About Kaeng Krachan National Park
Important note; Phanoen Thung Campsite (the second campsite inside the park) is still closed. Ban Krang Campsite (the first campsite inside the park at km 15) is open. The visitors will be allowed to walk at most 3 km further west towards Phanoen Thung until km 18. From km 18 until km 30 is off-limits for the visitors.
Kaeng Krachan National Park is one of the best national parks in the country, likely no other protected site has such a big variety of animals. Covering an area of 2,914 km² it is the largest national park in Thailand. It was declared as a national park on 12th June 1981.
The park is very popular for wildlife watching, camping, hiking and it’s impressive viewpoints for sea of mist. The park has also few medium size waterfalls and a couple of smaller caves.
Kaeng Krachan National Park is located in Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan Provinces, about 60 km from Phetchaburi and 75 km from Hua Hin. It is bounded by the Tanintharyi Nature Reserve along Myanmar's border to the west and part of the Western Forex Complex that covers 18,730 km² across 19 protected sites between Myanmar and Thailand.
There are two main rivers in the park; Phetchaburi and Pran Buri Rivers. Both rivers originate from the Tanaosri Mountain Range. In the north, Phetchaburi River flows into Kaeng Krachan Dam and flows further east all the way out to the Gulf of Thailand. Pran Buri River flows south to Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, into Pran Buri Reservoir and out to the Gulf of Thailand.
The highest elevation in the park is a peak along the Burmese border at around 1,500 meters asl.
The rainy season is May to October with the most rainfall in September to October.
Mammal species such as leopards, clouded leopards, bears, stump-tailed macaques, sambar deer, barking deer, elephants, dholes, golden jackals, gaurs, serows, crab-eating mongooses and many others are found in the park.
There used to be a significant tiger population in the park up until a decade ago, but likely only very few left. There are also tapirs in the park.
Being one of the top two birdwatching spots in the country, nearly 530 species of birds recorded from the park. Only Doi Inthanon National Park has around the same number of bird species recorded. In Thailand, ratchet-tailed treepie can only be found in Kaeng Krachan National Park. Other rare birds are; Indochinese green magpie, Eurasian stone-curlew, woolly-necked stork, Japanese robin, and chestnut-necklaced partridge.
Around 120 known reptile species recorded from the park, of which around 70 are snake species. Only two pit viper species found in the park; the southern variation of Pope’s pit viper (Trimeresurus popeiorum) and White-lipped pit viper (Trimeresurus albolabris). Malayan smooth snake (Liopeltis tricolor), Hua Hin kukri snake (Oligodon huahin), banded bronzeback (Dendrelaphis striatus), sawtooth-necked bronzeback (Dendrelaphis nigroserratus) are few rare snakes found in the park.
Possibly because released by rescue services in big amounts, many reticulated pythons can be found in the forests along the main road into the park. King cobras are relatively common, seen often in the same habitat of reticulated pythons.
Kaeng Krachan is also one of the top butterfly watching destinations in the country. Around 300 butterfly species found in the park.
There are no public transportation options into the central parts of the national park but it is possible to get to nearby Kaeng Krachan Town or to the park headquarters by minivan. The central part of the park is far from the town and the park headquarters.
Before getting to the park, good to know where you will be heading. Also good to know opening/closure times when deciding to stay overnight inside the park.
You are recommended to study the map on this page to have a good understanding about where the main attractions of the park are. The map is detailed, will also show some wildlife watching spots.
The real beauty of the park is in the central parts, around Ban Krang and Phanoen Thung campsites. Headquarters area is quite a dull place, only a campsite with a view over the lake.
Get to Kaeng Krachan Town and park headquarters
There are minivans operating from Bangkok and Phetchaburi to Kaeng Krachan Town every hour. Some of the minivans departing from Bangkok is only to Phetchaburi, others all the way to Kaeng Krachan Town. If “Kaeng Krachan” mentioned to the drivers, they will help with exchange to a second minivan when necessary. For more info about the public transportation options, please visit our “Get There” section of the park.
Get to the campsites inside the park
There are no public transportation services to get into the heart of the park. The main park entrance and the campsites are inside the park, far from Kaeng Krachan Town and the headquarters.
