About Khao Phanom Bencha
Khao Phanom Bencha National Park is a small national park, covering about 50 km² of area between Maung, Ao Luek and Khao Phanom districts north of Krabi. The park is a popular destination for it's waterfalls, caves and trails through montane forests. The park is located right at the northern edge of Krabi City, but the main visitor center area is around 27 km from the city at the east side of the park.
The visitor center area is the accesspoint to two waterfalls and two circular trails and a cave. There is a restaurant with very good food compared to many other national parks, a parking space and a very small camping ground right next to the visitor center.
The park is named after Khao Phanom Bencha which is a mountain at 1,397 meters asl.
The park staff claims that there are still tapirs in the park, there is even a camera trap photo of one at the visitor center. National park authorities and number of websites mentions number of mammal species presence in the park such as leopard, clouded leopard, asiatic black bear, Sumatran serow, mouse deer, dholes, wild boar, white-handed gibbon, stump-tailed macaque. Though, we have doubts that tapirs, leopards, clouded leopards, dholes and Asiatic bears are still found in the park, these could be based on historical information. Generally mammal sightings are quite rare apart from primate sightings. The park is also home to couple of hundred different bird species and many interesting reptile species, the very rare Gurney’s Pitta said to be found in the park.
Some tour operators advertises signthing of mammals on their tours, this should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Get there & stay
There are no public transportation options into the park. Visitors are recommended to rent a car/scooter or take a taxi. The most straight forward way to get there is to follow route 411 out from Krabi Center north, turn right on highway 4 and after less than a kilometer turn left to route 1016. Once on route 1016 just follow the signs to the park until you reach the checkpoint. The easiest is of course to enter the checkpoint coordinates on a mobile map app and follow the route; 8.240596, 98.913639.
There are tents available for rent from 225 THB for 3 people tent or 810 THB for 8 people tent. Sleeping sets costs 60 THB per person. There are no proper showers in the bathrooms, but there is a big bassin with bowls to take a bath from the old way. The small designated camping area has mostly sandy ground, partly grass, there are no pavilions to set the tents under on rainy days like in some other parks.
There are few bungalows available for rent with fan or a/c; fan alternative for 2 people 600 THB, fan alternative for 4 people 1,200 THB, a/c alternative for 2 people 1,000 THB, a/c alternative for 4 people 2,000 THB. 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.
The entrance fees for foreigners are 100 THB for adults and 50 THB for children, cars to be charged with 30 THB.
Opening times are 8:30am to 4:30 pm daily and all year round including holidays.
Despite disrecommendations many tourists visits various elephant farms around the park (outside the park boundaries). Elephants are abused hard "behind the doors" or openly, chained long hours, distressed, and yet, these businesses claims that the elephants are treated well.
There are still thousands wild elephants in various national parks in Thailand, many elephant families poached to death so that the calves can be taken away and trained for this dirty business. Please avoice such places, there is nothing ethical about visiting any place with animals in captivity.
Please google "elephant crushing Thailand" on YouTube to see various videos about this subject.
Attractions of Khao Phanom Bencha
Huai To Falls
It is the main attraction of the park, a falls with 5 major and several other smaller tiers/ponds cascading over 80 meters. The tiers are accessible by a short stroll of about 500 meters from the visitor center. The first few tiers are relatively easily accessible, then the trail leading all way up to last tier and beyong gets gradually steep and difficult to walk. It is possible to swim at one of many ponds.
The trail continues uphill for few kilometers in different directions to a viewpoint and eventually leads back to the camp on circular paths.
Huai Sakhe Falls
A 3-tiered waterfall accessible by a couple of hundred meters trail starting from behind the restaurant. An impressive big tree with gigantic roots can be seen on the trail to this falls.
Khao Pheung Cave
A spacious cave with stalagmites and stalactites, located less than 2 km south/west from the visitor center, administratively outside the park. The cave has two side by side entrances not too far apart, has many bigger and smaller chambers. Following the signs in the cave will lead through chambers and out from the 2nd exit. Bats, frogs and geckos can be found in the cave.
The cave is accessible by a short steep/rocky trail couple of hundred meters up. The trail is not suitable for kids or anyone who is not fit to climb.
Guides normally waits at the ground level, can be hired for 500 Baht, they can also take visitors to the other caves higer up on the same mountain.
There are two major trails, both circular; one is called Dogslide Trail, the other Nature Trail. Both trails starts next to the visitor center, same trail as to the waterfalls and split in two opposite directions about 1.5 km into the trail at around 340 meters asl. The longer into the trail the steeper and more difficult it gets. Only very fit people are recommended to walk these trails. Hikers are recommended to take at least 2 or 3 bottles water with them.
According to the information at the visitor center, the Dogslide Trail is 2 km, but in fact it is 2.4 km, with a side trail to a viewpoint included, total 2.7 km.
The Nature Trail is 2.9 km long with highest elevation at around 540 meters asl.
061 232 4901 (Visitor Center)
You are recommended to ask a Thai speaking person to call on your behalf.