The Khao Luang National Park in Thailand, is a wilderness area which lies 30 kilometres from the town centre of Nakhon Si Thammarat; which is a lovely province located approximately 610 kilometres south of Bangkok.
The national park is actually named after the Khao Luang Mountain peak (see image below) which reaches a height of 1,835 metres above sea level and is the highest peak in southern Thailand. Khao Luang which is located within the Nakhon Si Thammarat Range was designated Thailand's 9th national park back in December of 1974.
Since then Khao Luang National Park has developed to become one of the best national parks in Thailand which was acknowledged in 1999, when it won an award in Thailand for its outstanding beauty and nature.
However, after saying this the national park has been criticized due to the lack of access for visitors, as there are no roads crossing the park only some sparse tracks which extend to the most noted features.
Covering an area of some 570 square kilometres, this large national park has a number of natural features including tropical rainforests, sheer limestone cliffs, waterfalls and free flowing rivers.
The mountains contain a number of drainage basins which feed rainfall into several rivers including: the Krung Chin River, the Klai River, the Tapee River, the Pakpoon River and the Pakhanang River, and these help to support human life within the surrounding villages.
During the rainy season or from May to January the park receives much of its 3,500-4,500 millimetres of annual rainfall, and this allows the waterfalls to flow at their best. These waterfalls include: the Nai Khiao Waterfall, the Krung Chin Waterfall and the popular Karome Waterfall (see images above and below) which is well signed and has 19 spectacular levels. However, the seventh level (named Nan Dat Fa) is the most beautiful and it also has a large rock pool suitable for swimming.
is a 2 kilometre walk from the entrance, to the seventh level so enjoy
the scenery on the way up and take a dip in the cool water once you
Water cascades down over each of the levels commencing at an altitude of around 1,400 metres. Each level of the Karome Waterfall is also given a name and these include Nan Phung, Nan Dat Fa, and Nan Soi Dao which is located at the top.
FLORA AND FAUNA
The national park supports an abundance of wildlife due to the cool temperatures of the rainforest habit and good annual rainfall. Indeed, there exists a variety of bird, animal and flora (including 300 species of orchids, along with Rhododendrons and Begonias, ferns mosses and lichens) species which seem to thrive here.
For example, there are no fewer than 327 species of fauna that reside within the Khao Luang National Park and some of these animals include: Reptiles (such as lizards and snakes), Elephant, Panther, Tiger, Clouded Leopard, Barking Deer, Sumatran Serow, Asiatic Brush-tailed Porcupine, Wild Pig, and Malayan Tapir to name several. There are also numerous insect and exquisite butterfly species (see image below) that thrive within this rainforest habitat.
For birdwatchers, there are more than 200 species of birds that live here and on a good day, it is said that a birdwatcher can expect to see upwards of seventy different species.
These include: Trogans, the White-crowned Hornbill, the Red Junglefowl, the Black Eagle, Bushy-crested Hornbill, the Great Pied Hornbill, the Helmeted Hornbill and the Red-crowned Barbet to name a few.
Safari style trekking, camping and sight seeing are among the most common activities within the national park although swimming is also available at some of the waterfalls as noted above.
Many people also come to the park to engage in birdwatching and there are a number of tour groups who come here. I have also heard that white water rafting is available along the Krung Chin River through tour operators although I have not done this myself.
Within Khao Luang National Park there is a cafe and seven bungalows along with a number of camping sites (see image below) for those people who like to sleep under the stars.
Although, accommodation is also available (including the Khao Luang Resort located near the park entrance) in several of the villages which surround the national park . My advice would be to stay in Nakhon Si Thammarat and take a day tour of the national park.
The Khao Luang National Park is located 30 kilometres from Nakkhon Si Thammarat. The headquarters and tourist centre are located near the Karome Waterfall. Their contact number is (075) 35 4839. Peak season is between December to may and temperatures vary between 20 degrees Celsius and 30 degrees Celsius.
The best way to travel from Bangkok to Nakhon Si Thammarat within southern Thailand is by either plane bus or train. I have actuallly traveled to Nakhon by each of these modes of transport and they are each very easy and hassle free.
Buses depart daily from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal (located in Thonburi district) for Nakhon. An overnight bus journey takes around 10 hours from memory.
The Nakhon Si Thammarat Airport which was first opened in 1998, is a small airport located approximately 14 kilometres from the centre of town in the Muang district. The airport is frequented by Thai Airways and Air Asia. Flight time from Bangkok is approximately 70 minutes.
Trains depart Bangkok's Hua Lamphong Railway Station at 5.30 PM and 7.15 PM. Travel time is approximately 12 hours and the Nakhon Railway Station is located within the town. Sleeper carriages are available and I would recommend them for such a long journey.