan National Park
Thailand is very sensitive to the preservation of wildlife. Many jungle areas and even islands have been designated National Parks, where economic activities are prohibited and tourists are only allowed to enter the territory accompanied by a guide.
The park received official status in 1975. More than 80% of the area is covered by deciduous and dipterocarp forests. The area of the reserve stretches for 500 km². There are hiking trails and from 10 a.m. buses arrive at the entrance with visitors eager to see the famous cascading waterfall of Erawan.
The park is located on the limestone hills, with a maximum altitude of 996 m above sea level. This has resulted in less rain over the park’s jungle, which is abundant and fleeting, and can come at any time of day. Tourists most often risk getting caught in a tropical downpour from July to October. The rest of the time the weather is beautiful and the surrounding landscape is delightful.
Erawan Park is inhabited by rare animals and birds. Some of them try not to be seen too much and it is considered great luck to see a deer, wild boar, elephant or large lizards while walking. But the feathered inhabitants insolently demand attention. Just wait a little while and you can take colorful pictures of tufted eagles and parrots. Sometimes the voice of the cuckoo can be heard from the thicket, and if you look closely, you can easily distinguish a snake hovering in the sky.
Monkeys are considered the most active and pesky inhabitants. They sleep sweetly in the morning, and there is an almost ringing silence all around, filled with distant bird voices and the sound of leaves. By the time the tour buses arrive, the poppies are already on guard and taking their places along the paths.
Park officials warn you not to bait them, but it’s hard to resist the smiling expression on their faces. And the cheeky primates deftly snatch bags from their hands and remove jewelry from the gaping guest. There have been cases where tourists have lost their cameras and other gadgets that were not strapped to their hand.
The Magic Falls of Erawan
It is a cascade consisting of several levels. The height of the Erawan waterfall is 831 meters, with the highest point at 996 meters above sea level and the lowest point fixed at 165 meters. To see the entire cascade, you have to walk 1700 m. Erawan Falls are formed by the major rivers Omtala and Monglai.
As they flow down the western slope of the high hill, they wash away rock particles and the water takes on a rich emerald or turquoise color, depending on the site. A jungle spreads all around, giving the impression of complete isolation from the world. Only the concrete path leading to the third cascade reminds us of civilization. Higher you have to wander on a dirt track, to the highest level lead bamboo stairs. The reward for the brave will be a stunning panoramic view from the observation deck.
The levels are counted from the bottom up, so the seventh was the top one. It also gave its name to the entire waterfall, as it is shaped like a mythical elephant with three heads.
The first 2 levels are used by locals as picnic grounds, carefully removing all traces of recreation before leaving. The feature of the next tier was a pond with fish living in it. They like to bite off tourists’ feet micro particles of keratinized skin. This feature is used in Thai beauty salons, offering visitors such an unusual peeling.
You can swim in the pond, then take a shower on a specially equipped area to rest a bit and go further.
Cascades 4 to 6 are rarely visited, they are located in dense thickets, often branching into side streams. It is difficult to climb to the very top. The stairs are rickety, and the ascent itself is almost steep.
Rules of Attendance
Since Erawan National Park is considered a protected area, there is a fee of 200 baht for tourists to enter. Next, to avoid misunderstandings, it is worth considering:
- It is forbidden to bring pets with you, they are left in special enclosures at the entrance;
- above 2 tiers with you take only drinking water, at the rate of 1 bottle per person, the rest of the products will have to leave;
- You will need comfortable shoes with non-slip soles, as part of the trail goes over tree roots protruding from the ground and bridges across streams;
- If you want to swim, you have to carry the necessary accessories, there are no tents along the way.
Erawan Waterfall in Kanchanaburi is visited by a large number of tourists every day. They come as part of the tour and it gets noisy and crowded on the paths leading to the lower tiers after 10 a.m. If you want to enjoy the spectacle in silence and not get into the clutches of the monkeys, constantly accompanying tourist groups and begging for treats, it is worth getting up early and come on a tour alone.
The fauna of Erawan National Park
Careful observance of cleanliness and the principle of non-interference with nature has led to the fact that the territory has bred animals and birds that are considered rare and endangered. The park’s regular jungle inhabitants also live freely.
Of the primate class, the Rhesus and Crab-eating macaques have taken root in the park. They do not differ much in appearance, character and habits are also similar. They will gladly take away what lies bad. What is well hidden, they will try to steal. The monkeys eat scraps left in the trash cans after picnics on the lower tier.
The rivers that feed the Erawan waterfall are home to the unique Garra rufa fish. They belong to the family of carp, look unassuming and almost indistinguishable from the bottom. Locals call it “doctor fish” and use it as a natural peel. The fish is capable of eating away dead bits of skin from the feet and psoriatic plaques. In some resorts, this use of fish has become traditional and is part of the list of services of many spas. During the procedure, emotional tension is released, the legs are muscularly relaxed, which creates a powerful anti-stress effect.
While bathing in the bodies of water formed by the Erawan waterfall in Thailand, you can get this treatment for free.
Any wounds and abrasions should be covered with plaster before bathing.
