Complete Guide to the Erawan National Park
The Erawan National Park is one of those must-see destinations in Thailand. Explore the seven different level at the Erawan Waterfall and go for a swim in the middle of the jungle. The hike is not too difficult and takes about an hour each way.
If time permits, then explore one of the caves or hiking trails after the waterfall. Most people don’t even know these exist, but I’ve provided all the details in this article.
The Erawan National Park is one of my favorite places to visit near Bangkok. It is the most accessible national park from Bangkok, located just three hours away. If you’re staying in Kanchanaburi, then it is only 16km from town by bus, van or motorbike!
Let’s get exploring, here is your ultimate guide to the Erawan National Park (and Erawan Waterfall).
Things to do in the Erawan National Park
Most people associate the Erawan National Park with the Erawan Waterfall, and for a good reason, it is amazing! However, equally as many travelers are totally unaware of the caves and hiking trails which lay just beyond the waterfall.
Here I am going to give you the rundown on everything to do in this awesome national park!
Explore the 7 different levels of the Erawan Waterfall via a winding jungle trail. You will climb up through the jungle via wooden ladders, crawling over boulders and walking barefoot through the stream.
Level 1 of the Erawan Waterfall is a good place for lunch. Unpack your grilled chicken, sticky rice, and somtam, as the Thais do. If you haven’t brought any food from Kanchanaburi, then you can grab some at the small popup stalls here.
Beyond the level 1 picnic area, you will have to leave all food and packaging behind. You can only take a water bottle which requires a deposit to be paid to the park staff. This is aimed at reducing the amount of rubbish that is left behind on the trail.
Top Tip: The lower levels of the Erawan Waterfall are often crowded. However the further you go, the fewer people there will be.
Notice how the stream dissolves the calcium carbonate from the limestone. This turns it a cloudy emerald green (similar to the Kuang Si Falls near Luang Prabang in Laos).
Watch out for the fish as you swim in the water. They will nibble at your feet which is an odd sensation. Don’t worry, they don’t really bite. After a while, you might even enjoy it!
The upper levels of the Erawan Falls have some great swimming pools. I personally recommend levels 5 and 7 as the best places to swim for a while. You will enjoy these the most.
The top level of the Erawan Waterfall has a tall stream pouring over the rocks and is said to represent the three-headed elephant Hindu God. This is where the name Erawan comes from.
Love waterfalls? Check out these great waterfalls to visit in Pai, Thailand
The Erawan National Park also offers some hiking trails.
Easy: The easy hiking trail starts behind the public toilets by the National Park HQ. The trail runs parallel to the main walking track leading to the first level of the Erawan Waterfall. This trail is about 1km long, through a leafy bamboo forest. It is a nice alternative to taking the standard route.
Adventure: The more adventurous option is the 5km Khao Hin Lan Pee Nature Trail. The trail ends at level 5 of the Erawan Waterfall and takes 2-3 hours to walk. According to the National Park staff, a guide is required for this.
The Erawan National Park also has a whole range of caves to explore. These caves can be accessed for the same entry fee that you pay to visit the waterfall, however, the national parks staff will force you to take a guide to navigate the way.
Phra That Cave – this cave is located approximately 12 kilometers beyond the Erawan National Park Headquarters. The entrance is a squeeze, but once inside the main cavern is over 200m wide. There are lots of stalactites and stalagmites inside this cave. The cave is open from 8am to 4pm, however, the guides should be contacted before 3pm to visit.
Wang Badan Cave – this cave is actually accessed from the other side of the Erawan National Park behind the Saiyok Waterfall. Head to the guard house on the western end of the park, from there it is another 1.5-kilometer hike to the Wang Badan Cave. There are two levels in this cave, the upper had lots of stalactites, while the lower level has an underground stream.
Rua Cave – this cave does not have those amazing rock formations like the Phra That and Wang Badan caves,. The reason to visit the Rua Cave is to see the burials of an ancient civilization. There are coffins in here made from carved out trees.
