Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Barking up a tree

Ahh, another spelling mischief. Sap Chomphu, Sub Chom Phu, Subchom Poo, pronounciation same-same, just too difficult to spell ...

Anyway, another Phetchabun province waterfall. Not located in a national park, administratively it is seen as an arboretum with waterfall. Or a National Forest Reserve.
Barely 30 ha in size.

Getting here is not too difficult, located 8 km south of Nong Phai on highway 21, the access road is from the village market, due west. Just slow down in the village and take the only road west, once on this road there are signs virtually every km, for the 8-9 km it takes to get here.

The road gradually rises as it dissects mango orchards. Late April, the farmers are up early and the road is used as collection unit for the plastic containers full of mangoes, waiting for transport to Bangkok undoubtedly.
Despite all the signs along the way, the last one directing you to take a right before the steep incline is non-existent. On this cross road though is a wooden sign which describes this as Sap Chom Phu Arboretum.

Past a few houses one enters along a now empty pond. Behind this are lined a serious amount of stalls and an expansive parking area.
No entrance fee is required and one wanders across the bridge. Not many foreigners get this far. This I conclude as the number 1 tell-tale sign, a pack of dogs is barking at the exotic creature (must be a ghost), is all too clear. From beyond the bridge there are a number of trails heading up and I just take one.

Within 2 minutes I am walking alongside a small stream (Sai Ngam Ngam) under huge trees, the trees alone are worth a visit. Some larger examples have been singled out for the yellow ribbon worship.

However the stream itself is a trickle and despite walking as far as possible, the waterfall is only a number of short steps.
Possibly these are part of the three waterfalls mentioned as per Bangkok Post.

Waiting for the rain(s)

It's evident that later on, in the rainy season, there are much bigger falls to be experienced, see the picture of a full size poster at the entrance of the falls (below); despite an overnite downpour there's little to be seen, let alone experienced.

My photo's posted here are quite similar to those of the Bangkok Post referenced above, in the absence of the big waterfall.

What it should look like

In all it seems a little depressing as extensive amounts of trash take the shine off the naturalness of the surroundings. Better management might be an idea ...

More photo's from this provincial

Monday, May 9, 2011


Saraburi is to most who pass through this province, synonymous with traffic, cement factories and huge Bhuddha's; certainly not with nature.

But surprise, surprise, Saraburi province, despite it's size, contains no less than 2 national parks,
Namtok Chet Sao Noi and Phra Phutthachai (sometimes known as Khao Sam Lan). Furthermore there are quite a few waterfalls, some more well known than others. Muak Lek waterfall (tiny), Heo Noi, Sap Heo, Suan Maduea, Sap Pa Wan, Krok Fa Phanang and Khao Khaep.

Dried up
As Khao Sam Lan National Park is listed as having a signature waterfall (Sam Lan) as well as some others (Pho Hin Dat, Ton Rak Sai, Krok I-woe, Nang Chon, Phaeng Ma and Roi Kueak Ma) and it's just outside town towards Bangkok (take road 3042, followed by 3046), it was the destination of the late April day.

Fancy coming up to the entrance and being told that the waterfall was dry. They basically implied that the 200 THB (~$US 6) special entrance fee for foreigners was not worth the sights located further up the road.
Many locals continued but it was said that they were going for the food stalls and to relax, as they don't seem to have to pay an entrance fee.

Oh well better this way than the other way around. Expect much more water later on in the year.

[Update: The Bangkok Post (1 September 2011) places an article on the Sam Lan NP suggesting it is better to negotiate the park by cycle:
'Being the Kingdom’s smallest national park, Namtok Sam Lan NP of Sara Buri province covers an area of only 44.5 square kilometres. It is named after a waterfall that is known to be dry and lifeless most of the year, except on days that it rains real, real hard'.
Hmm ...

Next stop
I took a long and hard look at the map and decided that Chet Khot (Chetkhot, Jedkot?) waterfall would be do-able, not too far away. I double checked at the national park entrance and they said, yes, expect more water there. Fine.

So eventually back on route 2, in the plethora of traffic. Past cement factories heading to the giant Bhuddha. Ideally you want to turn off in Thap Kwang village, just before the highway starts to rise into the hills. But hey, this is an 8 lane highway, don't do the U-turn, just travel up beyond the next cement factory and there there is a fine overhead U-turn, safety wise better and loads more comfortable than sweating it out while waiting for a break in traffic.

Back in Thap Kwang head left and ask around. Eventually you'll end up on the right road which goes up into the hills for another 10 km or so. Winding itself around and over the hills it passes some smaller villages with small plantations. Signage is clear from here.