It is not possible to enter the central parts of the park by foot, bicycle or motorbike. For practical reasons, the best way to get to the park is with own car, a guide or other private arrangements. Hitchhiking is possible but takes too much effort until reached the campsites, mainly because of too many road turns and lack of enough traffic.
The main entrance to the both main campsites is Khao Sam Yod Checkpoint, about 19 km west from the park headquarters. The “km zero” which is used as a reference point to various spots inside the park is a road junction 1.7 km before reaching this checkpoint. The kilometre reference is frequently used by park staff and frequent visitors.
Ban Krang is the first campsite at km 15, around 320 meters asl. The road until Ban Krang is a paved road in good condition, any car can be used to get to.
Phanoen Thung is the second campsite at km 30, at around 950 meters asl. The bit of road west from Ban Krang until Phanoen Thung is a 15 km long, partly steep dirt road. It strictly requires a terrain vehicle to get to, preferably a 4WD.
The road beyond Phanoen Thung extends another 6.5 km and ends at km 36.5 where a trail continues further west, branches to Thor Thip Waterfall and Phetchaburi River.
It is possible to arrange transportation into the park once arriving to the headquarters. The price is 1,200 Baht one way to Ban Krang Campsite or 1,400 Baht for a round trip over a night. The price to Phanoen Thung is 2,000 Baht for a round trip. With a round trip transport, the driver will stay over the night and return you the next day.
For more detailed info about how to get to the campsite, visit “Get There” section of the park.
Getting to Pala-u Waterfall
Pala-U Waterfall at the south edge of the park can easily be reached by any car or motorcycle. More info at “Get There” section.
Getting around inside the park
The park is best to be explored with a car. It is possible to drive along the main road and stop at various spots for wildlife watching.
The visitors are allowed to walk along the dirt road west from Ban Krang Campsite for about 3.6 km. This bit of road will cross Pran Buri River 3 times until reaching a small dam at km 18 (although it is km 18.6 precisely). The road is popular mainly for birdwatching and butterflies. There are few side trails into the forest along this stretch of the road.
Most of the trails must be walked with either a ranger or a guide. There is a 2 km long trail from Ban Krang to the first river crossing west which the visitors are allowed to walk without a ranger. Another very short circular trail next to the Phanoen Thung Campsite can also be walked without a ranger or guide.
It is possible to arrange wildlife tours with professional English speaking guides. Tours that can be booked via this website area;
Sam Yot checkpoint (the main entrance into the park) is open from 6 am to 5 pm. The visitors inside the park are allowed to get out from the park until 7 pm.
The 15 km road between Ban Krang and Phanoen Thung is only open one way in a strict schedule;
- Heading up to Phanoen Thung; 6:00 am – 7:30 am and 1 pm – 3 pm
- Heading out from Phanoen Thung; 9 am – 10 am and 4 pm – 5 pm
Pala-U Waterfall is open daily from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
The park is open from November to July, closed from August to October. The park headquarters area and Pala-U Waterfall is open all year round.
The entrance fees for foreigners are 300 Baht for adults and 200 Baht for children. Thai citizens pay 100 Baht for adults and 40 Baht for children. There will be an additional 30 Baht fee for vehicles and 30 Baht per night if you intend to camp.
Mobile reception & charging electronic devices
Mobile reception inside the park is very limited and to one provider only; AIS. It is only possible to get signal in the immediate vicinity of the campsites. The cell towers are powered by batteries charged from solar panels. This means, during the cloudy days there may be interruptions in mobile reception. In the evening the campsites and the cell tower is powered with electric motor until around 8 to 9 pm.
It is possible to leave your electronic devices for charging at the restaurants on your own risk.
Camping in one of the two campsites in the central parts of the park is a great experience. It makes it possible to see wildlife during the day and night, lucky visitors will wake up to the magical chattering of gibbons in the early morning which happens now and then.
The main purpose of getting to the park is mainly wildlife watching. Local tourists prefer more the view of the sea of mist in the early morning.
The park being popular for wildlife watching doesn’t necessarily mean wildlife watching is easy. While bird watching is easy, a lot of effort needed to see more of the impressive mammals in the park.
