Thailand is a popular travel destination and millions of tourists from all over the world travel to the Southeast Asian country every year. In particular, the heavenly beaches and dreamy islands in the south of the country attract countless visitors. In the north of Thailand, however, tourism is calmer and more relaxed. The area is more authentic and unadulterated. There are no islands or beaches here, but the region has its own wonderful charm. Culture, ethnic minorities, tropics, and mountains shape the northern part of the country. Countless national parks with breathtaking landscapes await you here. One of them is the Erawan National Park. Erawan is the name of a mythical elephant with 3 heads that played an important role in the history of Thailand for most of the rulers. The Erawan National Park is located near the city of Kanchanaburi and borders the Sai Yok National Park. The route of the death railway marks the border between the two parks. In Erawan a mountainous region with dense jungle awaits you, in which elephants, monkeys and other exotic animals live. A huge lake borders the forest area and is ideal for activities on the water. You will also be able to explore some beautiful caves here, but the absolute highlight are the waterfalls in the park. I also explored the waterfalls during my backpacking trip through Thailand and report on my experiences in this travel blog. Have fun reading.
Overview of the waterfalls of the Erawan National Park
On the eastern edge of the Erawan National Park, a stream plunges over several imposing waterfalls into the great Khwae Yai River, which also flows through the city of Kanchanaburi. From the entrance to the national park, an approximately 3-kilometer-long hiking trail leads uphill along the waterfalls. There are a total of 7 different levels in the park. The first two waterfalls are easily accessible for everyone. There are picnic areas, restaurants, and plenty of swimming opportunities here. Accordingly, mainly Thai families cavort here and make this area of the park a very popular place. But the further you walk up, the emptier and quieter it becomes. Only a few people take the partly steep path to the remaining 5 waterfalls, although these are in no way inferior to the first two. Rather the opposite. Small fish swim in the turquoise-blue pools in front of the waterfalls and nibble at your feet, and at several viewpoints you have a wonderful view of the surrounding landscape. But more on that later.
8 am - 4.30 pm
300 THB (Child 200 THB)
October to January
How to get to the Erawan Falls
Getting to the Erawan National Park
Getting to the falls is easy and runs through the city of Kanchanaburi. From there, a public bus (number 8170) runs from the bus station to the park entrance. I recommend taking the first bus at 8 am, as most tourists don’t arrive until around noon. A one-way trip costs 50 baht and takes about 2 hours. It is best to come early so that you can get a seat and don’t have to stand in the aisle with your head bowed. In the pictures you can see the bus schedule and the inside of the bus.
Getting to Kanchanaburi
As already mentioned, I recommend arriving via Kanchanaburi. Buses and minivans run regularly from Bangkok to the city from Sai Tai Mai bus station or Mo Chit. You have to reckon with around 150 to 250 Baht for the approximately 3-hour journey. You can buy tickets directly at the counter, but in the high season I recommend reserving tickets in advance. You can buy bus tickets in Thailand conveniently and cheaply via 12go.asia. So far, I have only had good experiences with it and have bought tickets more often.
The route through Erawan Park
After the bus comes to a stop in front of the entrance, a ranger gets on the bus and distributes the tickets for entry to Erawan Park (300 baht for adults). There are some food stalls in the parking lot where I can get some provisions. Then I follow the paved path along a small river and mainly meet Thai families there. A family man who I obviously feel sorry for me asks me why I am traveling alone. Wouldn’t that be boring? But his whining children and listless-looking wife confirm that I made the right decision. Soon we reach a huge area with the first and second level of the waterfalls. The second waterfall is particularly impressive. It bears the name of the national park because it is divided into three parts like the three-headed elephant Erawan. The area is ideal for swimming and relaxing. Picnic areas, restaurants and plenty of seating are in the immediate vicinity. Mainly families and tourists who are brought with tour providers gather here. Early in the morning it is still quite empty here, but on my way back people crowded here on the shore.
The most beautiful waterfall in Erawan
Since I want to get to the top as early as possible to have the small pools to myself, I follow the small path towards the summit. Over a small bridge it goes into the dense jungle. I quickly reach the third level, which is to the right of the path. It looks like a little paradise. An imposing waterfall falls into a turquoise pool where a local bathes. Fish swim on the banks of the clear water, waiting for food. Rock walls and tropical plants rise into the sky around this natural pool and give the place a heavenly atmosphere. For me, the most beautiful waterfall in the park.