When to Visit the Erawan National Park
Duration: The hiking trail is fairly easy and takes about 30 minutes one way to the top, without stops. However, you should not rush your trip to the Erawan National Park.
Many group tours visiting the Erawan Waterfall tend to rush in and out in about 2 hours. This really isn’t enough time to enjoy the amazing Thai jungle. Forget about package tours and spend a whole day at the waterfall.
When: The Erawan National Park open gates at 7am and officially close at 4.30pm.
The Erawan Falls are busy on weekends. If possible it is best to visit the waterfall during the week. Arrive early in the morning and you’ll have the jungle to yourself.
I also suggest visiting during or just after the wet season, as the dry season can be well… quite dry. So when is that? Check out my guide on the best time to visit Bangkok and surrounding areas for more.
How to get from Bangkok to Erawan National Park
Stage 1: The first stage of getting from Bangkok to Erawan National Park is getting to Kanchanaburi. Unless you have your own private transport there are your options:
- Minivan – Vans depart Mochit from 5am to 11pm almost every 20 minutes. Tickets and timetables here. This is the best option for getting from Bangkok to Erawan National Park early in the morning. The bus takes about 2 hours and costs up to 110 THB (USD 4) per person one way.
- Train – Thinking of nice countryside views from Bangkok to Erawan National Park? Trains depart from Bangkok’s Thonburi train station at 7.50am and 1.55pm. The trip takes about 3 hours but Thailand’s trains are notorious for being much slower. Tickets are 110 THB (USD 4) per person one way.
Stage 2: The second stage from Bangkok to the Erawan National Park is getting from Kanchanaburi to the park itself. Consider the following options:
- Songtaew – Not up for riding a motorbike? A songtaew is the next best option. Songtaews going to the Erawan National Park can be found at the Kanchanaburi Bus Station in the center of town. A songtaew typically costs 1,000 THB for a round trip. This is a great price when divided by a group of up to 10 people.
- Motorbike – Taking a motorbike from Kanchanaburi to Erawan National Park is my favorite option. The ride takes about one hour and you have total freedom with time. Motorbikes can be rented for just 300 THB (USD 10) per day in Kanchanaburi. Get directions here.
- Bus – A bus runs directly from Kanchanaburi to Erawan National Park. It departs the Kanchanaburi Bus Station hourly from 8am to 5pm. The public bus takes about 1 hour each way and costs only 45 THB (USD 1.50). It returns to Kanchanaburi hourly too.
Hotels near Erawan National Park
There are some nice resorts along the route from Kanchanaburi to the National Park. Check out the River Kwai Park Resort and the Silver Lake Resort. These are both located by the water and offers a tranquil setting.
I prefer staying outside of Kanchanaburi and closer to the Erawan Waterfall in the forest. You can get great deals for under 1,500 THB (USD 50) per night, twin room. By staying closer to the national park you can get to teh waterfall early in the morning before all the day trips from Bangkok.
Erawan National Park Entrance Fee
The Erawan National Park entrance fee is 300 THB for foreigners and 100 THB for locals. Although the entrance fee seems expensive, negotiations won’t work. The good news is that this entrance fee is used for conservation efforts, and keeping the national park clean.
There is also a fee of 20 THB for a motorbike and 30 THB for all other vehicles.
You will be given a small paper ticket when you pay the national park entrance fee. Keep this with you at all times (except when you swim of course).
Where to Travel Next?
Kanchanaburi is surrounded by lots of good travel opportunities, especially if you like nature. Head to Sai Yok for a night on a floating jungle raft and explore the ancient Khmer temple Prasat Muang Sing.
Travel further past Saiyok to visit the Hell Fire Pass the Australian War Memorial from WW2. Continue as far as Sangkhlaburi to visit the iconic wooden Mon Bridge and taste some authentic Burmese curries.
I have included lots of great day trips from Bangkok in my HUGE Bangkok travel guide. Download it now for just $9.95.
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