About Tham Pha Tha Phon
Tham Pha Tha Phon Non-Hunting Area is a very small, about 3 km² protected park in Noen Maprang District of Phitsanulok Province, about 44 km from Phichit and 84 km from Phitsanulok City. The park consists of limestone karsts with the highest peak at around 240 meters asl. It is popular for it’s at least 11 major caves.
Despite its small size, it is home to some significant wildlife. Assamese macaques may be one of the commonest monkey species in Asia and parts of Southeast Asia, but they are quite rare in Thailand. Tham Pha Tha Phon Non-Hunting Area is possibly the easiest place in the country to find them. They are often found on the trees or cliffs around the headquarters, sometimes they are a bit higher up on the limestone karsts or elsewhere in the park.
In some of the caves 360 million years old small fossils of sea creatures can be found.
Several of the caves are home to an important population of wrinkle-lipped free-tailed bats (Chaerephon plicata) and black-bearded tomb bats (Taphozous melanopogon). The visitors can watch hundreds of thousands of bats emerging from the caves every evening around sunset.
Most of the snake species found in the area can be found around the park. Cave racers are relatively common in the caves while king cobras and Siamese spitting cobras have been spotted in the park.
The headquarters of the park is on the west side, signposted well. Entrance to the park is free for both locals and foreigners.
There are no public transportation options to get there. It is possible to get to most attractions by a regular car or motorcycle, but the central/north parts of the park which is a circular flat area may need a 4WD to get around during the rainy seasons as the roads in that area are dirt roads.
The attractions of Tham Pha Tha Phon
It is a 364 meters long cave named after King Naresuan The Great as one one of the stalactites inside is said to resemble the king’s hat. The entrance is quite narrow, due to low oxygen inside the cave only a limited number of people are allowed inside the cave at any time.
Right before the barrier of the park entrance a track on the right hand side leads to the cave entrance.
Tham Pha Daeng
Named after the red cliff above the entrance, it is a 105 meters long cave on the east side of the inner reserve surrounded by the limestone karsts about 1.3 km from the park entrance. The cave entrance is signposted well. Both bat species found in the park can be found in this cave.
It is a 1,408 meters long cave around 900 meters from the park entrance, signposted well. Ruea in Thai means boat and the name refers to the ceiling resembling an upside-down turned boat in one of the chambers. Two streams flow through the ridge to a common resurgence into the cave. The cave may get closed during the rainy seasons.
It is a 228 meters long cave with two entrances with one entrance just a few hundreds meters north from Tham Ruea. Both entrances are signposted well, one from the road on the east side of the park, the other from inside the reserve. The east entrance is reached by walking through Wat Tham Thong (temple) grounds. The west entrance has a raised walkway over a stream and big boulders.