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Thale Ban National Park

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With headquarters just two kilometres from the Malaysia border checkpoint in Wang Prajan, Thale Ban National Park covers 196 square kilometres of jungle-clad Khao Chin mountains and extensive mangrove forest to the west.

A couple of waterfalls are worth checking out on the way here, and you might spot some wildlife, but the namesake "lake" might disappoint when the lotuses aren’t in bloom.

We set off on a motorbike rented from On’s Living Room in Satun town, cruising north along Highway 406 before diverging onto the quieter Route 4184, which cuts back south towards the national park headquarters and border crossing. Two waterfalls were on our agenda: Ya Roi at 6.7 km north of the main park gates and Ton Plio (also spelt Piew) a few kilometres further north.

Welcome to the jungle. Photo taken in or around Thale Ban National Park, Satun, Thailand by David Luekens.

Welcome to the jungle. Photo: David Luekens

Riding leisurely past remote mosques and villages as steamy mountains rose sharply to our left, we came first to the small brown sign for Ya Roi Waterfall and wondered if we’d missed the turn for Ton Plio. After finding the small parking area and gate for Ya Roi deserted, cement steps carried us alongside whitewater cascading over a few small drops.

The official website describes Ya Roi as having "nive" tiers, and we never did figure out if it was nine or five. What we can say is that two of the tiers are lovely, with water rushing over two-metre-high boulders framed by dense jungle. The steps give way to side paths towards the upper tiers, where it was slick in places. Down at the bottom, the clear stream was just deep enough for a dip.

Continuing south through checkpoints manned by machine gun-touting soldiers (common near any border checkpoint in Thailand), we were greeted by a more friendly looking monkey at the main Thale Ban turnoff. The three women who collected our 200 baht per person entry fee looked surprised to see us; we don’t reckon they get many foreigners ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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How to get there
To get here from Satun, head north on Satun Thani Road (Highway 406) for 20 km and hang a right at the large intersection in the town of Khuan Don, following signs to Wang Prajan. After another eight km, take another right at the fork onto Route 4184, which runs straight down to Thale Ban. The whole trip is 40 km one-way from downtown Satun to Thale Ban headquarters.

If you want to hit Plio Waterfall first, go slow and look for an old mosque with a faint Roman letter sign that says "Mosgue Thungmaperang." The left turn is another two or three hundred metres south of that, between the police box and homestay. From here you can continue south on 4184 to Ya Roi Waterfall, located a half-km down a side road that's marked in English by a brown sign, and the main Thale Ban gate.

Occasional songthaews and minibuses do run to/from Wang Prajan, but they're infrequent and you'd most likely have to wait for quite a while along the side of the road in a remote area on the way back, or try to hitchhike. You could however arrange a motorbike taxi or mini pick-up truck taxi in Satun to take you out here for somewhere between 500 and 1,000 baht roundtrip.

Thale Ban National Park
Admission: 200 baht for foreigners

Location map for Thale Ban National Park

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