Into the jungle
Published/Last edited or updated: 20th March, 2018
A trio of waterfalls and two notably impressive old-growth trees will show you the majesty of Ko Kut’s rainforest. All of these spots are free to visit, but don’t expect to see much water flowing from February through May.
Khlong Chao Waterfall
Once visited by King Rama VII, this is the most popular waterfall on Kut and it gets especially busy with Thai visitors who flock in on holidays and weekends. The trail in leads you past gnarly boulders before emerging at a wide oval pool with the falls churning over a six-metre cliff and a shelf reachable after a climb (only when the falls aren’t too strong). Vines and branches dangle over a rope swing for tumbling yourself into the cool water.
The waterfall is situated a few kilometres west of Khlong Chao Beach with signs marking the way. You can also kayak or employ a private boat for a cruise through the mangroves on the actual Khlong Chao waterway, and then walk to the falls from a little docking area nearby.
Khlong Yai Ki Waterfall
This little-visited waterfall is located in northern Ko Kut on the way to Soneva Kiri and Bann Makok—look for signs pointing right into the car park. From there it’s a fairly steep climb down a stairway before you reach a streambed near the falls, which look a lot like a smaller version of Khlong Chao Waterfall.
Khlong Yai Ki has a deep pool for swimming along with smooth rock surfaces for sunbathers who could use a break from the beach. It can be combined with a day trip that also includes kayaking from Bann Makok to the sublime Khlong Yai Ki Beach. Otherwise, it’s no big deal to give this one a pass.
Huang Nam Kaew Waterfall
Our favourite of Ko Kut’s three waterfalls thanks in large part to the deep-jungle setting, Huang Nam Kaew has three tiers of water cascading over short cliffs with forest towering overhead. The short but steep trail drops you at the middle tier, and from there it’s an easy hop up to the slightly larger upper tier. To get a full view of the lowest tier you’ll have to climb down a steep section that should be manageable for casual rock climbers.
To get here, take the main road northeast out of Ao Tapao and then bear right, following signs for “Giant Makka Tree” (and not Ao Salad). The five-kilometre road is sealed for a while and then turns to dirt before ending at a white concrete rest area near the trailhead. A small homestay is found here if you like the solitude.
Most people visit Huang Nam Kaew Waterfall on the same excursion as Ko Kut’s two famous giant trees, both of which are found right off the same road. First up is an incredible sai (banyan) tree that has asserted itself over the surrounding jungle in a dramatic twisting of roots.
A bit further on towers a 500-year-old macca tree that’s even more impressive than the sai. Surrounding its enormous central trunk are secondary trunks rising from roots that stand upright like support beams. Also adding to an eerie appearance are the bright skirts, blouses and garlands left as offerings to the feminine spirits believed to dwell amid ancient trees like these.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.