10 things to do in Thailand’s Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
Fishing cats sure seem to like the wilds of Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park.
The park is also a great place for travelers to get away from the hustle and bustle of typical tourist destinations. The area’s name is synonymous with the “Mountain of 300 peaks,” with sheer limestone cliffs framed by mangrove forest and pristine beaches.
Khao Sam Roi Yot is Thailand’s first coastal National Park. Clocking in at a more than 38 square miles, it also means there’s plenty of space to roam. For you city-dwellers, that’s a slightly bigger than Manhattan-sized patch of gloriousness. So, if you’re headed Thailand way, or dream of getting there someday, here’s our greatest hits list for making the most of this tropical paradise.
Camp on the beach
Let’s just start with the epitome of the nature beach experience, a visit to Sam Phraya Beach. There’s nothing quite like relaxing on a pristine beach to put you in the full-swing of vacation. Just 3 miles north of the main park headquarters, you can enjoy almost a mile of sand and surf. Pitch a tent, spend an overnight and get away from the crowds. Ahh, bliss! Click to view a gallery.
Grab your torch and light up the darkness of Sai and Kaeo Caves. Nothing says mystery, like exploring a stalagtite and stalagmite riddled cavern. Sai cave is located about 6 miles from the park headquarters in the bush of Tanot, A half hour hike will bring you to the cave filled with spectacular stalagmite displays. Bring a flashlight or rent a lantern from Ban Khung Tanot. Tours take about 1 hour.
Kaeo Caves about 10 miles from park headquarters in Chan Valley also offers a little spelunking-style getaway. This cave system is a little more complex and requires a guided tour. It’s sure to promise at least two hours of spectacular geology viewing. Click to view a gallery.
Give it up for the Birds
Khao Sam Roi Yot might translate to “Mountain of 300 peaks,” but it’s also the park of 300 bird species. If you enjoy looking out for our feathered friends, this is the place to visit. The park is located along the East Asian/Australian Flyway. From September to November, the wetlands become a major migratory stopover for birds from China, Siberia and Northern Europe as they head south for the winter. Sam Roi Yot Freshwater Marsh is ripe for such bird-viewing opportunities. Click to view a gallery.
Search for the elusive…
Serow, an elusive, black goat-antelope calls the mountainsides of Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park home. With the right set of binoculars you may even be able to catch a glimpse of them. In the meantime, you can also keep your eyes out for monkeys, dolphins, the barking deer and of course fishing cats!
Visit a royal pavilion…in the middle of a jungle cave.
In Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park lies the Phraya Nakhon Cave, which shelters a gorgeous royal pavilion. Who wouldn’t want to visit that? The cave is actually two sinkholes that collapsed, creating a sunlit cavern. Roots dangle down from above and trees grow up from the bottom. The cave was first discovered about 200 years ago by its namesake, the Thai ruler Phraya Nakhon, who was forced ashore during a storm. The pavilion is a symbol of the Prachuap Khiri Khan province, and traditionally visited by Thailand’s rulers. It can be reached via a trail on Laem Sala Beach. Click to view a gallery.
For that matter, visit the Laem Sala Beach
This cape looks like an island from the water, with a beach surrounded by land on three sides. You can get to it by boat, and either stay in bungalows or camp along its shores. Enjoy the restaurant or hike to Phraya Nakhon Cave. Either way this will give you an island hideaway feel. Click to view a gallery.
Monkey Around, Literally
There are three types of primates that inhabit Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, and you’re virtually guaranteed to have a close encounter with at least one of them. Dusky langurs abound here, and the park is reputed to be one of the best places in the world to catch sight of this primate’s amusing antics. If you’re lucky, you might also see the crab-eating macaque or slow loris. Check out our post on the one-armed loris. You don’t get an animal much cuter than that, and Namfon, our biologist friend currently takes care of one.
Take a Boat Ride along the Canal
A popular activity for tourists is to hire a boat tour of the mangrove forests along the edges of the park. You can rent a boat or even kayak or canoe from Ban Khao Daeng about one mile from park headquarters. The tour takes about 1 hour, and it’s a prime opportunity to see birds. We recommend visiting around sunset. Click to view a gallery.
The Mangrove Forest Nature Trail is a boardwalk, interpretive trail through, you guessed it, the park’s mangrove forest. Here, you can learn about why these forests are so important, and also take in the wildflowers. Click to view a gallery.
Soak in the Scenery from Khao Daeng Viewpoint
Atop the more than 500 foot tall peak of Kha0 Daeng you can get a breathtaking view of the surrounding coastline (and a fair number of rice or shrimp farms). Rumor has it that this is also a good place to see crab-eating macaques. Visit at dawn to catch a glimpse of the sunrise from the sea, and watch the wildlife come out for breakfast. No feeding the animals though! Click to view a gallery.
So what are you waiting for?
Now you have no excuse not to enjoy your time, or make Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park a stop on that dream vacation to Thailand. You can learn more about the park, including getting there and lodging on the park’s website. And if you go, please send us some photos. We will feature them on CAT in WATER!