Sai Yok National Park
The location of Sai Yok National Park is in the northwest of Thailand. Roughly 250 km northwest of Bangkok in the province of Kanchanaburi. In 1980 Sai Yok became the 19th national park of Thailand. The size of Sai Yok National Park is 958 km2 and the highest point is 1125 meter above sea level. It lies in the Roataie mountain range.
The history of the park began when the then king, who was the 5th ruler in the Rama Dynasty, visited the park in 1877 and 1888. The king swam in one of the many pools in the area. Later a Thai song was written about the beauty of Sai Yok waterfall and surrounding forest. This made the place more known and famous by Thai people.
As the location is higher than for example Kanchanaburi town, the temperatures are lower. An average high of 31 degrees Celsius and average low of 16 degrees Celsius. As where the temperature in Kanchanaburi, which is a hundred kilometers away, is easily 38 in the hot season (March-April-May). Because of the climate in Sai Yok there are parts without rainfall and there are many types of plants to be found. Waterfalls and caves can be found in the National Park, just as land crabs and bats.
Sai Yok has a few waterfalls. The first one that you will reach when you follow highway 323 is Sai Yok Noi. Noi is the Thai word for small and Yai for big, but when you compare both Sai Yok Noi and Sai Yok Yai, you will notice that Noi is a higher waterfall than Yai. A reason why Noi (small) is called that way could be that in the dry season there is hardly any water coming from it, while the Sai Yok Yai (big) is smaller in size, but has water coming down during the full year.
Sai Yok Yai
Waterfall Sai Yok Yai is located along the same highway 323. It is roughly 35 km farther than Sai Yok Noi waterfall. In between Noi waterfall and Yai waterfall lies the Hellfire Pass. To visit Sai Yok Yai, you need to enter the National Park and pay, just as by Erawan National Park, a ticket for 300 thb p.p. Once you got your ticket, follow the road to the junction and turn left. That road will lead you to the parking area. At the edge of the parking area there is a visitor center. And there are boards and signs that explain what there is to see, which direction and how far.
You can see the waterfall of Sai Yok Yai from different spots. The flow of water streams actually through the forest and ends up in the Kwae Noi river. So you can get in the forest near the water stream, but you can also walk to the suspension bridge. A small walking bridge over the river. On that bridge you have a perfect view of the waterfall, which is 8 meters high.
On the other side of the bridge you can see many boats of which some are restaurants or places to sit and have a drink. This is a perfect place to sit with a view on the waterfall, the bridge, the hills and passing small boats once in a while. Around 500 meters from Sai Yok Yai waterfall, there is one more waterfall named Sai Yok Lek. Other spots are at a max distance of 350 meter, like a historical site, a view point, docking or camp site.
Sai Yok National Park is not around the corner, so you might opt to stay overnight at the park. Nice houses are for rent for around 800 thb per night. Occasionally they give discounts and you might be able to rent for 560 thb per night. These discounts are mostly during off season and midweeks, as the weekends are busier with visitors. The houses have 2 bedrooms and a bathroom and look nice in a quiet and peaceful scenery, but it’s possible that you don’t have a hot shower or when you switch on the geyser for a hot shower, that all the lights go off. It seems they need to work on the wires or electric part, at least in some of the houses/bungalows.
To rent a bungalow you need to bring an ID, although a copy of your passport might be accepted too. There is a supermarket on highway 323 just before you turn left to the National Park. You can do your shopping there, but not all of the houses have a fridge.