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Erawan National Park

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The very popular Erawan National Park sprawls over 550 square kilometres of the Salop mountains in rural Kanchanaburi province. While cave enthusiasts, bird watchers and orchid hunters could keep busy here for weeks, most come specifically for Erawan Waterfall, a wondrous multi-tiered set of falls named after a divine three-headed elephant.





Beginning behind the Visitor Centre, the wide concrete trail to Erawan runs past multiple restrooms, trashcans and a bottle deposit station before emerging at a clear mountain stream. At the first tier, Lai Khuen Rang, you’ll catch a first glimpse of the fish, ubiquitous in Erawan’s countless pools. Minnows like to hang around swimmers and pick at their dead skin; some might find them unnerving while others will enjoy the free fish spa.

Lush setting. Photo taken in or around Erawan National Park, Kanchanaburi, Thailand by David Luekens.

Lush setting. Photo: David Luekens

Streaks of whitewater cascade over a rounded limestone cliff that almost looks like a cave formation at the second tier, Wang Matcha. The wide pool of bright emerald water is fabulous for swimming, at least when it’s not too crowded, with nooks where you can hang out behind the falls. This tier alone is more enthralling than most other waterfalls that we’ve visited in Thailand. And it was just the beginning.

A side trail cuts a few hundred metres to the third tier, Pha Namtok, home to another another phenomenal swimming hole graced by a roughly 20-metre-tall waterfall and surrounded by rocky cliffs and greenery. Here we saw some tourists tossing cigarette butts on the ground, despite the no smoking signs. Not cool, guys.

The trail gets a lot tougher from the third tier up; bring decent footwear and drinking water if you plan to embark on it. A steep stairway is the first test of endurance, though it rewards you with a breezy viewpoint overlooking the Khwae Yai valley. Small children should be keenly supervised here and also at a neighbouring cliff that looks down over the third tier ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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How to get there
Erawan National Park is a straightforward 65 kilometre trip north up Route 3199 from Kanchanburi town. It’s a pleasant motorbike ride, but buses run from the main bus station direct to the national park Visitor Centre every hour from 08:00 to 17:50; the 90-minute journey costs 50 baht and the last bus back to Kanchanaburi leaves at 17:00. Expect to spend a good three to five hours exploring the falls, especially if you plan to make it to the seventh tier, which is a challenging 1.5-km hike from the Visitor Centre. Tour operators run trips to the park, which often include elephant treks, rafting and lunch. Admission for foreign adults is 300 baht.

Erawan National Park
65km from Kanchanaburi
Daily 08:00 to 18:00
http://nps.dnp.go.th/parksdetail.php?id=16&name=ErawanNationalPark
Admission: 300 baht

Location map for Erawan National Park

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Kanchanaburi.
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