Firstly we happened upon this oasis of culture and mystery when our planned filming location was closed until later in the rainy season. This had actually wasted some fairly amateur footage I had recorded the previous day in the run-up to us filming. So we found ourselves u-turning in anger at the recently installed road block and wondering what to do next.
We stopped at the first coffee shop we passed to cool down our tempers and figure out what to do next. I opened google maps and the first place I saw was Ka Ang Waterfall. I thought we may as well because it was only 10mins drive from the coffee shop. I could see there was a temple there and some sort of village with some leading trails that seemed to disappear into the jungle.
We arrived and parked our car, got geared up and headed down to Ka Ang Waterfall. A fairly unremarkable man-made waterfall which although may be nice for a cool down during peak rainy season, it wasn't what we were looking for. We had a closer look at the map and saw there was a standing rock called Khao Hao Muak. Like a lot of Thai words, they really don't mess around with the translation; Khao Hao Muak literally translated means khao - mountain hao - head muak - cap. mountain head cap. The Thai language has this sort of wording a lot, for example, the word for fan is pad - blow lom - wind, blow wind.
Our excitement grew and we headed off into the jungle.
Khao Hao Muak - Mountain Head Cap
Starting from the car park, you head down to and over the bridge. You take the steepest middle road up the hill and walk past some homes. The villagers seemed nice but we all kept our distance with masks on and just gave a friendly wai and swat dee krap. I wouldn't advice driving a car or a motorbike as it is not really a public road. The first 30mins or so is on this 'road' used by the villagers and near the end through a clearing on the left, you will get a view of Khao Hao Muak. Half way down the road there were a couple of areas where you can camp for a fee, so something to keep in mind if you want to witness a beautiful sunset.
The way is sign posted so it is pretty easy to not get lost. There are only two turns and then you move into a jungle trail which is pretty much vertical the whole way. We went in May and started at about 7am, it was very hot and humid even for the morning; 95% humidity and about 35c, which, for morning is a joke. With the vertical climb this can be quite challenging. The jungle trail is about 30minutes at normal pace and is not too hard or dangerous, just be careful on the way down with the slippery leaves.
You will then come out to this, a stunning, secluded and unique view. A great place in the morning as you can sit in the shade of the jungle and admire the rock and the view. I have been told sunset is stunning and am looking forward to going back at some point to capture that moment. A worthwhile hike to a one of a kind view. Take 1.5ltr of water per person and a sugary snack. The humidity and heat can really mess with you if your not careful. Be safe and when hiking in Thailand, always plan for the worse.
Wat (Temple) SRI KA ANG COMPLEX
What lies in the hills opposite Khao Hao Muak is equally rewarding as it is interesting. The temple complex is set through hilly winding roads and is a great chance to take in some culture and a hike. There are also numerous small little jungle trails in and around each part of the complex. The temples seem to have been slightly neglected and we didn't see anyone else walking around.. To be honest, it kind of adds to the mystic of the place. The added benefit is the hike up to the large rocky viewpoint.
This is the view looking out towards the temples. Just follow the main road from the main temple and parking area. It will turn into a bit of a dirt road and then climb for a whole. It is not a difficult or dangerous hike but again take some water and a snack to fight off the effects of humidity. The viewpoint is the top of a large rock face and you can even camp here to get a stunning sunrise. They even have a toilet of some sorts and some large blue barrels filled with rain water i presume. I would definitely not use this for drinking but for a light splash to cool you down it should be fine, just use common sense and check there aren't any dead animals or signs of contamination. The view from up there is fantastic. You can see the whole valley including Khao Hao Muak and all the temples that you just walked to. We are definitely going to camp up there soon and investigate further as I am sure I could see further trails into the hills from my drone.
All in all a great little day out and definitely a savior for us that day. Only 2hours from Bangkok and completely free, you just cant go wrong. There is another small slightly easier hike down a jungle trail to a waterfall called Lad Dai Waterfall, it looks stunning but we felt due to there having been no rain all week in the area and seeing the level of water running through the village, it would be better to wait for another day. I hate going to a waterfall and there not being any water to swim in!
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