Some frequently seen animals are langurs, stump-tailed macaques, white-handed gibbons, mouse deer, porcupines, sambar deer, monitor lizards, civets and black giant squirrel.
Porcupines and civets can easily be spotted every evening, often behind the restaurant at Ban Krang, feeding on food rests. Sometimes sun bears and golden jackals show up to join the feast side by side with the other animals. Civets can be seen around the campsites, easily located with a flashlight. Mouse deer are often seen in the night along the river banks right down from the camping ground.
During the drier months from February to May it is easier to find mammals around many ponds along the main road. With some effort and luck elephants, gaurs, deer and jackals can be seen, rare but sometimes leopards also seen. Yellow-throated marten can be seen crossing the roads now and then, crab-eating mongooses holds more to the streams.
Sometimes solitary elephants sticks around in the forests around Ban Krang Campsite and may walk through the camping ground.
It happens every few weeks that somebody sees a leopard, the sighting happens often while driving. Like the case with many interesting mammals of the park, it is quite hopeless try targeting to see one. For the record, most of the sightings happen up to 3-4 kilometres east from Bang Krang, another hotspot is around km 22-23 on way up to Phanoen Thung.
Birdwatching is possible along the main road and trails. The rangers and birders often know day to day activities, about where to find certain interesting bird. By asking around, it is easy to get info about some nice spots. Most people are friendly enough to share their “secret” locations after a bit of a chat.
There are few spots inside the forest where it is possible to set up bird hides. One of the hide spots is at a trailhead just a couple of hundred meters from the small dam at km 18 where blue pittas shows up. Along that same trail green-legged partridges and grey peacock pheasants are common. For more info visit our “Birdwatching in Kaeng Krachan” section.
Visiting various habitats will increase the chances to see birds, like along the streams, trails, fruit trees along the roads, different elevations. During the drier months a good option is to set up hides next to the water holes along the smaller dried streams.
Ban Krang Campsite is a great place to see some of the common snakes of the park. If there is enough humidity white-lipped pit vipers, Siamese cat snakes, checkered keelbacks, keeled slug-eating snakes, reticulated pythons can all be found at the edges of the campsite after sunset. The small saltlick near the toilets facilities at the visitor center edge is a great place to find some. There are nearly always some snakes around the water tank at the upper camping ground of Ban Krang. They can be found in and round the small water basin at the far end of the basin or at the forest edge around it.
Clouded monitors are quite common in the park can be seen nearly every day. They are often seen laying on the road, crossing the road or sometimes crossing even the camping ground at Ban Krang. They are often seen in and around the bigger ponds along the road.
It is possible to see hundreds or thousands of butterflies gathered in groups at small mineral rich spots. These spots are often at the river crossings west from Ban Krang and at the campsite. Butterflies are more active during the winter and dry seasons.
The trail options deep into the pristine forest are limited, but there are few good trails. Hiking must be accompanied by a ranger or a private guide as it is easy to get lost. Rangers can be hired on any of campsites for a small fee on availability. Rangers can be hired from 400 Baht for shorter trails up to 3 hours. The price goes up for longer trails. It is not possible to book a ranger in advance.
To see various trail options, open the interactive map from this page to see their location or scroll down to the “Attractions” section of this page for more info.
Sea of mist
During the winter months from November to February, sea of mist can be viewed from a couple of viewpoints around Phanoen Thung Campsite. The entire valleys around gets covered in white mist with only mountain tops sticking up, creating a peaceful view. The nearest viewpoint is in just a few hundred meters walking distance from the camping ground, the second one is a few kilometres further west down the road.
Stay & eat
There are a good number of resorts outside the national park, most of them in Kaeng Krachan Town. Visitors that doesn't intend to camp inside the park are advised to do day trips from these resorts.
There are 4 campsites in Kaeng Krachan, of which two are at the central parts of the park, one at the headquarters area and one at Pala-U Waterfall checkpoint.
Tents and accessories are available for rent from the visitor center of each campsite. Tents cost 120 Baht (2 people), 225 Baht (3 people) and 300 Baht (5 people) per night, accessories 10 to 30 Baht each. If you have your own tent, it will cost 30 Baht per night to use the camping ground.
