About Sai Yok
Covering 958 km² in Sai Yok District of Kanchanaburi Province 100 km northwest of Kanchanaburi City, Sai Yok National Park is part of the Western Forex Complex that covers 18,730 km² and comprises 19 protected sites between Myanmar and Thailand. The park is a popular destination for local and foreign tourists, known for it's waterfalls, caves, historical sites and raft houses along the River Kwai.
The mountainous regions of the park are covered by deciduous and dry evergreen forest, mainly mixed with bamboo. The lower areas along the Kwae River are teak forest which was deforested during Japanese occupation of Thailand but later replanted in 1954. The highest elevation in the park is 1,328 meters at the border to Myanmar.
Mammal species found in the park include elephant, gibbon, macaque species, Malayan porcupine, slow loris, serow, barking deer, sambar deer, wild boar and many more. There may also be a smaller tiger population in the park.
There are two mammal species in Thailand argued to be the world’s smallest ones. One of them is a rare species of a bat called Kitti's hog-nosed bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai), it can be found in a limestone cave on a convenient walking distance from the visitor centre in Sai Yok. It is named after Kitti Thonglongya who found it for first time in 1973. These bats are weighing around 2 grams, have 2.5-3 cm body length and up to 10 cm wing-span.
Another quite unique and interesting species found in the park is a colorful queen crab (translated from Thai Poo Rachinee) species in red, white and blue. It was discovered in 1983.
Chances to see some of the interesting animals around the visitor centre area is quite rare because the area is quite commercialised. Water monitors and barking deer are the only interesting animals that can be seen along the river with a bit of luck. Most of the interesting animals hold to more remote areas along the border to Myanmar.
The visitor centre area is found at the northeast edge of the park 19 km north of Hellfire Pass. The entrance fee is 300 THB for adults and 200 THB for children. The attractions around the visitor centre are not really impressive, smaller waterfalls, smaller caves. But, while many of the major and popular national parks in Thailand requires guides to walk most trails, Sai Yok National Park has couple of well-maintained trails with clear signs that visitors are allowed to walk on their own. One of more recommended activities is a visit to Dao Daung Cave, accessible by long-tail boat trip 6 km north along the river and hiking 1.5 km uphill.
There are bungalows and raft houses in the park, also tents available for rent at the visitor centre (see attractions section further below for more details). Few shorter trails lead to various attraction and historic spots.
The park has three seasons; The rainy season is May to October, this is when the waterfalls are most impressive and forests are lush. The cool season is November to February with heavy fog and cold weather. December to February is the driest time of the year, the water levels in the rivers and waterfalls are still good. The hot season is March to May, less but much clearer water on waterfalls. The annual average temperature is around 15-30 °C.
Find further below more details about the main attractions of the park. For details about how to get there with public or private transportation please visit "Get there & Stay" section from sub navigation. Like in many other popular parks, Sai Yok National Park will get very busy during the week-end and holidays.
Attractions of Sai Yok
Campsite & Visitor centre
The visitor centre is situated 100 km northwest from Kanchanaburi, 19 km north of Hellfire Pass and 3 km from the highway 323 next to the Kwae Noi River. The visitor centre area has a campsite, bungalows, private raft houses, food stalls, restaurants, floating restaurants and number of attractions easily accessible by short hiking.
The bungalows are available for booking through DNP website only. While some of the bungalows are few hundred meters away from the premises, a group of bungalows are couple of kilometres away, so check at DNP website which bungalows you are about to book. There are few private raft houses along the river with better quality of stay and better view than bungalows.
The campsite is spacious, tents and accessories available for rent at the visitor centre from 270 Baht a day. It costs 30 Baht a day to use your own tent on campground.
There are few shorter trails up to 2 km around the visitor centre area leading to caves, remains of the Death Railway Bridge, natural spring, riverside viewpoints and waterfalls. There is no guide requirement to walk the short trails.
Kwae Noi River
Kwae Noi is a tributary river to the River Kwai, the main river that runs through the national park on the eastern end of the park. There are several raft houses along the river with good view over the park, these raft houses are one of popular attractions of Kanchanaburi Province. It is possible to hire a long-tail boat for around 400 Baht per half-hour for a trip along the river.
Sai Yok Yai and Sai Yok Lek Waterfalls
Two smaller falls that flows into Kwae Noi River from tributiry streams. Sai Yok Yai is right next to the suspension bridge near the visitor centre area, Sai Yok Lek is 300 meters further down-streams. There are viewpoints at the opposite side of each waterfall with relatively good view over them, both accessible by a short stroll on the other side of the suspension bridge. The water flow is best during the rainy season from June/July forward.
Both falls are beautiful but the beauty and size of them are too exaggerated on various web-sites causing some foreign tourists visiting the park get disappointed.
Sai Yok Noi Waterfall
This limestone waterfall is right outside the national park boundaries, only couple of kilometres north of Nam Tok Railway Station (Nam tok in Thai means waterfall) which is the end station of the historic "Death Railway" line.
Originated from a spring the waterfall flows through forest and cascading over limestone rocks. It is much taller than Sai Yok Yai and Sai Tok Lek Waterfalls, but with less water and no doubt more tourist friendly and more beautiful. The best time of the year to visit is during the rainy season from June/July onwards. The water flow will be less during the dry season but still worth visit it.
There is regular bus service from Kanchanaburi from 6:45 am until 6 pm, the trip takes about 2 hours. It is also possible to take train from Kanchanaburi for 17 Baht at 6:11 am, 11:00 am and 4:37 pm, return at 5:25 am 1:00 pm and 3:15 pm. There are plenty of restaurant and shops along the road.
Saio Yok National Park has many caves, only in immediate adjacent of the visitor centre there are 4 smaller caves. Please remember to have a flash-light with you to visit the caves.
Dao Wadung Cave
A 100 meters deep cave discovered in 1972, accessible by long-tail boat trip 6 km north from the visitor centre along the river and hiking 1.5 km uphill on west side. This cave has 8 chambers consists of rock, stalagmite and stalactite formations. Bat species seen streaming out of this cave before sunset during rainy and cold seasons.
Kang Kao Cave
Accessible by short stroll on a 2 km long trail from the visitor centre area. This is the cave where one of world's smallest mammal species, the very rare Kitti's hog-nosed bat can be found. This species weighing around 2 grams has a body length around 2.5-3 cm and a wing-span up to 10 cm. The trail to this cave also passes by foundation of Death Railway Bridge.
Wang Badan Cave
A small two storey cave, 500m deep located on Erawan National Park, accessible from Sai Yok Noi Waterfall area. There is a clear sign pointing the direction behind the waterfall, the trail is 3km long. The upper level has chambers with beautiful stalagmites and stalactites. There is a water stream running through the last chamber.
One of more impressive caves in the national park, 500 meters deep with small entrance but with huge chambers containing large stalactites and stalagmites. This cave is on the west side of the river, easily accessible from a nearby raft house or by long-tail boats from other raft houses along the river. To get there with car, use a bridge nearby rail station 20km south and follow the signs.
Species photos of Sai Yok National Park
- 034 686 024 (Visitor Center)
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