Surprisingly despite it's proximity to Bangkok there's little touristic development. Eventually the road ends at a car park, a couple of other cars and about 20 or so motorcycles, no entrance fee is required.

There are a couple of buildings around the car park, overlooking a series a small rapids.

On the other side of the stream, a track disappears into the forest. It's a 1,5 km track which traverses the stream about halfway. At the end is brilliant pool with about a 10m high waterfall.

Young lads (owners of the motorcycles) are jumping off the cliff and generally seeking some kind of attention. A beautiful spot, but even on a Tuesday too spoilt by my fellow humans.

I walk up the side of the cliff, our youngsters expecting me to jump as well, but no (thank you), I just continue up the stream. There's no path but wading through the stream and scrambling over the rocks, brings more sought-after solitude, another beautiful spot.

I hope it stays like this, my map also has a dotted red line crossing closeby the falls, the motorway no. 6 project. Yikes!

There is surprising amounts of info available on Chet Khot especially as somewhere nearby there's a nature study center (or here) located which arranges treks to more waterfalls in the area; Chet Khot Nue, Chet Khot Klang, Chet Khot Tai, Chet Khot Yai, Khao Raet (or Khao Khaep?), Krop Fa Phanang and Krok I Dok.
Andy has stayed overnite. Wow.

There's an article from the Bangkok Post (September 2006) about a visit here, including his or her experiences while trekking to Krok E-Dok waterfall, 8-10 kms from the center, but surprisingly under two hours of walk!

Kitaro has a photo overview of Klong Pakkham in Chet Khot forest.

Well, now I know Bangkokians have no reason not to escape town ...

Monday, May 2, 2011


Phetchabun province is just over 4 hours easy drive from Bangkok, but it's a great place to visit which (despite it's proximity) still receives next to no tourist; even Lonely Planet doesn't mention this beautiful province!

In essence, Phetchabun province is a wide north-south valley, crammed between at first hills, later on 1000+ m, so no wonder that waterfalls are a major feature, though surprisingly scarcely visited.

One of the lesser known national parks in Phetchabun is that of Tat Mok, considering that the province also contains the Hin Rong Kla national park. The 290 square km Tat Mok National Park is named after it's signature waterfall which is said to be a 1-level 200-300m high waterfall

Getting here is not too difficult, from Phetchabun town head southeast and take road no. 2271 until it reaches road 2275. A right turn is required and then quite quickly the entrance to the park will need a left turn. From the entrance it is 18 km over a mountainous road to the road head.

Not many foreigners make it this far up-country and after the ticket lady contains her surprise thereafter followed a frantic scram (involving 4 staff members) to find the correct 200B entrance tickets, nearly 7 $US (April 2011).

It takes about half an hour to drive the deserted road to it's ultimate destination. Going up there are two larger viewpoints, if clear one could easily see Phetchabun town. After the first hill there are some more offices and a campground, beyond seems to receive even less visitors. At a certain moment I need to get out and remove a large branch from the otherwise good road. The valley gets more narrower and ends at a small car park with some amenities, but no one seems to be hanging around on a late Monday afternoon.

The track then starts and should last for nearly 3 km, 45 minutes. It's not often that in Thailand there are long walks possible (Thai's prefer drive-in nature) and certainly not well signposted ones. The trail hugs either side of the stream and has seen better times. On narrower sections, the improved pathway has been washed away as do all bridges. Attempts have been made to keep the track passable and it really is a nice beautiful walk.

An improvised bridge

Finally one comes to a section where the trail splits, the lower path continues onward for another 200m to the Song Nang waterfall (or Songnang)whereas the higher steps should take you to Tat Mok.

As rain is threatening with clear intentions of today's daylight being curtailed, I skip the Tat Mok part, as it is a high waterfall but with little water.

Instead the Song Nang waterfall is in front of me. It's a 10 level waterfall with delicious pools to skin dip in, yeah!

Author chillin

After chilling out it's time to return, drops of rain are falling. The best part of this is that birdlife are welcoming the moist and are out in numbers, audible though not visible. A salvo of larger cries leads me to believe that horn-bills are overhead and low and behold at an opening I see no less than 10 juveniles frolicking in the tree tops.

Back at the end of the road, there is still a great place to rinse off the return sweat before returning to civilization.

There are a couple of web sites on Tat Mok, mostly poorly translated from Thai, resulting in a load of gibberish, see for instance
'Tat Mok - two waterfalls her'. has a good posting on Tat Mok / Song Nang including extensive photo's.
Thaiways has a picture of level 6.

Nearby is the hot spring of Nam Rong, possible as a post walk soak.

Related Posts with Thumbnails