About Khao Luang
Located along the Southern Tenasserim Hills Range in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province in Southern Thailand, Khao Luang National Park is a mountainous national park covering 570 km². The park is popular for its numerous waterfalls spread out all over the park.
The habitats include mountains, limestone cliffs, granite massifs, rainforests and number of rivers. Drainage basins makes the park an important watershed for the surrounding populated areas through the Krung Chin River, the Klai River, the Tapee River, the Pakpoon River and the Pakhanang River, of which the Tapi River is one of the peninsula's most important rivers flowing into the Gulf of Thailand. Khao Luang Mountain which the national park is named after is the highest mountain in South Thailand at a height of 1,835 metres above sea level, in fact, it is the highest point south from Doi Inthanon which is the highest mountain in Thailand.
The national park has two main seasons, the hot season from February and April and the rainy season from May to January with intensive rain from October to December. The area where park located gets monsoon rains from both the east and the west costs of the peninsular. Annual temperatures are between 20 and 30 °C.
The park forests include moist evergreen, hill evergreen, deciduous and bamboo forests. The park is known for its over 300 species of orchid species, some of them only to be found in the park. It is also a popular destination for birders, home to over 200 species of birds, one of best locations in southern Thailand for bird watching. Although the sigthing for bigger and more impressive ones are quite rare, the park is home to many interesting mammals.
Interesting mammals found in the park are barking deer, sambar deer, Asiatic brush-tailed porcupine, elephant, binturong, Sumatran serow, wild boar, banded surili, dusky leaf monkey, Southern pig-tailed macaque, clouded leopard, leopard, tiger and Malayan tapir.
Some of many interesting birds are; great argus, crested fireback, white-crowned hornbill, plain-pouched hornbill, helmeted hornbill, bushy-crested hornbill, black eagle, Wallace's hawk-eagle, green broadbill, Javan frogmouth and red-crowned barbet.
The headquarters is located only 30 km west from Nakhon Si Thammarat and 130 km east from Krabi, only 1.3 km from highway 4015, easily accessible by songtaew from Nakhon Si Thammarat or by private car/motorcycle. The only attraction at the HQ area is the Karom Waterfall, there is not much else to do there. The main attractions of the park are number of other waterfalls spread out over the park, most of them easily accessible by car.
The headquarters area has a visitor center, restaurant, cafe, number of camping areas and toilet/shower facilities. The restaurant is open from 8 am until 16:30 pm.
Visitors should be aware that if there has been too much rain during the rainy season around October to December, some waterfalls may get closed for visitors. Water flow at all four major waterfalls are good all year round.
That the national park is home to some interesting mammals such as tigers, leopards, bears, tapirs doesn't mean Khao Luang is a nice place for wildlife watching. Finding any of these mammals, especially the cat species is extremely rare, such species are found on very remote areas deeper inside the park.
The entrance fee is 200 Baht for foreigners (children 100 Baht).
There are only two bungalows, both at Krung Ching Waterfall camping ground area. The 2-people one is for 600 Baht and 20 people one for 2,000 Baht, a significant discount will apply when booked for Mon-Thu. Bungalows can be booked through DNP website in advance. As the money transfer must be done within 2 days and the fact it takes longer time with transfers from abroad, it is only possible to book from within Thailand only. Payments can be done at 7-Eleven convinicence stores or banks.
Only bigger tents for 5-6 people are available for rent at the headquarters area, costs 500 Baht per day and includes accessories such as sleeping bag, mat, pillow. There is also a campsite at Krung Ching Waterfall at the north side of the park, cheaper and 2-3 people size tents available for rent from 250 Baht a day with all accessories included.
There are also some homestays and resorts a bit out from visitor center and Krung Ching Waterfall area.
By own car/motorcycle - Take highway 4016 west from Nakhon Si Thammarat town center, follow the signposts to Karom Waterfall and turn left to highway 4015. The headquarters area is signposted after 20 km on right side.
By songtaew - Dark-blue songtaew from Nakhon Si Thammarat towards Lan Saka and Khao Kaew departs every hour until 4 pm for 30 Baht per person. Songthaews stop by at the main road a bit from HQ or sometimes if told the drivers may turn to side road and drop off at the headquarters area. You have to tell the driver you will stop by at the Karom Waterfall (Nam Tok Karom), it will be harder to explain you need to be dropped off at the national park.
Private transportation - Most hotels will help arrange a private transport there.
Nakhon Si Thammarat can be reached by trains from Bangkok's Hua Lamphong Railway Station, overnight trains with sleeper carriages departs daily at 5:30 pm and 7:15 pm, it takes 12 hours to reach the city. Various airways also have daily flights from Bangkok. Buses also depart from Bangkok Southern Bus Station daily; the journey takes around 10 hours. Nakhon Si Thammarat can be reached by minivan from all major cities around.
Attractions of Khao Luang
Located at the south side of the national park, it is a big cascading waterfall with 19 tiers right next to the HQ area. It is one of the major attractions of Nakhon Si Thammarat and most easily accessible one. Only first seven of the tiers are open for public and easily accessible by a 7 km long trail. Some ponds the falls flowing into are suitable for swimming. The 7th tier is the most impressive one with a large rock pool.
Krung Ching Waterfall
Krung Ching is a several tiered waterfall with highest one at 100 metres, one of the most impressive waterfalls of South Thailand. Located at the northern side of the national park in Nop Phi Tam District, it is 100 km from the headquarters area and about 75 km from Nakhon Si Thammarat town center. The falls are accessible by a easy to moderate hiking from a 3.7 km long clear trail starting at the visitor center area. Visitors are recommended to start hiking early, at least 3-4 small bottles of water per person needed.
There is a visitor center with a camping ground at Krung Ching, tents available for rent from 250 Baht per day, bungalows for rent from 600 Baht up. There are no restaurants at the visitor center area as some websites are claiming, but the rangers will call and order food from a nearby village if needed. Unless you speak some basic Thai, good luck explaining what food to order. :)
There are no public services to get there, a private transportation needed.
The 1.7 km long Hong Cave is around 7.5 km from the visitor center, see further below.
Tha Phae Waterfall
Located another 6 km further west from headquarters junction along the highway 4015, it is a 10 tiered waterfall. 3 of the tiers are easily accessible.
Phrom Lok Waterfall and Ai Khiao Waterfall
Located at east side of the national park in Phrom Khiri District, only some 25 km from Nakhon Si Thammarat town center. The falls are around 4 km apart. Both waterfalls can be reached by songtaews from Nakhon Si Thammarat to Phrom Khiri.
While Phrom Lok Waterfall have 50 tiers which only first four accessible and open for visitors, Ai Khiao has around 100 tiers with only first nine accessible and open for visitors.
Only 7.5 km from Krung Ching Waterfall, it is a 1.7 km long cave. There is a visitor center there, rangers available to walk the cave with guests. There are several hiking trails around.
Kaeo Surakan Cave
3 km east from the park headquarters along the highway 4015, very near the road and signposted well. It is a 731 m long cave, the entrance is spacious and 10 meters wide.
Located in central parts of the park in Lansaka District, it is the tallest mountain in south Thailand at 1835 meters above the sea level. It is possible to hike to the summit with park rangers, overnight stay required and the whole trip will take 2 nights. The trail starts from Ban Khiri Wong village from southeast where local guides are also available to hike with. Hiking is possible between January and September.
- 075 300 494 (Main Visitor Center)
- 075 460 463 (Kring Ching Visitor Center)
You are recommended to ask a Thai speaking person to call on your behalf.