Photo: A sala within a cave.

Thung Sam Roi Yot Wetlands

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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.

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The place is usually deserted, too.

The place is usually deserted, too.

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.

A fragile ecosystem.

A fragile ecosystem.

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.

Glimpse of a purple heron.

Glimpse of a purple heron.

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.

10 of Sam Roi Yot's 300 peaks.

10 of Sam Roi Yot’s 300 peaks.

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.

Utterly soothed.

Utterly soothed.

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.



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