At weekends and on public holidays, Thai people often like go for a refreshing dip to cool off and fortunately Phuket has waterfalls sprinkled across the island. Hidden away from the teeming beaches amid acres of lush jungle, the superb jungle waterfalls have also now become a popular attraction for visitors from around the world.
Bang Pae Waterfall
One popular swimming spot for locals on Phuket is Bang Pae waterfall in Khao Phra Thaeo National Park in Thalang, which is situated just north of Phuket Town. Although this waterfall is no Niagara Falls, it is the biggest cascade on Phuket, and excellent for swimming in the wetter season from May to October. The site is also a quaint location for an afternoon picnic, although visitors who prefer the comfort of a restaurant can get their fill at one of the eateries near the car park and by a lake. The many trails that criss-cross the surrounding lush jungle hills also attract hikers who get up early to beat the heat for a bracing early morning walk.
For visitors who want to see the local jungle wildlife, the Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre is situated about a ten minute walk from Bang Pae waterfall. The national park is also home to plenty of wild animals which visitors should keep their eyes peeled for, including barking deer, tropical birds and many other varieties of monkey species. Entry to the national park costs foreign visitors about THB200 (US$6.50), who should keep their ticket in case they plan on visiting any of Phuket’s other parks on the same day.
Just over the hill from Bang Pae waterfall in the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park, visitors can employ the services of a local guide to trek to the Tonsai waterfall. Although not as large as its neighbour, Tonsai’s location is great for a shady afternoon away from the sun. The waterfall is a fabulous place for bird watching, and visitors should look out for the red-billed malkoha, the greater racket-tailed drongo and the sea eagle. In terms of facilities, Tonsai is very well equipped for visiting families, and there is even a small children’s playground for when kids get tired of splashing around in the water. Cold drinks and snacks can also be purchased from the local stalls.
Kathu Waterfall is more of a series of drop pools than one gushing torrent of water, and depending on what time of year you visit, the drop pools may actually be very still. During the rainy season however, the pools are a great deal more impressive visually, as they are much more likely to be overflowing with water. As such, the best time to visit is between June and November. The waterfall is situated to the east of Patong, approximately halfway between Patong and Phuket Town. To experiences the real beauty of this waterfall yo need o make the hard journey to the very top drop pool where you are rewarded with a dip in the cool water. However, it is quite a hard hike, so if you are visiting as a family with children, it may be better to stop for a soak at one of the pools lower down. Visitors who attempt the hike should also make sure they take plenty of drinking water, which can be purchased from one of the many stalls at the bottom of the waterfall. Nearby attractions include a Palazzo (dinner show) and the Flying Hanuman zip line.
Khao Sok National Park
Although located on the Thai mainland, if you are on a quest to see Thailand's best waterfalls and nature you should not miss the wonders of Khao Sok National Park whilst you are in Southern Thailand. Home to high mountain peaks, deep valleys, hidden caves and placid lakes, the park is home to eight waterfalls, all of which are located within 10km of the park's headquarters. Bang Hua Raet waterfall is comprised of two levels of water flow coming from a Sok waterway, and is an impressive sight. Tang Nam waterfall, located 6km from HQ, has carved a large gorge through the rock to form a deep pool which is home to many species of fresh water fish. Once at the park, it is possible for visitors to arrange tours that take in the highlights of the natural scenery, including some of the waterfalls. Other activities available include elephant trekking, hiking, canoeing and jeep safaris.
If you decide to visit any of the above waterfalls whilst you are in Phuket, it would be wise to ensure you are fully kitted out before you make the journey. No matter what time of year you visit, always take a spare change of clothes and towel, as you never know when the chance to take a refreshing dip might come along. Visitors should also wear sensible walking shoes as the paths surrounding the waterfalls tend to be slippy. Due to the lush jungle surroundings, mosquito repellent is also a must for visitors who don’t want to be eaten alive.
Posted by Max Vee