Beyond Thailand’s Beaches

Published on: June 13, 2022

With so many beautiful beaches in Thailand, we may find ourselves spending all our vacation days on the sand, soaking up the sun, and listening to the crashing waves. Avid adventurer Rachel explores what more Thailand has to offer beyond the beaches.

By Rachel Ofo

Thailand is a tropical country, which boasts average yearly temperatures in the 80s. So heading out on a nature walk isn’t always the first thing on people’s minds. However, with popular destinations like Khao Yai, Kanchanaburi and Hua Hin just a few hours away from Bangkok, it’s easy enough to take a trip out and spend the day splashing in waterfalls, inhaling fresh air and taking in what Thai forests have to offer. Below are a few places that are ideal for nature lovers and their mini nature lovers. The following locations are particularly child-friendly, so order your child a pair of bird-watching binoculars and get on your way!

Phraya Nakhon Cave, Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

approximately 260 km from Bangkok

The sun beams down inside Phraya Nakhon Cave

This park can be found about an hour outside of central Hua Hin. The amazing thing about Sam Roi Yot is that it’s situated on a beach. So those who are still struggling with giving up a beach day for a hike, you can have both here! You can hike all the way, or for a ฿400 round trip, you can rent a longboat that zips through the ocean to a beach, shortening the hike time by about 30 minutes. Upon entering the trail, keep your eyes peeled for monkeys swinging from branches overhead. The hike itself isn’t particularly long or difficult, but with the elevation and heat you might need to stop for several water breaks. About 300 meters up the trail, there is a breathtaking lookout point overlooking the beach, and a cave another 300 meters up. Inside the cave, you can rest, enjoy a significant drop in temperature, and gaze upon a pavilion constructed over 100 years ago. And if you’re worried about taking your children, there are plenty of toddlers leading the way for their parents. My four-year old basically ran up.

Namtok Sam Lan National Park

approximately 125 km from Bangkok

On the Sam Lan trail

Located in Saraburi Province, this park is fairly close to Bangkok and has a little bit of everything, from camping to hiking to bike paths. There are three waterfalls which draw plenty of crowds, even during the dry season. Upon arriving at the park, you’re greeted by a small lake in the center where many people set up tents to relax. You can also rent camping gear. But if you’re not into sleeping on the ground, there are also bungalows available for rent. For those more interested in getting active, there is a paved road, ideal for walking and biking. This road leads to the trailhead. The path heading to the first waterfall is fairly easy, flat and short, making it a favourite among children. And if you’re not up for returning to Bangkok immediately, you can order some Thai food from the restaurant and have lunch near the lake.

Namtok Haew Narok, Khao Yai National Park

Approximately 150 km from Bangkok

Haew Narok waterfall

Situated in Khao Yai National Park, this is the largest waterfall in the area. The hike itself is short, with lots to see on the way. There are five bridges that children will surely enjoy crossing. You’ll also see plenty of lizards scurrying across the trail. To reach the waterfall, you’ll descend a fairly steep stairway. This definitely requires rail holding and possibly hand holding. My child stayed on my back. There isn’t much to do besides looking at the water as swimming is prohibited, so it’s probably best to stay in Khao Yai, or tie in a visit to another nearby waterfall. There are also picnic areas in fields or next to nearby lakes, which would be great to further enjoy the outdoors. Maybe you can even spot an elephant or two since they’re known to frequent the area. Between the drive and park entry fees (฿300 for non-Thai adults and children, and ฿90 baht for a car), it’s best to consider spending a few hours in the park.

Overall, with millions of acres of forests within Thailand, there is an unlimited amount of opportunity for nature lovers. Hundreds of trails and waterfalls will be sure to keep you and your little ones busy. And although they all share similar geographic features, each forest has its special characteristics, keeping you exploring beyond the beach.

Photos courtesy of the author.

About the Author

Rachel moved from the US to Bangkok in 2016. She has a daughter, whom she loves dragging around the city on various adventures. In her free time, she enjoys reading, watching movies and trying new restaurants. She also enjoys being out in nature with her daughter. She joined BAMBI as an assistant editor and looks forward to this opportunity.

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