Mt Khao Laem
Elevation gain - Approximately 800m
Elevation - Approximately 1110m
Trail length - Approximately 8-10 km
Time required - 1-3 hrs for ascent & 1-2 hrs for decent
Rope - There is rope in the most steepest section
Difficulty & Danger - Medium. One baby speckled coral snake seen.
Entry to trail coordinates - 13°32'58.1"N 99°13'55.4"E
Water intake - 2 litres per person & take a snack
Mt Khao Laem lies in the west of Ratchaburi province which is in the west of the Kingdom of Thailand. It lies a small distance away from the border with Myanmar and is part of the Tenasserim mountain range.
There is so far only one proven route that I know of and this starts behind a small village. We tried a second route but to no avail, please click her for that post.
The hike starts behind a small rural village. There is a small parking area and a toilet but you can only get there with a truck. If you don't have a truck just park somewhere in the main village and walk to the trail entrance .
The villagers are friendly and talkative, there are also many friendly dogs hanging around the village. Some seem to always go up the mountain with the first hikers of the day. The trail starts with a steep but short climb and then a winding ledge trail through jungle with a couple of bamboo bridges laid out over small gaps in the trail.
There will then be a turning onto a steep trail on your right, take this turning. This will take you through some jungle, winding round, up and down and then across a small stream. We went at the start of May, so there wasn't much water. Once you have crossed the stream, the next km is fairly steep through some beautiful bamboo.
You will then flatten out again, hike through another ledge and cross another stream. Once again you will find yourself going vertical for another 2/3 km. You will move from bamboo forest into higher altitude flora. The air will also get cooler which helps with the dehydration as there is less humidity the higher you get. You will start to get some views in this section.
After this fairly grueling section, you come to a small 200 m flat stretch where there is some evidence of camping. You then start the final stretch which is between 0.5 and 1 km long and fairly steep. This section has less flora coverage from the sun so i suggest you where sun cream for this hike. There can be a lot of dead leaves on the ground which makes it a little slippery on the decent.
Once you reach the peak just follow the trail down and up to a clearing with large rocks and one particular striking tall solemn tree. You will get a sweeping view looking over towards Myanmar. The images below are from two separate summits.
A great short hike which is quite tough in hot conditions. I would suggest staying the night in the area and starting at first light. The upper section, although cooler, is quite exposed. There are some areas of shade on the summit to chill out and enjoy the view. The descent can be quite hazardous because of the dead leaves and steep sections, be sure to use the ropes. This is black ant territory and although slow and painless to bite, they are everywhere. We saw multiple lizards, worms, bugs, spiders and one baby speckled coral snake which are possibly poisonous but not aggressive at all. Please do not try and pick up any snake or spider in Thailand. Please also beware that this is tiger country.
Below are some pictures of the animals, plants and those crazy but cute village dogs. Have fun!