Monday, December 24, 2012

Continued II

What seemed impossible, is now just a byline. The announced fee hike has been shelved. New Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) chief Rerngchai Prayoonvej has turned back the decision by his predecessor, so reports the Nation (1 Nov. 2012). 
No reason given, so just pure populist tactics?

The Thai Travel Weekly though adds:
'The decision is in response to a deluge of criticism from various travel industry associations'.
So ends another unneeded drama ...

Saturday, October 13, 2012


And yes, it is continued.

On August 30 TTR weekly report 
'Thai Ecotourism and Adventure Travel Association is preparing to a letter to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation requesting a postponement of higher entrance fees at 29 national parks'. 
And then on the tenth of September
'Following complaints from tour operators, the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation decided to postpone admission fee increases at 29 popular national parks from 1 October to 1 Janaury 2013. 
a reliable source at the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation said another postponement might follow after further discussions.'. 
Possible relief ...

Same same? But not in entry fees
'Farang under waterfall'
From flickr member floschneekoenig

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Your money's worth

Just thought I would warn you. Thailand's National Park Department has decided to raise entrance fees on 29 parks as of 1 October 2012. In the TTR Weekly there is a full overview of which parks and why the tariffs are up.
'The department claims the top national parks are suffering from too many tourists and the new fees will be a deterrent to help fight deterioration of a sensitive environment. Also the department says it will use the additional revenue to improve facilities to better serve tourists'.
Already complaints are mounting. And I have to agree. Despite the entrance fees, there's little to show. Visitor facilities are at best mediocre, trails extend at best 20 minutes by foot, anything beyond that is a jungle expedition and the staff tend to hang around a lot, hardly see them doing anything productive.

But yes some national parks are packed (witness Erawan waterfalls) but maybe putting a day limit on the amount of visitors might do wonders. Or help to develop alternatives.

To be continued? 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dry and salt?

For those of you seeking even more info, here are two snippets of news.

The first concerns a travelfish entry on Phu Quoc, Vietnam Tranh stream, possibly the only (seasonal) waterfall on this otherwise dry island.

The other concerns a saltwater waterfall in Trang province, Thailand. Posted on the TTR Weekly it mentions that money will be thrown into creating visitor facilities for this rare waterfall.
'The downside is that the waterfall is only visible during the 14th to 15th full moon and first and second days of the waning moon from 0600 to 0800 and from 1700 to 1800'.

Hmmm, ....

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Up the creek

Easily accessible from the most touristed stretch of the Khao Lak coast (Phang Nga, Thailand), it could be expected that Chong Fa would be nearly overrun or near ruined. However the opposite is true.

'Please do not entry to the waterfall'
The entrance gate (Chong Fa is part of the Lam Ru National Park) is half open or half close with a poster revealing that the park is somehow off-limits (photo above). A plus is that the park is (still?) open. Furthermore, no entry fees are required. And once again the access road is too difficult to take. There is a lone ranger, but he has his pitched his hammock up high and is wondering what his dreams will bring him.

From the entrance to the waterfall is a 1km long access road. From the road head it’s another 200m walk along a track to the first level, so no real strenuous hike, but a deliteful one nonetheless.

Getting there is a big part of the experience.
Chong Fa is a fabulous waterfall with lots of water crushing down into a deep and sunny pool. Downstream along the access road, are more swim holes, all deep and free flowing with great opportunities for a great dip.

It really is amazing, this piece of paradise so close to the paradise lost of Khao Lak.

There’s one website which has some more info on Khao Lak’s waterfalls (it mentions Chong Fa as having a steep (!) track to the first of five levels), but in general Khao Lak’s waterfalls are neglected and ignored, despite these being a great way to diversify the coast’s attractions, generate income and able to increase awareness of the globe’s natural surroundings, their fragility and the unique experience they offer. It contrasts with other places nearer Bangkok where waterfalls have become attraction parks, places of recreation.

