Khao Phanom Bencha National Park

About Khao Phanom Bencha

Khao Phanom Bencha National Park is one of the smallest parks in the country, covering about 50 km² of area between Maung, Ao Luek and Khao Phanom districts of Krabi Province. The park is a popular destination for its waterfalls, caves and trails through montane forests.

The main visitor center area is around 27 km from Krabi Town at the east side of the park. The visitor center area is the access point to two waterfalls, two circular trails and a cave. There is a restaurant with, 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.

Big Tree at visitor center area

Wildlife

The park staff claims that there are still tapirs in the park, there is even an old 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 leopards, clouded leopards, asiatic black bears, Sumatran serow, mouse deer, dholes, wild boars, white-handed gibbons, stump-tailed macaques. 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.

Some tour operators advertise sightings of mammals on their tours, it should be taken with a pinch of salt.

There are around 120 bird species recorded from Khao Phanom Bencha National Park. The very rare Gurney’s Pitta is said to be found in the park but likely extirpated. White-crowned hornbills, barred eagle-owls, fluffy-backed tit-babblers, black-throated babblers, scaly-breasted bulbuls, spectacled spiderhunters, rufous-winged philentomas, red-crowned barbets and grey-and-buff woodpeckers are reposted from the park.

Visiting

There are no public transportation options into the park. Visitors are recommended to rent a car/scooter or take a taxi. The most straightforward 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 in a navigator app and follow the route;

8.24059, 98.91363

Entrance fees & opening times

The entrance fees are 100 Baht for foreigners (50 Baht for children) and 20 Baht for Thai citizens (children 10 Baht). Cars to be charged with 30 Baht.

Khao Phanom Bencha National Park's opening times are 8:30 am to 4:30 pm daily but the park will be closed from 16th May until 31st July every year.

Stay & eat

Park accommodations

There are few accommodation options available for rent with fan or a/c;

  • 2 pax room with fan, 600 Baht
  • 4 pax room with fan, 1,200 Baht
  • 2 pax room with a/c, 1,000 Baht
  • 4 pax room with a/c 2,000 Baht

A significant discount will apply when booked for Mon-Thu. The rooms can be booked through the DNP website in advance. As the money transfer must be done within 2 days and the fact it takes a longer time with transfers from abroad, it is only possible to book from within Thailand only. Payments can be done at 7-Eleven convenience stores or banks.

Camping

There are tents available for rent from the visitor center; 225 Baht for a 3 pax tent or 810 Baht for a 8 pax tent. Sleeping sets cost 60 Baht per person, including mat, a sleeping bed and a pillow.

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.

At the campsite there are no proper showers in the bathrooms, but there is a big bassin with bowls to take a bath from.

Eat

There is a restaurant in the visitor center area of the park. The restaurant is very good when compared to restaurants in other national parks.

Ethical issues

Despite the ethical concerns, many tourists visit various elephant farms around the park right outside the park boundaries. Elephants are abused hard "behind the doors" or openly, chained long hours, distressed, and yet, these businesses claim that the elephants are treated well.

There are still thousands of wild elephants in various national parks in Southeast Asia, many elephant families poached to death so that the calves can be taken away and trained for this dirty business. Please avoid such places, there is nothing ethical about visiting any place with animals in captivity. Do not believe the tour operators or various websites claim that the elephants are treated well.

Please google "elephant crushing Thailand" on YouTube to see various videos about this subject.

Phone(s)

You are recommended to ask a Thai speaking person to call on your behalf.

075 855 216 (Visitor Center)

The 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 the way up to the last tier and beyond gets gradually steep and difficult to walk. It is possible to swim at some ponds.

Huai To Waterfall

The trail continues uphill for a few kilometers in different directions to a viewpoint and eventually leads back to the camp via a  circular path.

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, and 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 a couple of hundred meters up. The trail is not suitable for kids or anyone who is not fit to climb.

Guides normally wait at the ground level, can be hired for 500 Baht, they can also take visitors to the other caves higher up on the same mountain.

Trails

There are two major trails, both circular; one is called Dogslide Trail, the other Nature Trail. Both trails start 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 of water with them.

According to the information at the visitor center, a trail called “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, reaching an altitude of around 540 meters asl.