at Khao Phra Thaeo National Park
Tucked away in the relatively rural district of Thalang District in the north of Phuket, Bang Pae Waterfall is a small yet impressive cascade. It’s located within Khao Phra Thaeo National Park, a large area of verdant hills that spreads across approximately 20 square kilometres, shrouded by lush foliage and dense jungle. Hiking to the waterfall is a thrilling adventure that puts you up close and personal with Thailand’s beautiful nature.
There is an entrance fee of 200 Thai baht to access the national park, but the experience really is well worth the price.
The path that leads to Bang Pae Waterfall is not treacherous, although it can be challenging at times. Before embarking on the hike, make sure to grab a bottle of water and put on sturdy shoes or boots. The trek to the waterfall is scenic. The path is dotted with large boulders and massive old trees with roots that twist and turn at every curve.
Along the way to the summit of fall itself, the river accumulates in natural pools and even smaller cascades, which make for relaxing spots to stop and catch your breath or dip your toes.
Reaching the largest section of the waterfall is a wonderful sight. The water surges down over large granite boulders and into the clear pools below. It is possible to swim here, although do be careful as the riverbed can be extremely slippery. The waterfall is surrounded by an array of tropical plants and flowers, and you’re likely to see a large variety of birds, insects and butterflies.
After trekking back down from the waterfall, make sure to stop at the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project. It’s an animal welfare and conservation project that works to rehabilitate unwanted pet gibbons, or those confiscated from the tourist photo-op industry, back into their natural habitat. The staff put their hearts and souls into their work, and it’s great to watch the gibbons from afar, living as they should.
If you’re feeling hungry after your jungle adventure, we recommend stopping at Piang Prai Restaurant. A local favourite, the restaurant serves up authentic Thai food in a natural environment. Prices are affordable and it’s a charming setting near the waterfall.
A favourite local spot thhat’s easily accessible and close to Patong, the Kathu Waterfall is well-worth visiting during the wet season, when the vegetation is lush and the water mighty and full. Essentially a series of drop pools, Kathu Waterfall is made up of four separate tiers. The lower tiers are easy to reach but, if the top of the waterfall is what calls you, expect a difficult climb.
The lowest tier just inside the entrance isn’t the most picturesque, as it’s been built up with concrete, so we suggest taking the stairs and heading uphill. The highest cascade can be reached within five minutes. Covered by the jungle canopy, the setting is tranquil. There are large, cool rocks to sit on and admire the view, but take note that the water here tends to be quite shallow.
To discover more of Kathu Waterfall, continue climbing uphill where the steps will eventually turn into a dirt path. Following the path through the jungle is a real adventurous experience if you’re not used to this kind of trek. The natural surrounding are stunning with large trees, oversized tropical plants, colourful flowers and the occasional intricately weaved web with a sinister-looking spider or two!
It is possible to trek further into the jungle and veer off the main path to explore more of the area surrounding the waterfall. However, best to be safe by wearing sturdy shoes and taking a bottle of water along. Take care here, as parts of the jungle path can be exceptionally steep, and during the wet season, the path will be slippery with mud.
Before leaving Kathu Waterfall, grab a bite to eat at Krua Pai Lin Restaurant. Located at the bottom of the waterfall, the restaurant is a charming open-air Thai eatery that serves up tasty local food.
Kathu Waterfall: Take Route 4020 to Loch Palm Golf Course and turn onto Soi Namthok Kathu. Follow the road for 2 kilometres, until it ends, and you will find Kathu Waterfall.
Bang Pae Waterfall: Turn east at the Heroine’s Monument and follow this road for about 9 kilometres until you see the signage for Khao Phra Thaeo National Park.