Phu Hin Rong Kla national park

Stunning views, communist hide-out

No pic at the moment -- Sorry!

What we say: 4 stars

Phu Hin Rong Kla became a national park in 1984. For the decade before it became a park, it served as the headquarters of the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT). These headquarters became a battlefield in the early 1980s, as the Thai military attacked and eventually succeeded in dismantling the CPT.

The visitor's centre is a great place to start an exploration of the park. There is a small museum that showcases artefacts from the communist era, including medical instruments, Chinese anatomy charts, and paintings of Communist heroes Mao Tse Tung and Joseph Stalin. Some of the captions are in English, so it's well worth a visit.

Near the museum is a pleasant 3.5km trail that takes visitors to some of the park's historical sites. Included in this hike are the Communist Party Headquarters and air raid shelter, and the Flag Pole Cliff where red flags were flown after military victories against the Thai government. (The tri-coloured Thai flag flies there now, of course.) Close to the Flag Pole Cliff is Lan Hin Pum, a cliff whose top is made of nodulated stone. The CPT brought medical patients here to relax, as there is often a cool breeze that flows over the area.

Another location in the park houses what is left of the Communist military school. Originally, the school was comprised of about 30 wooden buildings, but the air here is quite damp and the houses are slowly rotting away. A very short hike (300m) will bring you to a small waterfall and a water wheel that was built by engineering students who fled from Bangkok to join the CPT after the military cracked down on their anti-government protests.

There are several other waterfalls in the park as well. Some are only a few hundred metres off the main road, while others require a more strenuous four to five km hike through the mountainous forest.

A variety of overnight accommodations are available near the Visitor's Centre in very well maintained bungalows. Small wooden bungalows that sleep three people are 300B, while larger concrete buildings are priced from 800-2000B depending on the size and number of beds and bedrooms. The largest bungalow is the size of a small house with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and sleeps eight people.

There are several small, simple outdoor restaurants serving Thai food near the Visitor's Centre and bungalows. Even if you are not staying the night, these eateries are a great place to grab a snack before heading back to Phitsanulok.

More details
130km from Phitsanulok town
How to get there: The easiest way to reach Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park is by private car. The park is located 130km east of Phitsanulok city. Follow Highway 12 from the capital to the turn-off to Nakorn Thai at the 68km marker. From here, follow the signs to the park. (You will turn off to the park before reaching Nakorn Thai.)

It is also possible to reach the park by motorcycle. The road from Phitsanulok is mostly flat, but the last 10km are very steep, so a powerful engine and steel nerves are required.

The park can also be reached by bus. Take one of the hourly buses to Nakorn Thai. Songtaews make the remaining 30km trip from Nakorn Thai to the park at 09.30, 10.30, 14.00 and 15.00.
Last updated: 4th August, 2006

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