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I arrived into Suvarnabhumi on the 8th January 2016, and swiftly began two months teaching in a government school in Ayutthaya province. The weekends were a great way to escape, and one weekend I made the most of popping over to Kanchanaburi to visit Erawan National Park for my first hike. The park hosts Erawan waterfalls which are made up of seven tiers and are famous for emerald green pools. My visit was during February, just at the end of Thailand’s winter season and still a long way off wet season so unfortunately the waterfalls weren’t much to shout about. Having said that the hike up was beautiful, with lush green scenery, and at least two beautiful pools to swim in.

I hiked to waterfall seven first, it was the furthermost away and in 30 degree heat it was a modest 1.5 km from the park entrance. Unfortunately the waterfall had essentially dried up, but the pool despite being rocky was a beautiful shade of blue and refreshing after the hike up. Of course beware of the fish spa….free exfoliation.

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The climb up is mostly footpath, with bridges over the river and pools, the occasional rock fall, and a few dodgy rickety rotting ladders. The hike itself is accessible to any ability, and if you’re a fan of swimming in the fresh water pools then you have a fantastic reward awaiting you. After seven, waterfall four was another worthy stop. The pool was considerably deep, enough so to jump in from a small height from a rock. There was also a natural slide down what is probably the waterfall during wet season! It was great fun and for me the best part. Oh and the fish were not so keen to nibble your dead skin *wince*.

Erawan is best done early in the morning, to make the most of the cooler temperatures and to beat the crowds. Unfortunately the path does get a little crowded, and you get the sense the trail is purely a tourism tool. The waterfalls are undoubtedly natural, but apart from some small water hogs near the entrance you get the feeling wildlife deserted the immediate area once the tourists started flooding in. That being said if you’re in Kanchanaburi and need to stretch your legs, Erawan is a good place to start.

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My second hike was a result of a spontaneous trip to Khao Yai National Park, home to Haew Suwat Waterfalls; the famous Leo jumping off scene in the beach. After camping in Lam Takong we started the trek from the next campsite over, Pha Kluaymai. Again the path was well marked, and considerably accessible. For the most part it followed a stream leading eventually to the waterfall. The path was a great opportunity to absorb the greenery and appreciate the vastness of the park. That was until the signs reading ‘beware of crocodiles’ started swiftly followed by just that….a sleepy crocodile besides the path; apparently this is the parks only crocodile. It would have been fine however I was accompanied by two fellow, near to retirement, Thai teachers who seemed intent on waking the reptile up.



The path was beautiful and serene, and this peace came to an abrupt end on arrival at the waterfall. Unsurprisingly Leo was not there to meet me, and instead I was greeted by hordes of tourists queuing for their perfect picture in front of the rather dry waterfall….can’t say I blame them however the trek was definitely my highlight as opposed to the destination.

Khao Yai itself is a vast and beautiful National Park. Campsites pack up on weekends with Thai tourists escaping their urban lives, the camping grounds get a little crowded but have a pleasant atmosphere. I half expected someone to stat shouting ‘Alan…’ Guide books often state how they can’t understand why more backpackers and Western tourists don’t frequent the park as much for it has unprecedented natural beauty and some well-marked out walking trails which can be identified from the useful visitors centre. I myself can see why through the crowds of visitors, not many fitted the descriptions offered by said guidebooks. Firstly, the park is not easiest to get too; public transport will take you as far as some of the nearby towns such as Pak Chong, but then you will still have to make your way to the park’s entrance via private transport. Then there is the park fee, 20 Thai Baht for Thailand Natives and 400 Thai Baht for foreigners. On one hand this is fair, considering we are after all tourists from the Western world. However this entry fee is still steep by Thai standards and adds up on top of transport costs. The ticket is single entry and you do of course still have to pay a camping charge, plus extra if you need to hire a tent, and roll mats. From my point of view I believe people may not simply want to spend quite so much effort and money visiting Khao Yai when other parks are slightly more accessible. Having said that if your find yourself in the area, or wondering where to go from Ayutthaya then consider giving it a chance. Likewise if you’re a fan of the beach, it’s a site to tick of a fan girl/guy list.

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