Tourists are being invited to take advantage of the cooler weather and visit Kaeng Krachan National Park.
The park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest national park in Thailand and is located a little over an hour’s drive from downtown Hua Hin.
It covers districts in both Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan including Nong Ya Plong, Kaeng Krachan, Tha Yang and Hua Hin.
With Thailand exiting the rainy season and entering ‘winter’, between now and the end of the year is the best time to visit the national park, officials have said.
Kaeng Krachan National Park can easily be accessed by private car or bus, especially for people travelling from Cha Am or Hua Hin.
The park has an abundance of activities, interesting sites and things to see and do.
It is mainly popular for wildlife watching, camping, hiking and its impressive viewpoints which offer some of the most spectacular views of Kaeng Krachan. The park has also a few medium size waterfalls and a couple of smaller caves.
There are a number of different sites which offer overnight camping, which are convenient, safe and have electricity and toilet facilities, said Mr. Pichai Watcharawongpaiboon Director of the Office of Conservation Area 3 (Sorbor.3), Phetchaburi Branch.
There is also a wide range of other accommodation available throughout the national park, which is typically very affordable, Mr. Pichai added.
A particular highlight for visitors takes place in early November, when tourists can trek to the top of the Khao Phanoen Thung viewpoint, where they can see a ‘sea of mist’.
The mist covers the valleys below leaving only the tops of the adjacent mountains poking through, creating a spectacular scene.
There are a total of three viewpoints where the mist can be viewed, all of which are accessible from the Phanoen Thung Campsite.
Visitors are required to stay at the campsite overnight then waking up before sunrise and hiking to the top of the viewpoint, accompanied by park rangers.
The area around Phanoen Thung is also perfect for bird watching, especially highland birds such as hawks and eagles.
It is also the only place in Thailand where ratchet-tailed treepie are known to be found.
Other wildlife that can been around the campsite include Yellow-throated martens and Malayan porcupines, while wild boars, clouded leopards and sun bears may also occasionally be seen in the area
As well as the Phanoen Thung Campsite, another popular campsite is at Ban Krang, which is one of the best locations not only locally but in all of Thailand for bird watching.
From early March, the area is swarming with butterflies and is well worth visiting.
Ban Krang actually consists of two campsites, one next to the Pranburi river, while the other is located a few hundred meters away behind the main visitor’s centre.
The sites include a restaurant, toilet and shower facilities.
The end of the rainy season is also a great time to visit the Pala-U waterfall, which is located in the park.
The excess rainfall during Thailand’s period of wetter weather means that the waterfall should be flowing nicely for anyone who visits during October.
The waterfall features a total of 15 levels and it is possible to hike all the way to the top. However, dense forest from levels 7 to 15 make the climb difficult and not suitable for all visitors.
Levels 1 to 3 of the waterfall are most suitable for swimming, while level 7 is arguably the most picturesque with its large basin surrounded by foliage.
Access to levels 8 to 15 is a little more challenging and involves a fair bit of climbing.
Park officials actually recommend that people only go as far as level 7.
The forest that surrounds the waterfall is home to a wide variety of different animals including monkeys, langurs, gibbons and various rare birds.
It’s also not uncommon to see wild elephants on the main road to the waterfall.
And while spotting an elephant in the wild is a spectacular sight, you should also exercise caution and don’t get too close to the animal.
Tourists interested in staying in Kaeng Krachan or finding out more information about the national park can contact the following: