Kaeng Krachan National Park in Thailand, is located
approximately 53 kilometres west of Phetchaburi city and approximately
115 kilometres from Bangkok. While Thailand has 129 national parks, Kaeng Krachen (which
opened back in June 1981) is the largest, covering an area of
some 2,915 square kilometres and is situated within the rugged granite
Tanaosri mountain range. Due to its size, the national park borders two provinces including Phetchaburi (and the districts of Kaeng Krachan, Tha Yang) and Prachuap Khiri Khan (and the district of Hua Hin).
is one of Thailand's most ecologically diverse national parks that incorporates pristine rainforests, waterfalls, caves, and rugged mountain ranges (which
peak at approximately 1200 metres above sea level) and the picturesque Kaeng Krachan Dam (see image below).
This man made lake was constructed back in 1966 across the Phet River, and is a marvel in itself covering an area of approximately 46 square kilometres with a water capacity of some 710 million cubic metres.
In 1974 a 19 Megawatt hydro electric generator was added to the Kaeng Krachan Dam which is large enough to produce over 70 million units of electric power each year for the national grid.
Due to the beauty of the lake (which encompasses no fewer than 20 small islands) and the vantage point it provides of the surrounding mountains, boat tours and boat hire have also become quite a popular activity within the national park.
There are only a couple of roads within the national park so the impact upon the flora and fauna by humans has been limited to some degree. However, despite being a national park there are said to be a number of privately owned plantations within the area.
Kaeng Krachan National Park is immense, and due to its shear size it is home to both stunning and unique species of flora and fauna.
There are over 461 species of birds to be found here including: the Asian Fairy Bluebird,
Crested Jay, Grey Peacock-Pheasant, Hornbills, Orange Breasted Trogan,
Blue Pitta, the Great Slaty Woodpecker and white-fronted scops owl.
Hence, the national park is a bird watchers paradise and attracts many visitors each year to engage in this activity alone.
Due to the extensive evergreen forests within the national park there are a number of important tree species for this region including: the Hopea, Afzelia, Dipterocarpus, Lagerstroemia, Aquilria and Pterocarpus to name but a few, and these provide habitat to over 300 species of butterfly.
These forests support a diverse animal population and there have been no fewer than 57 species of mammals noted here along with other endangered species such as squirrels, gibbons, tigers, serows, Asian elephants, Asiatic leopards, barking deer, tapirs and wild dogs.
Kaeng Krachan National Park receives a high annual rainfall it contains
a number of beautiful rivers, streams and waterfalls that
add to the beauty of this landscape.
These waterfalls include: the Pranburi Waterfall (which has 3 levels), the Thorthip-Hinlad Waterfall (which has 9 levels), the Mae Laliang Waterfall (which has 3 levels), and the majestic 15 level Pa La-U Waterfall.
This latter mentioned waterfall which is fed by a stream extending to the Myanmar border is the largest within the national park. It includes a series of naturally formed rock pools that have been created by the
water flow and provide the perfect location (i.e. on the third level), for a swim in the cool clear water.
Trekking is a popular activity here and the many walking trails provide tourists with a great opportunity to reach some fantastic vantage points where they can view cloud covered mountain tops and breath in cool mountain air.
Some of these trails are over six kilometres in length and allow hiking up to the summit of the Panoen Thung Mountain or to an altitude of some 1,207 metres above sea level. This hiking track also contains one of the more remote camping grounds, although a permit is required at the park entrance for those tourists who wish to hike and camp.
For the more adventurous visitors to the national park, canoes and kayaks can be hired which allow for exploration of the lake and rivers.
Kaeng Krachan National Park also has a couple of accommodation options for visitors including camping grounds and bungalows while grocery stores and restaurants are also situated within the park overlooking the lake.
The best way to travel to Phetchaburi is to take an express bus from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal (on platform 6) located on Borom Rachachonnani Road at Sai Tai Tailing Chan. The journey from Bangkok to the Phetchaburi bus terminal takes approximately two hours. The National park can also be accessed via the district of Hua Hin.
The best way to travel to the Kaeng Krachan National Park from Petchaburi city is by songtaew or tour bus. The journey is about 53 kilometres and will cost around 600 baht each way, which will get you to the park entrance and if you wish to travel further to your campsite etc it will cost extra..