Waterfalls are in abundance in South East Asia but I would have to say that the Erawan Waterfalls was definitely a favorite! A picturesque few hours of outdoors fitness fun. The lime scaled surface of them made it a right treat to clamber down this 7 tiered waterfall system!
If you have gone to Kanchanaburi to check out the River Kwai and The Death Railway you may want to add an extra day to your travel itinerary to go to the Erawan waterfalls! To be fair, we had booked too many days in Kanchanaburi. It is not a large place and to be honest most of the top ‘things to do’ can all be done in a single day.
As we are ‘budget backpackers’ we had priced out that getting a scooter plus gas was 50THB cheaper than taking the public bus so we pinched our pennies and went to a local scooter rental place near our hostel. It took a bit of convincing the woman there that we only needed the one 110cc Scoopy scooter for the two of us. She didn’t seem to think it would make the trip with both our butts on it for the whole 110km round trip and was probably hoping to make a second rental sale! FINALLY after intense negotiations and our pro haggling skills, passports were handed over, she brimmed the gas tank for us and we made plans for the next day to leave bright and early on this next wilderness adventure.
We left early in the morning, a small day pack in hand and helmets on our heads. We scootered the approximately 55km in a straight line to the National Park. It was an easy drive.
At the park entrance we handed over 300THB each for the entrance fee to the park to the nice ranger there and left the scooter in the designated area.
It was a short and fairly even walk to the first of the waterfalls. We took in the clear turqoise pools as we walked past them speedily, the earliest of the picnickers setting up in the best spots.
We had a mission.
The night before we had decided to start at the top and work our way down the waterfalls, to avoid the most crowed lower levels.To our surprise, we didn’t realize that these were going to be like the Bua Tong Waterfalls outside of Chiang Mai, where the limescale had made the rocks and fallen trees sticky to clamber over and down! Out of breathe once we made it to the 7th level we were excited about the prospect of keeping cool and climbing down the waterfalls in the +30 degree heat!
If we couldn’t make it down a particular area we would simply head back to the trail until we could again.
We managed our way all the way down to the 4th level where there was a large smooth rock you could climb up and slide into a deep pool full of fish! I did it a few times and the larger of the fish stayed away from the splashing but the smaller ones are similar to those aquariums of ‘spa fish’ who liked to nibble at the dead skin off your body.
I may have squealed a bit the first time they got me….
Actually everytime they got me.
I couldn’t get used to the sensation. But hey, some people loved it and got a ‘free’ treatment included with the price of admission.
After the 4th level it had already been about 3 hours of hiking and climbing. We were exhausted and hungry as the park does not allow anything that could be littered past the 3rd waterfall check point. Even plastic water bottles have to be checked there for 20THB.
This worked out fine for us, as it was mid-day the families and tours had filled the lower levels that allowed food and picnics. These were mostly swimming holes and not as interesting to climb. So we weren’t bothered to give them a miss and head back to the scooter in search of cheap eats.
Steps walked and fitness aside, a few notes I thought I’d share:
Please do keep in mind that this is a more ‘modest’ country, they do have signs that ask you to respect the culture and not where revealing bathing suits, and to cover up. It’s respectful. If you don’t cover up it’s not as if someone will come and tell you to, but you will get stared at a lot. So do yourself a favor and leave the bikini’s behind. Wear something you don’t mind swimming in like a t-shirt and sports shorts.
This isn’t a place to suntan. This isn’t Patong Beach.
There is lots of wild life there besides the nibbly fishes. We saw Monitor Lizards and some monkey’s as well. As most of the creatures are harmless, don’t try and feed or touch any of them. In regards to the monkeys, keep your belongings with you! I loved my small 5L waterproof bag for keeping my valuables safe from water and prying hands (both animal and human).
Be a traveller and not a tourist. Try and keep these beautiful places cleaner than you arrived.