They do not show themselves to people, preferring secluded places. The king cobra is considered dangerous, but it never attacks first, respecting personal space. When you meet her, all you have to do is stop and wait. She will assume a threatening pose, and then leisurely retreat into the nearest thicket. Another thing is if she protects the clutch or is stepped on her tail.
But it is almost impossible to meet any snake on the hiking trail; the attendants carefully review the walking routes to avoid such encounters.
Entertainment in Erawan National Park
You can safely go on a trip all day, the park offers a variety of entertainment programs. Attractions can’t be found here, but there are objects that you just can’t see in normal life.
There are concrete and dirt routes. The easiest leads from the entrance and up to the 2nd level of the waterfall. Along the way there are squirrel nests, huge spider nets, and varan burrows. They are off the central trail, so if you don’t want to get a closer look at the exotics, you just don’t need to go off the trail.
The next trail is between Tiers 3 and 4. They go there without food supplies. The trail takes about an hour, winds between tree trunks and roots, reminiscent of a quest, but there are few obstacles along the way. It leads to a tropical jungle.
The next route is even higher and requires some physical preparation, as it rises sharply uphill.
Most of the trails are not marked on hiking maps. The most famous of these is considered to be Khao Hin Lan Pee, leading past the 5th level of the waterfall. The trip will be long but fascinating, the time should be oriented at 3-3.5 hours.
Caves and Grottos
They are numerous and mysterious. It is interesting to visit each of them, but for such a trip one day is clearly not enough. The most famous and popular among tourists are:
- Ta Duang, located near the village at an altitude of 800 meters and is a museum in a natural karst cavity, which houses household items, tools made of stone, and the walls are decorated with cave paintings;
- Wang Badan is like a fairy-tale grotto, into which a narrow ray of sunlight penetrates, picking out of the darkness sparkling stones resembling mythical creatures;
- Ra requires strong nerves from visitors, it became famous for the discovery in its depths of stone sarcophagi, resembling boats, which are decorated with detailed images of human heads;
- Phra Tat is called the garden of stones and is located at an altitude of 730 meters.
Excursion to the waterfall
You don’t have to go to the waterfall and spend all day doing it. The sightseeing tour offers a whole cascade of activities over 2 days, including:
- visits to unusual museums;
- walks in protected areas;
- rafting on the River Kwai;
- an overnight stay in a floating hotel;
- A tour of protected corners full of beauty and charm.
The cost of the trip is 2 thousand baht. It takes three hours to see the Erawan Falls. It is unlikely to get to the 7th tier, but tourists have time to take the most popular routes and swim in the lake.
Interesting facts about Erawan National Park
- The upper levels of the waterfall are accessible only in the morning, later cleaning of the area begins and visitors are asked to go lower.
- To avoid looting by macaques, all equipment is tied up or placed in covers.
- Moving around the area is possible on foot and on a rented bicycle.
- Above the second level it is forbidden to bring food, if you buy water money at the exit will be returned in exchange for an empty container, which guarantees the cleanliness of the territory.
- The early morning walk will be more comfortable due to the coolness and absence of ubiquitous monkeys.
- The most comfortable bathing area is on level 4, comfortable rest is provided on tier 1 and 2, the best views are from the observation deck at the top of the waterfall.
- Fish peeling in a level 3 pond gives an unforgettable experience, the fish are quite large, but other than tickling no particular harm.
- In the tourist center there is a rental of tents and sleeping bags.
- A special celebration begins on April 13, with 3 days of water fights on all levels of the waterfall. The spectacle is very interesting, but the dry state of the clothes of the audience is not guaranteed. It is better to rent waterproof cases for your equipment.
- The best time of year to visit the park is from November to January, when the weather is cool and clear during the day.
Video overview of Erawan Falls
How do I get to Erawan Falls?
The easiest way to visit the main attraction of Kanchanaburi province is as part of a tour. The advantages of such a trip is the organization of the delivery, the presence of a guide, verified to the minute program. The disadvantages are the strict time limit, the inability to deviate from the route, the multiplicity of groups.
You can get on your own by public transport. It takes about 7 hours to get from Pattaya to Kanchanaburi by bus. They go twice a day, the fare is 400 baht. Advance purchase of tickets is possible.
The connecting road includes changing buses in Bangkok and Kanchanaburi. It is more convenient to plan a one-night trip. There are plenty of hotels near the National Park.
You can spend the night in a comfortable bungalow, the cost for 2 people will be 750-800 baht, depending on the season and the number of visitors. A tent with sleeping gear costs 200 baht. The most economical option would be camping with your own tent, where you have to pay only 30 baht.
You will have to take food with you, having a picnic on specially equipped for this purpose or go for lunch in a cafe.
It is forbidden to take food outside the 1-2 levels.
The park opens at 8 a.m. and is officially open until 4:30 p.m., but after 3 p.m. employees ask visitors to go down to the lower levels. Erawan Falls on the tourist map is marked among other attractions, and is also given the most convenient route for independent travel by rented bike or car. There are signs all along the roads with inscriptions in several languages, so it is problematic to get lost.
It is recommended to travel around the territory with a guide or take a map of the park, which shows the most popular routes and recreation points.
The national park leaves an amazing impression of the natural beauty and picturesque waterfall, shrouded in legends and a halo of colorful splashes.