The Best & Most Beautiful Waterfalls in Thailand
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The Best & Most Beautiful Waterfalls in Thailand
Thailand is known for its beaches, markets, nightlife, and temples, but it's also a great destination for lovers of the natural world, not least because of its many stunning waterfalls.
You'll find waterfalls all over the country, both on the tourist trail and way off the beaten track. There's nothing quite like taking a dip in one to cool off after trekking through the sticky jungle, while in the rainy season, they are at their most powerful and photogenic. Here's a selection of some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Thailand.
This spectacular waterfall cuts through the rainforest of Erawan National Park, about 50 kilometres from the town of Kanchanaburi, west of Bangkok. Throughout the waterfall's seven levels there are blue-green pools, steep drops, and natural rock slides to explore. There's even a pool with fish that will nibble at your feet.
The falls can get busy, so arrive early. For more seclusion, follow the walking trail (wear sturdy footwear) to the upper tiers, where there are jungle views and fewer bathers. The falls are named after the 3-headed Hindu elephant god, which the top level is said to resemble.
Huai Mae Khamin
Like Erawan, 40 kilometres away, Huai Mae Khamin Waterfall consists of seven tiers. However, its more remote location means it receives fewer visitors, especially on weekdays.
There's more than a kilometre of cascades, with plenty of emerald pools to cool off in. You can also follow a boardwalk trail to the different levels, and take in views from the top over the nearby Srinagarind Reservoir, which was created by the damming of the River Kwai.
The surrounding forested mountains of the Khuean Srinagarindra National Park have many hiking trails, plus a campsite if you want to linger for a few days.
As well as going for a swim at the base of the falls, you can explore the surrounding Khlong Lan National Park. Set midway between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, the park is a great place to go trekking, with lush forest that's home to many bird species, plus other wildlife including sambar deer, wild pigs, and macaques.
Make sure you take your camera if you're visiting this waterfall in Doi Inthanon National Park, an hour from Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand. It's among the country's tallest falls, at about 260 metres in height, and is also one of the most stunning.
Part of its attraction comes from its sheer number of layers, with about 30 tiers breaking up the fall of the water. And if you visit in autumn, you'll see the red, yellow, and brown leaves of the surrounding forest framing the waterfall beautifully.
This small but pretty waterfall, about an hour from Phuket's capital, offers the chance to get away from the holiday island's crowds — it's surrounded by jungle, so you may well feel like you've escaped civilisation completely. It's also a great place to cool off from the heat, as there's a pool beneath the waterfall, where you can take a dip.
Bang Pae is also close to the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project, so you can combine the falls with a visit to the centre to find out about the work that takes place there to rehabilitate abused gibbons before they are released into the wild.
Namtok Ton Nga Chang
This waterfall is in thick jungle, about 30 minutes' drive from Hat Yai in southern Thailand. Water tumbles powerfully over seven levels, and has carved out plenty of places where you can find a quiet spot to sunbathe and swim. Some pools even contain fish.
The waterfall's name means elephant tusks in English — chang is Thai for elephant — and at level three, the stream splits into two, giving the appearance of two tusks. Bring good shoes if you want to hike up to the higher levels, as the path can be tricky above the third tier.
It's best to visit this waterfall on the island of Koh Lanta during the west coast's rainy season (June to September) if you want to see more than a trickle of water. But it's the setting as much as the waterfall itself that makes the trek through dense jungle worthwhile. The falls are surrounded by hanging vines, giant palm fronds, and tall trees — it's like a little piece of lost world.
There's also a nearby cave that's home to bats, plus there's a good chance of seeing wildlife including insects, lizards, snakes, and monkeys in the area.
The stunning limestone geology of the Thanon Thong Chai mountains in northern Thailand provides the setting for Koh Luang Waterfall.
Although there are seven layers to explore, the highlight of the falls is arguably at its base. There, the calcium carbonate content of the water has led to a distinctive overhang of stalactites where the water flows into a large blue-green pool, where you can swim. The surrounding Mae Ping National Park offers hiking trails and caves, and it's a popular destination for climbers, too.
Famous for appearing in the well-known film "The Beach", Haew Suwat in Khao Yai National Park is a beautiful waterfall that's popular with locals and tourists alike.
Clear water plunges over a 20-metre ledge into a large pool. There's a manmade viewing area, but for the best views and photos, climb down the trail to the edge of the pool. The falls are easy to reach, being less than two hours' drive from Bangkok, and you don't have to walk far from the parking lot and visitor facilities to get a good view.
Thi Lor Su Waterfall
Measuring about 300 metres in height, Thi Lor Su is one of the largest waterfalls in Thailand. This awesome waterfall consists of multiple tiers, with water tumbling down forested limestone cliffs and around islands of trees.
The falls are in the Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary in central west Thailand, close to the Myanmar border, and due to the long, winding journey there, are not really suitable for a day-trip. However, it's well worth spending a couple of days hiking, camping, and cooling off in the pools. The sanctuary has abundant wildlife, including clouded leopards, tapirs, falcons, macaques, tortoises, and pythons.
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Nick Elvin contributed to this post.