Khao Sam Roi Yot’s dramatic backdrop of endless limestone peaks festooned in lush greenery inspired its name (Khao Sam Roi Yot means ‘the mountain with three hundred peaks’). Covering an area of nearly 100 sqkm along the coast, approximately 60km south of Hua Hin, Khao Sam Roi Yot is as close as it gets to Krabi Province’s dream-like seascapes in the south of Thailand. Peppered with marshes, wetlands and mangrove swamps, the mountains house an abundance of wildlife, including barking deer, crab-eating macaques and serow, an Asian goat-antelope.
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Nature Lovers’ Paradise
Khao Sam Roi Yot boasts diverse scenery, from sweeping white-sand beaches and offshore islands to cave-ridden cliffs, forest trails and freshwater marshes home to large water birds, songbirds and raptors – totaling more than 300 species. If you are an enthusiastic birdwatcher, the best time to visit the park is between September and November, when hundreds of migratory shorebirds from Siberia, China and Northern Europe arrive to feed and rest, before continuing their southern journey to Australia. They arrive again from March to May, for the return journey.
Cave exploration and hiking are equally fulfilling activities. About 400 metres from the park’s headquarters, a 30-minute, 300-metre hike up the hill takes you to a scenic sunrise viewpoint at Khao Daeng (best time to go 05:30 – 07:00). Not a morning person? Then try visiting one of the caves dotting the peaks. Kaeo Cave is tucked deep in the mountains, and to get there you need to trek along an uneven, jungle-clad trail for two hours (contact the headquarters for a guide). Alternatively, Sai Cave, a 30-minute, 280-metre hike uphill about nine km from the headquarters, is easier to get to. Both caves boast magnificent translucent stalactites and stalagmites.
Phraya Nakhon Cave
Not to be missed, though, is Tham Phraya Nakhon, a cave with a hole in its roof that allows a perpendicular shaft of light to shine upon a Thai-style pavilion built for King Rama V – one of its most popular attractions.
Hemmed in on three sides by steep limestone mountains, the cave entrance is about 430 metres uphill from Laem Sala Beach. Inside, the expansive cove houses the lone Thai-style pavilion dedicated to King Chulalongkorn (Rama V). Set directly under two large shafts, where sunlight beams through in early morning, the pavilion appears rather mystical and all together surreal. The best time to go to catch this perfect ‘downlight’ is 10:30.
To get to the cave, take a 20-minute long-tail boat ride to Laem Sala Beach and hike another 30 minutes up a steep, forested trail. From the parking lot, you can also hike about an hour along a steep cliff trail, overlooking the picturesque coast.
Khao Sam Roi Yot
- Location: 60km south of Hua Hin, in Guiburi, Prachaub Kirikhand
- Tel: +66 (0)32 821 568, +66 (0)32 646 293