Short Facts for your Trip
The Erawan National Park has a tropical-monsoonal climate. The main season is characterized by cool (26°C) but dry weather (October to February). From March to May it is very hot (> 30 ° C). Then the rainy season begins at the end of May and brings a lot of rainfall and storms over the country. Accordingly, the waterfalls carry the most water during the transition from rainy to high season and are particularly rewarding. I visited the falls at the end of March and the river was very dry and hardly carried any water, but it was still very beautiful. You will find a climate table on the following page.
Erawan’s fish spas and viewpoints
The path gets steeper and curves through the dense forest before returning to the fourth level of the river. Here the masses of water plunge over two large rocks into a large pool with turquoise water, which is perfect for swimming. Unfortunately, I visit Erawan Park in March at a time of the year when the river has little water. Because normally you can slide over the two rocks into the cool water here. So, I sit on the edge, put my feet in the clear water and let the small fish nibble on my feet. A free natural fish spa.
A wooden staircase, the steps of which are streaked with roots and rocks, leads further up into the mountains. The trail becomes more slippery and narrow. Sturdy shoes are definitely recommended. I come to a lookout point that promises a wonderful view over the vastness of the Erawan National Park. In the distance the green mountains stand out and clouds hang deep in the valleys in between. I sit down, enjoy the view, and let my thoughts run free. The background noise in the forest is only a small foretaste of the biodiversity that must prevail in the vastness of the jungle in front of me. How likely is it that I will see wild elephants on my trip through Thailand? A monkey that suddenly races over the railing and immediately disappears again interrupts my thoughts. I’m on my way again.
The waterfalls in the upper area of Erawan
After a short hike uphill, I come to the fifth level of the river. A spacious place awaits me, where small rocks in the river form a multitude of cascades. Since the water level is very low in March, this area looks very bare. The water flows barely noticeably over only a few rocks and does not necessarily give the appearance of a waterfall. However, pictures on the Internet from other seasons show a wonderful area that definitely invites you to swim and relax. A little above this area I discover a small, idyllic place where the water forms a pool. Another good opportunity for a fish spa.
I only meet a few people. The path becomes more demanding and the jungle thicker. Soon I reach a junction to the sixth level. This waterfall is also not particularly spectacular due to the drought in spring. Nonetheless, the remote place offers a real jungle feeling with its green backdrop, the splashing water, and the sounds of the animals.
The highest waterfall and a private pool
The last part of the hike is tough because it’s another 100 meters uphill. I don’t meet any more tourists this morning and excitedly walk to the seventh level of the river. A small pool awaits me, the clear water of which shimmers turquoise in the sun. Small fish swim excitedly on the edge when they see me on the bank. I don’t have any swimwear with me, but I go into the inviting water. Immediately I take a refreshing shower under the cold waterfall that falls over a rock into the pool in front of a cave. The climb was more than worth it, because where do you have such a shower all to yourself? Apart from the small fish, of course, which, as soon as I stand still, immediately start nibbling on me.
Conclusion on the waterfalls in Erawan Park
The waterfalls in the Erawan National Park are definitely worth a visit. I recommend coming straight after the rainy season, because then the river carries a lot of water. During the dry season, some areas were barely filled with water. It was nice and worthwhile anyway. It’s best to arrive early in the morning so that you can avoid the tourist rush around noon. I also recommend going straight to the seventh level. Because then there is the chance to have the paradisiacal pool all to yourself. The way there is about 2.5 kilometers long and requires an ascent of 200 meters. The trail is easy to tackle, but quite steep, especially at the end. Sturdy shoes are definitely recommended.
The water is incredibly clear and turquoise. At every pool or waterfall, I felt the need to jump into the water. Be sure to think of swimwear. But not only the waterfalls, but also the backdrop of the jungle make this place an unforgettable experience. The entrance fee is a bit too high in my opinion but shouldn’t be a reason to miss Erawan Park. I would definitely come back.
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Surroundings and highlights in the Erawan National Park
In the national park there are some caves with stalactites and stalagmites inside. The best known is the Phra That Cave, which is located west of the National Park administration. There are also the Ta Duang, the Mi, the Wang Badan and the Rua caves in the park. The caves are closed to visitors on some days and a ranger is sometimes required for the visit. The best thing to do is to ask the administration for more information.
North of the Erawan National Park is the huge Sinakharin Reservoir. Here you can expect wonderful views of the blue water and an impressive dam wall. Activities on the water are also possible here.
The city of Kanchanaburi is a 2-hour drive south and offers some must-see attractions. The Khwae Yai River that flows through the city is particularly beautiful. Additionally, the famous bridge on the Kwai leads over this. The Thailand-Burma Railway, also known as the “Death Railway“, runs here. I took the train from Kanchanaburi to the Nam Tok terminus and highly recommend the ride.
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