About Khao Chamao - Khao Wong
Named after two mountains and designated as a national park in 1975, Khao Chamao - Khao Wong National Park is a relatively small park covering an area of 84 km². The forest covering the national park is part of a much bigger forest complex including many other protected sites in Thailand and Cambodia. The park is situated mainly in Rayong Province and a smaller part in Chantanaburi Province. It is popular destination for it's waterfalls, viewpoint, caves, limestone mountains, cliffs and hiking possibilities.
The mountains of the national park reaches an elevation of about 1,000 meters above the sea level, covered with broad-leaved evergreen forests on higher altitudes. The montane forests are source of water that flows down to watershed area of the Prasae River, providing surrounding agricultural areas with water. The central south-east of Thailand where the park is located has rainy season from May till October, cold season November to February and hot season March to April.
The park is very popular among local tourists and can be extremely busy on holidays and week-ends during the high season. Even on normal days during the rainy seasons a lot of tourists shows up. Opening times are from 8:30 am till 4 pm every day all year round, including on public holidays. The 4 pm limit is the time to leave the waterfall, so people can leave the park much later than so until 5 or 6 pm.
The visitor center area is located around 70 km from both Rayong and Chanthaburi towns and nearly 125 km from Pattaya, only 1 km off from highway 3377. There is a spacious campsite, bungalows, various facilities, 2 restaurants and few kiosks mainly selling beverages in the campsite from 8 am until 4:30 pm. There are few other restaurants outside the park towards the main road, these can be open up until 6pm to 8pm depending on day of the week or amount of seasonal tourist activity, busier times are normally week-ends.
The entrance fee is 200 Baht for foreigners (100 Baht for children), Thai citizens 40 Baht (20 Baht for children), (July 2018 price). When staying inside tha park at bungalows or campsite, same ticked can be used for 3 days 2 nights, otherwise, for multiple visits from outside, new tickets must be bought every time.
Despite the small size, thanks to the extension of the mountain range and adjacent protected sites, the park has some exiting animals to offer. Animal sighting is very rare on low elevations near the villages and along the trails to the waterfalls due to high amount of daily visitors, but deeper inside the park and specially on higher altitudes animals like elephant, gaur, Indochinese serow, bear, leopard, leopard cat, pileated gibbon, banded langur and boars can be found.
There are more than 50 confirmed bird species in the park of which some are; Siamese fireback, wreathed hornbill, great hornbill, lineated barbet, Indian roller, thick-billed green pigeon.
Getting there & stay
There are no public services to the national park. It is possible to arrange a private transportation to the park from most hotels, hotel reception teams will gladly call and arrange a driver for you for various price. There is no need for a guided tour as the trails are relatively short and well signposted.
Drive from Pattaya, Rayong and Chanthaburi
Take Sukhumvit road (east from Pattaya or Rayong and west from Chanthaburi) until Thung Khwai Kin and turn north to Khao Chamao (highway 3377) where you will see a signpost to Khao Chamao. Drive about 16 km until you see a signpost to Khao Chamao Waterfall. Turn right and drive another 1 km until you reach the checkpoint.
There are 17 bungalows in the visitor center area, from 600 Baht with fan only, 800 Baht with a/c for two people and 1,200 Baht with a/c for 4 people. The bungalows must be pre-booked in advance through DNP website, during the high season well in advance. The visitor center area has a spacious camping area where it is possible to set up tents. It was possible to rent tent from the visitor center in the past, but not anymore. Visitors who wish to camp advised to take their own tents with them.
To rent a tent, visitors are recommended to call in advance and ask availability (likely Thai speaking only).
Attractions of Khao Chamao - Khao Wong
Klong Pla Kang Waterfall
Located 5 km north from park headquarters, another 7 tiered waterfall worth to visit, accessible by a bit over 1 km long trail. The area has an interesting mix of ferns and orchids. Several of the ponds are suitable for swimming. The visitor center area of this waterfall doesn't have any restaurants.
Khao Chamao Waterfall
This waterfall is the main attraction of the park where the national park headquarters and the main visitor center is located. The waterfall is 8-tiered, but only first 7 tiers are accessible to the public by a 1.7 km easy to moderate trail. There used to be a trail to the 8th tier but it is closed since over a decade ago, there are no plans to re-open it. The trail start from the visitor center area, about 300 meters into the trail there is a secondary "checkpoint" where visitors needs to show the content inside their bag as food is not allowed beyond this point.
The waterfall has enough water all year round, but with much less water and crystal clear during the dry to hot seasons. It is possible to swim in some of the ponds but the water stream can be quite strong during the rainy days in rainy season.
Khao Wong Caves
Khao Wong area of the national park is an isolated small mountain 5 km south east of Khao Chamao, nearly 20 km from the headquarters. The main attraction of the area is Khao Wong Caves, a series of caves accessible by a trail through an impressive forest habitat through impressive limestone cliffs. The cave is very popular during the winter and dry seasons, attracting many local and foreign tourists, due to its muddy nature the cave gets less visitors during the rainy seasons.
A trail that starts from a nearby checkpoint leads to the first shrine-cave which has nearly 7 meter wide opening and an average of 35 meters height through it. Continuing through this cave, the trail will lead to a wide and high entrance (exit) at the other end, this entrance is covered with vegetation hanging from above and with sight of forest outside, making it a spectacular view while walking out. The trail will continue between cliffs to number of other caves through forests, entrances to these sub-caves are only few hundred meters apart.
During the cold and dry seasons the trails are pretty dry and easily accessible. During the wet season the trail gets muddy through forested areas, many water ponds will build up blocking the route. A rubber boot nearly knee height may be required. Hiking through the caves must be accompanied by a ranger during the rainy seasons, they can be hired at the checkpoint. There are times when it rains too much, the trail will be closed.
In our opinion, walking this trail is best at the rainy season as the lush and green forest passage between limestone cliffs gives a true jungle feeling. The muddy passage makes the walk more adventurous, it is no doubt one of the best cave walks in Thailand if walked during the rainy season (if the weather allows of course).
There are total 80 caves in Khao Wong area, not all accessible.
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