During the week-ends the campsites may get busier by local tourists but often not really of a crowded level. During the weekdays from Monday to Friday only few tents seen around. The campsites will get crowded during longer holidays for sure.
For more info about each one of the campsites, scroll down to the “attractions” sections of this page.
There are no bungalows or any other accommodation options in the central parts of the park.
There are a number of bungalows near the headquarters; 4 people bungalows are 1,500 Baht per night, one single bungalow for 10 people is 3,000 Baht. A significant discount will apply when booked for Monday to Thursday.
The bungalows in headquarters area can only be booked through DNP website in advance. As the money transfer must be done within 2 days and the fact that it takes a longer time with transfer from abroad, it is only possible to book from within Thailand. Payments can be done at 7-Eleven convenience stores or banks.
There are few more bungalows near the Pala-U Waterfall checkpoint, next to it’s camping ground. These are only available for rent at spot until further notice, eventually to be arranged online via DNP website.
There are basic restaurants at both campsites inside the park and headquarters, but none at Pala-u Waterfall.
You are recommended to ask a Thai speaking person to call on your behalf.
- Visitore Centre: Tel: +66 (0) 03 277 2311
- Park Headquarters: +66 (0) 32 459 293
Attractions of Kaeng Krachan
Ban Krang Campsite
If not the very best, the area around Ban Krang Camp is one of the best places in Thailand for watching rare birds and butterflies.
There are two camping grounds at Ban Krang, one is next to the Pran Buri River along the main road right at the entrance, the other one is just a couple of hundred meters uphill behind the visitor center.
There is a restaurant and two sets of toilet/shower facilities within the main camping ground area. The upper camping ground has also toilets/showers. Tent and sleeping set can be rented at the visitor center.
Along the road east and west from campsite there are several butterfly and bird watching spots and a number of trails into the forest.
The food at the restaurant is basic. Their a bit spicy deep fried fish which is not on the menu is an excellent choice, not always available. The restaurant is open from around 6 am until a bit into early evening, closes around 6:30 pm to 7 pm.
Hua Chang Cave
A cave located 2 km east of Ban Krang Campsite, accessible by a nearly 500 meters long trail. Hua Chang means 'elephant head', referring to a formation that is said to be resembling an elephant head. The cave has a big rocky opening, two bigger and a few tiny small chambers. The cave is around 70 meters in length.
The trail to the cave branches of at a few spots. It is best to get there with a ranger otherwise there is a good chance of getting lost.
Khao Pakarang Caves
Twin caves only a few hundred meters from each other, reached from the “Khao Kakarang” dirt road approximately 3.5 km south from Ban Krang Campsite. The trail to the caves is only a couple of hundred meters after the second river crossing on the left side (not to be mixed up with the classic river crossings to the west from the campsite).
The trail to the first cave is moderate to difficult, but the second cave is very hard and needs almost climbing skills.
Horseshoe bats can be found in both caves. The first cave has an additional chamber, the second cave has a single big chamber. Flashlight is necessary to find eventual cave racers hunting bats but also to see some smaller chambers a bit into the caves.
Visitors must be accompanied by a ranger to walk the dirt road or walk up to the caves. Rangers can be hired for around 400-500 Baht on availability for around 4 hours.
Phanoen Thung Campsite
Phanoen Thung Campsite is 950 meters asl, 15 km further west from Ban Krang Campsite, 28 km from Dan Khao Sam Yot Checkpoint and 49 km from the park headquarters. The bit of road from Ban Krang is dirt road, only accessible with stronger terrain vehicles.
There is a restaurant, visitor center and toilets/showers facilities around the campsite. Tent and sleeping accessories can be rented from the campsite visitor center. The restaurant tends to close around 5 to 6 pm.
Phanoen Thung is very popular for its view of the sea of mist, viewpoints and birdwatching spots. The area around is ideal for watching highland birds such as hawks, eagles and many others. It is the only place in Thailand where ratchet-tailed treepie known to be found.
Yellow-throated martens and Malayan porcupines seen often around the campsite, wild boars occasionally may visit the restaurant for food rests. Not common sighting, but it happens now and then that people see clouded leopards along the road, a few kilometres east and west from the campsite. Sun bears are also seen from time to time.