But for me the tranquillity and (temporary?) absence of the great world is an opportunity to indulge in swimming, plunging and receiving a natural back massage.
Chong Fa, back massage please!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Deserted & ditched

The waterfall named Kha On (or Thap Mon) is another great find. A difficult one to find, it is just 13 kms from the main road, not far from Thap Sakae, Prachuap Khiri Khan.

The road gradually deteriorates and after passing what might be a ranger post (Kha On is part of Huai Yang National Park), a decision is made to ditch the car before going down the hill to find out that a return would be impossible.

Five hundred meters beyond the spot where we left the car behind, is indeed what might be referred to as a car park, with a toilet building nearby. Deserted on a week day, the height of the grass also points to the lack of an enthusiastic pack of waterfall hunters, yea!

An excellent path explains the nine levels and with swift jumps the no. 9 is coming ever closer. After half an hour, we have passed all levels and arrive at the uppermost level, described as a 15m drop which we will contend is the truth.

Level no. 9

other levels though are just small breaks, some hardly registering a drop.

Kha On is another beautiful undiscovered place. And well-maintained.

If one understands Russian see this blog. It doesn't add much, but many photo's.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Neatly served

Well signposted, Sai Rung (which translates as rainbow) waterfall might be rated as the better known of Khao Lak’s triple waterfalls, just north of the beach center.

Otherwise known by the local name of Pak Weep (Pakweep), the turnoff is just north of the bridge, north of Le Meridien. The wide road leads one to beyond a turnoff to the waterfall, a total of 3 km from the main highway 4. Again the road heads through the linear plantings of palmoil and rubber. The road ends at a car park. Sort of a car park.

Continuing on foot, the obvious trail goes over a bridge to a cluster of huts on the opposite bank. The environs of these are being swept by an elderly gentleman, it still being early morning, looking forward to the new day, the new guests. The trail continues beyond, to a fall with a delicious pool underneath.

A novelty of sorts, a table is waiting on us, the table well set, drinks poured and towels within reach. Totally incomprehensible, these are not destined for us! Set back a little from the table are two westerners, busily cooking their own meal under direction/assistance of only 5 local cooks. Probably from the nearby Sarojin resort.

The waterfall itself is a 30m crash. On the opposite bank, steps leads one up into the slippery and slimy rainforest. It just goes up and up as the falls are in reality a set of crashing falls seemingly unendless, falling down from somewhere higher, even higher.

As Khao Lak (Phang Nga) is an upcoming resort to cater to the increasing numbers of tourists seeking exactly an escape, it's no wonder that waterfalls feature highly on the to do list of any visitor. mentions Sai Rung being the
'most immediately accesible'
which seems weird as it's located quite far away from Khao Lak town.

Cathy and gary had some problems finding the place:
'We originally set off well prepared with a map looking for a different waterfall. The map was absolutely useless and after a few hours of driving through beautiful countryside and stopping and asking numerous times where to go, we decided to head back to the hotel for a swim'.
There are also quite a few vids on youtube. As well as a photo on Panoramio.

Another beautiful waterfall, possibly attracting too many visitors ...

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Heading for Ton Phet waterfall (น้ำตกโตนเพชร), Ranong, Thailand, there are a great many signboards indicating the direction required to take. Mostly at places where the direction is, in reality, so obvious.
However where they lead us to, is the start of a rutted track, where one should most probably continue upwards.

The car is ditched and the climb attacked. Fifteen minutes later, the climb comes to what was once a nice park-like setting with a view of the waterfall. The view of the waterfall on the opposite side of the valley!

Had one, though, taken a footpath along the river, before the climb, one would have easily reached the foot of the 11 levels of water gushing from the jungle to the partially developed valley.

The Ton Phet waterfall is just west off the Highway 4, heading south from Ranong town. The 2 km access road winds itself through rubber and palmoil plantations and the last stretch of road slowly deteriorates and becomes unsurfaced as it gets steeper. There’s a ford to cross after which you would have to make a decision, the fall proper or the view.

