About Khao Sam Roi Yot
Located in coast of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, it is the first marine national park of Thailand. Khao Sam Roi Yot means "The mountain with three hundred peaks" and refers to a series of limestone hills along the Gulf of Thailand with highest one at 605m above the sea level. The northwest corner of the mountain range is called Thung Sam Roi Yot and is mainly freshwater marsh covering nearly 37% of the national park which makes it the largest wetlands area in Thailand.
The main attractions of the national park are Phraya Nakhon Cave with it's iconic royal pavilion and huge chambers, Kaeo Cave and Thung Sam Roi Yot Freshwater Marsh. The park is also an attractive destination for it's rich wildlife in mangrove forests, beautiful beaches, limestone islands, trails and view points. It is easily acessible, only 60 km south from Hua Hin and nearly 3 hours from Bangkok.
Khao Sam Roi Yot is home to a great diversity of bird species making it another great destination for birders with estimated around 300 species, half of them migratory birds. It is one of the best places in Thailand to see waterbirds on the flight path between Asia and Australia around January/February. Purple swamphen, Malayan plover, Kentish plover, white-bellied sea eagle, greater spotted eagle, oriental hobby, eastern marsh harrier, spoon-billed sandpiper are few of the birds common in the park.
The inaccessible forest areas on the mountains are home to some mammals such as dusky leaf monkey, crab-eating macaque, Malayan porcupine, mainland serow, slow loris, barking deer, fishing cat and Malayan pangolin. Dolphins are regularly seen on the coastline, although not guaranteed there is a good chance to spot some by boat trips that can be arranged form most hotels. Occationally Irrawaddy dolphins shows up near the coast.
Most of the park in non forested areas have no closure time, it is possible to drive through the park any time of the day, but nearly all major attractions has opening times from 8 am until 4:30 pm.
The main visitor center, headquarters and some attractions are situated on the south side of the national park. The entrance fee is 200B for adults and 100 Baht for children and to be paid only once when any of the main attractions visited.
Tents are available for rent at both Laem Sala Beach and Sam Phraya Beach from 150 Baht for 2 people, 225 Baht for 3 people and 300 Baht for 4 people. Accessories can be rent per person; pillow 10 Baht, blanket 10 Baht, sleeping bag 30 Baht, sheet 20 Baht.
There are only two bungalows available for rent near the headquarters, one is for 1,000 Baht for 5 people, the other is 1,400 Baht for 5 people, a significant discount will apply when booked for Mon-Thu. See further below for bungalow options at Laem Sala Beach. 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.
(All price mentioned above updated on April 2018)
Attractions of Khao Sam Roi Yot
Located on south side of the national park, it is in a convinient distance to most of main attractions of the park. There are few smaller trails around the HQ, a watchtower and bacis facilities.
The campsite next to the HQ is closed permanently due to long-tailed macaques tearing apart tent doors, getting in and damaging personal belonging of campers in search for food. Visitors are advised to other two campsites on nearby beaches listed below. Apart from the trail up to Khao Daeng Viewpoint 700m away, all other trails up to the maountains north from HQ are closed permanently due to security reasons.
Khao Daeng Viewpoint
157 m high and approximately 700 meters from the headquarters on an isolated limestone hill with 360° clear visibility over the surrounding valley and mountains. Long-tailed macaques and birds are very common in the area. There is a parking space where the trail starts uphill. The trail is rocky all the way up and quite steep, if not fit elderly people should perhaps avoid.
The tail up to the viewpoint is clear, no risk of getting lost, but is is very rocky.
Khao Daeng Canal
Boat tours through mangrove forests are operating in Ban Khao Daeng village approximately 1.5 km from the HQ. Best time for the tour is around sunset and it takes about one hour that offers beautiful views over the valley and through limestone hills rising around, it is ideal for water activities and birders. A boat tour costs 500 Baht per group, can only be arranged at spot.
Laem Sala Beach & Campsite
A km wide and shallow white beach 16 km north east of the headquarters, accessible only by a 350 m trail over a hill or by boat, takes around 20-25 minutes to reach by foot. It is also possible to take a boat the sea way for 400 Baht (max 6 people) for a round trip.
The beach area has a smaller visitor center, a restaurant, bungalows, a camping ground and showers/toilets. There is also a nice viewpoint from a hill at the north end of the beach. The main attraction of the national park, Phraya Nakhon Cave is accessible by a short trail from this beach (see below).
There are few bungalows for rent; 1,600 Baht for 6 people, 2,000 Baht for 8 people and 2,200 for 9 people. These bungalows must be booked in advance via DNP website. Tents are available for rent from 150 Baht, it costs additionally 30 Baht for tent space and there are additional tent accessories for rent from 50 Baht.
Phraya Nakhon Cave
Being the main attraction of the national park, this cave consists of two sinkholes. There is a four-gable roofed royal pavillion called Phra Thinang Khuha Kharuhat, build in 1890 for King Rama V's visits. This pavillion became the symbol of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province. During certain hours of the day, when the sunlight shines from a certain angle, the sinkhole opening illuminates a nice tone of light over the pavillion, creating a spectacular view.
It is accessible from the Laem Sala beach by a 430m long steep trail on an elevation of 130m. The trail may be slippery during wet seasons.
Thung Sam Roi Yot Freshwater Marsh
Located on northwest corner of the national park, it is the largest freshwater marsh in Thailand, home to many species of waterbirds, songbirds, amphibians and various wetland species. The marsh is registered as Ramsar site by Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for recognition of important wetlands. The view of the mountains that is seen in many photos, the best in national park are taken in Thung Sam Roi Yot.
There is a smaller camping ground near the visitor center but there are no tents available for rent, visitors who wish to camp need to bring their own tents. There are also few bungalows for park employees, these may become available for rent when not in use by employers, from as cheap as 300B per night.
Boardwalk over marsh area
Warning: The board walk over the fresh water marsh is closed for visitors. It is rapidly falling apart, no repair planned any time soon.
There is a 1 km long wooden boardwalk over the marsh area next to the visitor center, with great view over surroundings. Many bird species, specially the purple swamphen can be seen around.
Accessible by a 250m long trail from the nearby road, this impressive cave with few huge chambers is situated 16 km from the headquarters towards the Bang Pu village. It consists of stalactites and stalagmites with very rocky surface which makes walking a bit challenging. The cave has two entrances and takes approximately 20-25 minutes to walk through from one entrance to the other. Bats can be seen hanging from top and with a bit luck Asian forest scorpions may be spotted.
Mandatory guides from park offices needed to visit this cave.
A cave consists of stalactites and stalagmites. It is accessible by a 300m long trail from the road on the coast line, approximately 9km north east from the headquarters. There are torches available for rent during the week-days but the cave is light up for free due to high amount of visits from local tourists on week-ends.
Sam Phraya Beach & Campsite
A beach a bit over 5 km north east from the headquarters lined with pine trees. There are no accomodation options in and around the beach, but there is a campsite on the beach with basic facilities. Three-person tents are available for rent for 210B.
There is a proper restaurant open 7am to 9pm Monday to Friday and open until 10pm during the busy week-ends.
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