There is a small circular nature trail through some nice forest habitat few hundred meters east from the campsite. It is a good place to find the southern variation of Pope’s pit viper.
There are no official longer trails around the campsite. There is an approximately 8 km long trail to Khao Phanoen Thung peak, but it hasn't been maintained for a while and closed for the time being. This peak was accessible by a day’s hiking, normally required a night’s stay at the top with a ranger with a strict permission from the headquarters.
Phanoen Thung viewpoints
There are three viewpoints in the immediate vicinity of the camping ground with only a few hundred meters apart. The main viewpoint is few hundred meters west, looks out towards Tanaosri Range on Myanmar's border and has a magnificent view. The other two viewpoints are next to the restaurant and in the camping ground.
There are two more viewpoint along the road further west of which one couple of kilometres from the campsite, the other one not too far from end of the road. Open the map to see their locations.
Located 700 meters northwest from the campsite, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej stayed in this place when he visited the national park a few times in the past. The flag raised on the hill can be seen from the campsite. The area has great view on most directions.
A third of the way uphill there is a big tree on the left side where the very rare ratchet-tailed treepie may be seen from time to time.
To get to the residence, walk west for 400 meters, turn right, walk around the barrier and continue uphill.
Khao Phanoen Thung Peak
With 1,207 meters asl, Khao Phanoen Thung is the second highest peak in the national park. It has a great view and accessible by an 8 km long trail. Unfortunately, the trail is closed for the time being.
A spacious campsite along the lake next to the park headquarters, about 6 km from Kaeng Krachan Town center. Tents are available for rent from the visitor center. There are several clean toilet and shower facilities, a restaurant, a smaller kiosk and an ATM in the vicinity. The visitor center and the restaurant offers free WiFi, mobile reception is good in the area.
Unless arrived too late to enter the central parts of the park, the visitors are not recommended to stay in this campsite. Ban Krang and Phanoen Thung campsites are better options.
Bird species such as hornbills, kingfishers, herons, egrets and many others can be found in the vicinity of the campsite.
Kaeng Krachan Dam
Holding the reservoir within Kaeng Krachan National Park, the dam is outside the park, 4 km northeast of the HQ. There are few islands in the reservoir and the lake is suitable for a number of water activities. There is a viewpoint on the top of the dam barrier with a view of the lake and the town.
Apart from the trails to some attractions like Thor Thip & Phetchaburi River, to both caves, there are few others trails into the forests, not to any particular attractions;
There are two trails inside the park that the visitors can walk on their own without a guide or a ranger. One is the popular 2 km long trail starting from the far end of the Ban Krang Campsite, follows the river and the dirt road, ends at the first river crossing west. Not easy to get lost as one side of the trail is steep up mountain slope while the other side is river which flows along the dirt road. The second trail is a short and circular one called “Nature Trail”, a few hundred meters east from Phanoen Thung Campsite.
Rafflesia Trail starts around 650 meters east from Ban Krang. Here, a smaller variation of rafflesia flowers can be found, blooming around October to December. The trail continues down to Pran Buri River crosses the river and ends at the Pakarang Road south from the campsite. It is possible to walk around the hill with the Youth Camp to make the hike longer back to the campsite. The trail required a ranger or guide to walk.
A recently (2018) opened trail starts just at the entrance of the northern campground at Ban Krang. This trail is 2 km long through the forest and ends 650 meters east from the camping ground on the main road at the opposite side from the small nature trail. Visitors should never walk this trail on their own as there are many clear side trails, very easy to get lost. Elephants and bear seen in this area, even claw marking after bigger cats (likely leopard) seen on the trees. Once reached the road, it is possible to enter the Rafflesia trail on the opposite side and continue another 1 to 1.5 km or so back to the campsite, or just walk back along the road.
Another new trail opened from Ban Krang Campsite earlier in 2019. We haven’t mapped this trail yet. The trail is difficult to walk, quite steep up to a mountain and ends at an abandoned ranger station. More info about this trail to follow next few months once we explored it.
Read further below about Pran Buri Waterfall & Trail.
