Don't miss them
Published/Last edited or updated: 19th June, 2021
Framed by a vast expanse of limestone peaks, a long wooden walkway leads over mirror-like water where reeds and lotuses mix with fish and the colourful birds that feast on them.
Often left off itineraries due to a lack of good travel information from the national park, the freshwater wetlands known as Thung Sam Roi Yot should not be missed. Few places in Thailand are as peaceful.
Connecting seven red-roofed pavilions in various states of repair, the walkway extends for hundreds of metres over the wetlands. Fish teem in the 30-square-kilometre marsh, their splashes and diving birds causing an occasional ripple. While most of the lotuses weren’t in bloom during our visit, we did appreciate the countless giant cat-tales swaying in the breeze.
Views gets better the further out you go, each pavilion providing welcome breaks from the sun. For minutes at a time, we stopped to watch graceful herons and kingfishers soar over the water’s surface, while other birds of prey glided far overhead. Though we’re not particularly into birdwatching, the diverse array of birdlife took our breath away.
The mountainous backdrop is what turns an already beautiful scene into sublime. Towering llimestone cliffs reflect dark grey and pale tan on the water while stretching a faint purple into the distance.
>While the coastal attractions are not to be missed, Khao Sam Roi Yot’s distinctive landscape cannot be fully appreciated without a visit to the wetlands.
Back on land, we marveled as the soon-to-set sun reflected on the water. The only noise we could hear were the rumblings of a far-off thunderstorm. You simply won’t do better than this if seeking a quiet and romantic spot. There are even a few rowboats for a sunset paddle through the lily pads.
Basic Thai meals and drinks can be purchased in the on-site restaurant, or this is an excellent spot to bring a picnic. Camping is also available if you feel like sticking around. An observation tower is provided for birdwatchers; arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon for the most active birdlife, photogenic atmosphere and manageable temperatures.
The Thung Sam Roi Yot walkway is located in the northwestern corner of the national park near Rai Kao village, but getting here requires driving up (or down) around the mountains along Route 1021 if coming from the north (which is easier) or Route 2026 if coming from the south, then looping down (or up) along Route 4 (aka AH2). From the southbound lanes of Route 4, keep your eyes peeled for a blue sign that says only “Nature Study Center” pointing down a side road that’s also marked by larger signs for Wat Sam Roi Yot with pictures of local monks. Head straight through the village until you reach a yellow-and-brown sign pointing left towards “Lotus Swam” (meaning Lotus Swamp). After that left, go briefly straight, then right over the railroad tracks, then immediately right again, followed by a left through an old Chinese gate. This will put you on the road that winds past a Chinese temple and through the wetlands before cutting back towards the national park gate and parking area. It’s a full 40 km one-way trip from Bang Pu, or 30 from Phu Noi beach.
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.