Khao Chamao-Khao Wong National park is in Rayong province which is about 200km east of Bangkok or 120km east of Pattaya. The national park has a tall mountain range running through its centre which we were told is hiked once a week by the park rangers to check on the wildlife. They said they would be happy to take me if I wanted, it would be a 3 night hike to complete the route and it is definitely something I will do in the near future. The park rangers are awesome people who love nature and they really do their best to protect the animals from poaching. The three major attractions of the park Khao Chamao Waterfall, Klong Pla Kang Waterfall and Khao Wong Cave.
Entrance fees for foreigners are 200baht for adult and 100baht for under 14's. Entrance fees for Thai nationals are 40baht for adults and 20baht for under 14's and students. There is a climbing charge for the size of vehicle brought in and a 30baht tent pitch fee. The entrance fee will give you access to all facilities and attractions. If you plan on making national parks a habit, then you should buy (100baht) a Thai national park stamp book at any national park information office or you can order one online. This is quite a fun thing to do especially if you have kids. Every national park you go to has its own section in the book and there will be a stamp in the national park information office.
The entrance area is vast with an information centre with medical room, multiple toilets with shower facilities, disabled toilets, parking, animal and conservation exhibition, camping area, national park style lodges and a few shops selling basic goods and snacks. The road leading up to the entrance has multiple restaurants for which to choose from, we had lunch there and it was about 370baht for three people; a little overpriced but the quality of the food was really good. The nearest 7/11 is about 8km north opposite Khao Chamao district hospital. As far as national parks go, this is at the well kept end and is definitely a great place to camp. Alternatively you can camp at Klong Pla Kang Waterfall just up the road which is a smaller area but seems to be less busy.
Khao Chamao Waterfall
Khao Chamao waterfall is located in the parks main area and is made up of 8 levels. At the time of review only 7 levels were open to the public. The length of the waterfall hike is roughly 1.6km with quite a climb up into the mountains; It took us about 3hrs to go up and down but obviously I was taking a lot of photos and and information . I do not feel that there are any particularly hard sections and there are some rope barrier panels at the sections with sheer drops and some ropes and pipe handrails to help you in the tough spots. If you find it is too much, then you can simply just turn back and go and enjoy the levels that you have already passed. We had a high volume of water that day and you get a nice Icey breeze from the waterfalls although it is quite humid in the jungle. Waterfalls in Thailand can be hit and miss if you do not call ahead to ask if there is lots of water. Mosquito levels were low that day but always spray and prepare for any hike or waterfall. We did see one sign warning us of pit vipers but I am sure during a busy day there is little to no risk of them being around.
In general Khao Chamao is a beautiful waterfall and the hike up the levels is both challenging and rewarding. With a high volume of water, you can really get some great pictures and there is a great atmosphere of serenity. I would advice starting at about 8.30am so you can have the levels to yourself but if you go during the week you will most probably have this anyway. The trail is mostly covered by flora so sun is not an issue. Take a bottle of water but I am afraid you are not allowed to take food past the initial area; this is probably done with regards to monkeys. Below are a few pictures of the levels and trail.
Klong Pla Kang Waterfall
Khlong Pla Kang waterfall is just 5km away from the main area. It has toilet with shower facilities, it's own smaller information centre and a camping area. You can also buy the ticket here for the national park; once you have paid the vehicle fee in one area, you will not have to pay it in another.
This waterfall has 7 levels but is a lot shorter at only 1km and should take you between an hour or two depending on how much time you spend taking pictures and exploring. The trail is also a lot easier and less steep than Khao Chamao waterfall with the exception of the 7th level which is quite tough but has some rope to help you.
At the time of review the water volume was high and the waterfalls are really spectacular. The park ranger at the main area advised us to also hike this waterfall as it was always quieter and slightly more relaxed. At most waterfalls there are always signs at each level but I find it fun to head down little trails in-between the levels where you can have a little more privacy and explore walking along the rocks and not just the trail. The trail is definitely quieter and more secluded than Khao Chamao; there were many Golden Orb Web Spiders over the trails.
Khao Wong Cave
Khao Wong Cave is actually outside the main national park area, to the east about 20km from Khao Chamao Waterfall. Entrance is actually free even if you haven't bought the main ticket for the national park. There is a small information centre, toilet facilities and a small pretty stream running through the entry area with monkeys along the route.
There are 11 caves in total dotted around a large cliff with a small climb up some steps fashioned into the rock. At the time of review the place felt quite deserted; there appeared to be someone in the office but he seemed reluctant to come out. The bridge over the stream and the walk to the stairs is pleasant with some monkeys just hanging around, please never feed the monkeys as these can lead to future confrontation with other visitors. The stairs and pipe handrails are old with some loose rocks and crumbling sections. It has quite a spooky abandoned feel to it with moss and old discolored rotten wooden stairs. There is a small shrine when you get to the first entrance and then some further wooden steps down into the first cave.
You basically follow a pretty obvious routes thought the first cave and you will get to an opening where there is a further smaller cave and then trails heading off in either direction around the edge of the mountain. It was very muddy the day I went and stupidly we were both wearing flipflops which made walking almost impossible. We had already spent 4hrs hiking a mountain on the way so we were quite tired and only did half a dozen of the caves. To be totally honest they are nothing special and I think the abandoned secluded atmosphere is more inspiring to the senses than anything else. Still if you are near I would definitely pop in and at least just get some exercise.
I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty of this national park and the quality of the waterfalls. We were obviously lucky because Thailand had just had 10days of heavy rain, so the volume of water was excellent. We were able to complete the caves and both waterfalls in a day and that was with a stop for lunch and obviously a lot of research for this article. I think the surrounding area is really beautiful with many small mountains dotted around the place; the sea is only about 30mins away as well and there are plenty of hotels dotted around the area.
I would definitely say if you are in Pattaya and are bored of the stupid bars and clubs, head to this national park for a bit of fun and natural healing. They have tents for rent at 225baht per night which will sleep 4 people and cabins for 1200baht per night that will sleep 4 people. In the first set of pictures there is a full price and spec list but unfortunately it is in Thai. It is only an 1hr or so from Pattaya and almost 3hrs from Bangkok, so it is possible to do day trips or over night trips and could be done on the way to Koh Chang. We came from Bangkok and stopped for a hike along the way at Kao Wat Pa Bo Thong Hike which I will talk about in another article.