Ponds & saltlicks
There are many artificial ponds in the park, most along the main road from around km 9 until Ban Krang Campsite. Some ponds are not seen from the road, accessible by short stroll into the forest.
The ponds get filled with water during the rainy seasons and become an important water source for animals during the dry season until they eventually dry out.
Animals seen around the ponds are; king fishers and clouded monitors are very common, sambar deer and reticulated pythons are the next relatively common sightings but it doesn’t mean they can be seen easily. Elephants, gaurs, leopards, dholes, Asian golden jackals, king cobras are seen around these ponds from time to time, some very rare. Sometime turtles can also be seen in the ponds.
There are several saltlicks around up to 4-5 km east from Ban Krang. Gaurs, elephants, deer seen visiting these saltlicks from time to time.
Thor Thip Waterfall & Trail
Important info - Thor Thip Waterfall is closed until further notice.
A 9-tiered waterfall along the Phetchaburi River accessible by a 2.4 km long moderate/difficult trail. The trailhead is at the end of the dirt road 6.5 km west from Phanoen Thung Campsite. Most of the trail is easy to moderate to walk but the last few hundred meters of the trail down to the waterfall is very steep, difficult to walk, very slippery when wet.
Although it is a multi tiered waterfall, only one tier can easily be reached. When getting there, chances that someone else will be there is minimum. Water flows down on the rocks nearly vertically and streams down to a couple of ponds. It is an excellent place to relax and swim, the view of the forest around is excellent.
The area around is as far in to the park visitors can get in.
A side trail continues another 1.5 km west, passing one of tiers of Thor Thip and continues all the way to Phetchaburi river.
Pran Buri Waterfall & Trail
A small waterfall accessible by a moderate to difficult hike. The trailhead is near the small dam 3.6 km west from Ban Krang Campsite. Since only getting forward and backward to the trailhead will be over 7 km, it is wise to get to the small dam with a car and start hiking from there. The trail itself about 3-4 km long, it follows the stream all the way to the falls.
There are two other smaller waterfalls down and upstreams from the waterfall. Last kilometre of this trail is a more difficult to walk. The trail often is covered with overgrown bushes, fallen bamboos or trees, not easily accessible. The smaller fall upstream is quite difficult to reach. A ranger or guide needed to walk this trail.
The valley along the trail is quite lush most of the year, interesting place to find many animals. The area is known to be bear habitat, tapir dung has also been seen.
A 16 tiered waterfall falls at the southwest edge of the national park, easily accessible from Hua Hin area by route 3219. The checkpoint, visitor center and the camping ground is 4.5 km before reaching the falls.
The tiers are not too high but all accessible by a rocky path. The main activity is to swim in one of the many ponds or walk the rocky path of the falls for kilometres into the forest.
For the campers, tents and accessories are available for rent from the visitor center. There are no restaurants near the falls or the campsite. The nearest restaurants are in Huai Sad Yai village 12 km east.
There is no mobile reception around Pala-U Falls, nor any reception at it’s checkpoint and the camping ground.
The waterfall is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm every day, all year round.
Where to go next?
If you need ideas where to get next after visiting Kaeng Krachan, a few options;
Khao Yai National Park; located in the opposite direction from Bangkok. It is one of the best national parks in the country with best possibility to see some impressive wildlife.
Near Hua Hin
Kui Buri National Park; nearly 100% chance you will see wild elephants any given day of the year. Other common mammals; deer, golden jackal, Burmese hare and gaur.
Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park; to see Phraya Nakhon Cave, few other caves, freshwater march with very impressive view of limestone mountains, viewpoint, boat tour in canal.
Visit WFFT; to see rescued wild animals, rehabilitation facilities and attend a tour. Here you will find number of permanent resident animals, and others waiting to be released to the wild. Animals like elephants, primates, slow loris and many more, hundreds of them.
Erawan National Park; it is the most popular waterfall in the country for the foreign tourists.
Sri Nakarin Dam National Park; It is the park where Huai Mae Khamin Falls is located, around 40 km further north from Erawan. It is a similar waterfall, even better than Erawan Falls.
Sai Yok National Park; it is popular for its caves and waterfalls.