Unfortunately a simple internet search would have revealed
'Visitors are recommended to ask villagers in the area for directions'.
Cathy and Gary on vitualtourist report
'After lunch we headed for Ton Phet Waterfall, it took us ages to find this place, off the main road onto rough dirt tracks, talk about being out in the wilderness, I kept thinking what if we cant turn around at the end as in places the track was quite narrow.
Eventually we came to the end of the track and there was some sort of small waterfall with an old rickety falling down bridge going across the stream.
We didn’t stay here very long and decided to explore another little track off to the right, this track was a bit boggy so there was a little bit of sliding around.
At the end was a lovely swimming hole with a Thai family bathing, it was a great spot, perfect for a drink break'.
There is another photo on Panoramio.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Close to Prachuap Khiri Khan town is the lesser known Khao Lan waterfall.

Part of the
Huai Yang National Park, Khao Lan is just one of the five major waterfalls of this park, which runs from the lower hills to the mountains on the border with Burma. Highway 4 south from Bangkok leads one along many easily accessible waterfalls. Khao Lan is just 14 kms off the highway but a total different world.

From the highway, one turns land inwards until a small roundabout, take the left road and continue along this road as it gradually deteriorates. We take a wise decision to park near a banana plantation, about a km short of the end of the road. The last km is a very steep washed out road, to be tackled only with a 4WD. A total of possibly 14 km from the highway.

At the end of the road is a national park office though their role seems to be insignificant. The track along the stream to the 5 levels of the waterfall is (contrary to the access road) well maintained, Khao Lan is another beautiful walk, not too strenuous (we are after all in Thailand) but natural enough to ensure the experience.

Despite the well maintained trails, the place is deserted. Another great piece of the amazing country to relax. Pack a lunch at the main highway near the turnoff, the well signposted Coffee and Go is good place and different to the usual Thai roadside restaurants.

Overnite stays can be done in Prachuap itself, a nice relaxful seaside place.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

From a distance ...

Namtok Ngao waterfall is located just outside of Ranong town, heading southwards. It is not to be missed as this cascade spectacularly falls over the cliffs, just a couple of kilometers from the main road (see photo above).

Especially spectacular towards the end of the monsoon, they are still very discernible from the road at any time of the year.

Getting close up is possible by getting entry to Namtok Ngao National Park. Another good source of information is here.
Mostly covering the main mountain ridge, there are a few other waterfalls in this national park, but none as easy accessible as Ngao. That said, the waterfall is something to be seen from a distance, rather than up close where the specific spectacularity fades.
Such that a nearby treeless hill (Phu Khao Ya) actually acts as an attractive view point of the Ngao waterfall, 10 kms away!

There is a hot spring not too far away from the main road in the same Namtok Ngao National Park, Porn Rang. Having been spruced up to the tune of $1 million (source), it's a very entertaining place to take a soak and enjoy the scenery. And the national park plays host to Pu Chao Fa a rare freshwater crab (source). Another great fact.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Massage please

Don't enlarge this picture!

About 10 km south of Suk Samran, on Thailands Highway 4 between Ranong and Takua Pa, just north of a bridge, an attentive passer-by will see a wearied and worried signboard, pointing inland, inwards to Suan Mai waterfall, part of Sri Phang Nga National Park, home to many new and unknown waterfalls.
The small road first passes some kampong houses, crosses a bridge and slowly climbs up through rubber and palm oil plantations, interspersed with some durian orchards, ripe for the picking.
The road deteriorates, then improves. After deteriorating again, one needs to continue going straight in a sharp left hand corner.
The road gets steep and enters a protected environment with what was once a parking area before a steep hairpin to an office with some tired looking government staff.

After stepping out of the car, one hears the rushing stream. Following a wide track and then a smaller track along a waterpipe, the 10 minute ‘trek’ ends at the foot of a nice 20 m high waterfall, Suan Mai.

Beneath the fall is a great pool to cool off and swim up for a natural back massage. Another nice find.

The surroundings are still very natural and pristine, despite the relative accessibility of these falls from the highway.

Interesting background knowledge is the website of the Andaman coast community tourism. It highlights some lesser well known waterfalls near Kuraburi. Other than this mention there is not much other information on the internet, it's very far away from anything remotely touristic, but as said a great find.
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