Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park is located approximately 50 km south from the seaside resort town of Hua Hin. There are some hotels and resorts within the national park area but most people tend to stay in Hua Hin and travel to Sam Roi Yot on day excursions. The spread of the park is quite extensive, encompassing 98 square km from north to south, and because of this you will need a vehicle to take in all the main attractions. Most people travelling from Hua Hin, if they aren’t on an arranged tour, will rent a motorbike for the day. Travel time from Hua Hin to Sam Roi Yot on a motorbike is approx. one hour. The English language translation of Khao Sam Roi Yot is “mountain with 300 peaks” and as you approach the national park it certainly seems that way as the myriad of distinctive, jagged peaks will come into view. The parks highest peak is just on 605 meters. The geography of Sam Roi Yot is one of craggy, jungle covered limestone terrain. Due to the weathering over past millennia much of the surface topography is sharp underfoot. It is mainly for this reason alone it is recommended you wear good footwear, proper hiking shoes and not flip flops, as visitation to all of the attractions involves a substantial amount of hiking. The main attractions are the caves in the area but there is also a great viewpoint at the southern end of the park which gives spectacular views along the cliff line and out over the ocean. The caves and viewpoints are the main attractions of Sam Roi Yot National Park.
Note: There is an entry fee for foreigners of 200 Baht for all the cave sites at Sam Roi Yot. However, you only pay the fee once for the day so if you have the energy reserves to visit more than one site, you won’t need to pay again.
The following is a summary of the main attractions of Sam Roi Yot National Park.
Praya Nakhon Cave
This is probably the main attraction of the park and most of the tour companies will promote this site in their outings to Sam Roi Yot. If you are doing the trip independently there is plenty of sign posting along the way providing direction to the car park and beach area, the starting point for the hike to the cave. One thing to keep in mind about cave tours is that when you see the word cave, you can immediately put the word hike before it; and the hike to Praya Nakhon is no exception. There are actually two hikes to get to the cave. The first one is from the start point at Bang Po Beach then up over the headland to the next beach south, Laem Sala. There is then a 500 meter flat walk through the forested beach area to the starting point for the final hike up the cliff face to the cave entrance. The sign at the bottom says 430 meters but half way up one may wonder if that is the actual track distance or elevation above sea level; particularly if you’ve done the hike over the headland as well. If you don’t have a good level of general fitness I would highly recommend foregoing the hike over the headland and taking the boat transfer (200 THB round trip) from the start point to the southern beach area to conserve energy levels. Once at the cave entrance though, the perspiration of getting there is well worth the effort as one enters the truly large and impressive Praya Nakhon Cave. The cave has large roof openings creating plenty of natural lighting within; so there’s no real need for a flashlight. The main feature of the cave is the small temple situated on a sand hillock in the inner chamber. The information plaque says the temple was erected approx. 200 years previously.
Sai cave is situated at the southern end of the park and is less frequented than Praya Nakhon Cave. However, if you are a cave enthusiast, it is definitely worth the effort of having a look as there are some impressive formations inside. The start point for the hike to the cave is a beach at the end of a road which branches off route 4020. The walk to the cave entrance is around 280 meters from the car park but the hike, as compared with Praya Nakhon, is more rugged with jagged, loose rocks littering the track. Wearing sturdy footwear is highly recommended. Proper hiking boots are ideal as they have tread which will grip the rocky terrain and help with stability. The cave itself smaller in size than Praya Nakhon but it is a dark cave and you will need a flash light. The main feature of the cave is the impressive formation in the farthest section of the cave where a hole in the roof allows some natural lighting in.
Kaeo Cave is situated in the same area as Praya Nakhorn Cave and you will actually pass the turn off on the way to Praya Nakhon. Kaeo Cave is a real cave meaning it is completely dark once you enter and the full circuit (200 meters) has a number of squeezes and traverses across slippery areas. This cave is more of an adventure than a tour and should be treated with respect. Wear good footwear and take a flashlight for each member of the team. That way if one light should fail, there is a back- up. Head lamps a can be hired at the check point for 40 THB (just over 1 USD). I did two trips through this cave and I’m always astounded when I see people take their safety so lightly; wearing flip flops and a two man team only having one light between them. Seriously, if that light fails and you have no back-up you are up the creek without a paddle. Be warned, real caves such as Kaeo Cave without lighting are pitch black. For the sake of 40 THB is your safety worth jeopardising? The walk up to the cave entrance is 128 meters up a jagged, rock strewn track. In some places there are haul ropes connected between trees to help pull yourself up and come down; particularly on the upper section where you exit the cave. The cave penetration also includes a number of ladder climbs and the directional signage within is often difficult to locate; just another reason why you need a decent flash light. The first few meters of the penetration also has low roof areas where you’ll need to get down on your hands and knees to crawl through. The main feature of the cave is the large chamber at the mid-point of the circuit where there are some nice formations to be seen. In summing up I would say; wear good foot wear, take one flash light per team member, and expect to get sweaty and dirty.
Khao Daeng Viewpoint
Khao Daeng viewpoint is at the southern end of the park and provides a spectacular view across the peaks and coast line to the north. The sign at the parking area says 750 meters but I believe that is the actual track distance and not the elevation. The elevation is approx. 300 meters above sea level. The hike is not so difficult and for someone with a reasonably good level of fitness, it should take approx. 40 minutes. Wear sturdy footwear as the terrain is jagged and track is littered with loose rocks and take a good supply of drinking water (1 liter per person). Also be sure footed on the ascent and descent as the track is lined with spiky cacti on many sections. Once you arrive at the top a cool breeze and a great view await you.
Sam Roi Yot National Park
Location: Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, THAILAND.
Nearest town: Hua Hin, approx. 46 km from Hua Hin Station to park entry point
Nearest Airport: Bangkok.
Nearest rail terminal: Hua Hin.
Recommended accommodation in Hua Hin: Subhamitra Hotel (price approx. 1000 THB per night).
National Park access: From Hua Hin – go south on Hwy #4. Turn left at route # 1020 (approx. 20 km south of Hua Hin). Follow route # 1020 until T-Junction. Turn right, go straight for 300 meters, then turn left onto route # 4020 and follow until entering Sam Roi Yot National Park. There is plenty of directional signage in English language to all the main attractions.
NOTE: as with all national parks in Thailand, there is an entrance fee for foreigners. Rates are normally 200 – 400 THB. The fee for 1 day covers all attractions visited for that day.
Praya Nakhon Cave: The primary attraction of the park. The turn off to the parking area (Bang Po Beach) is well sign posted and is at a major intersection a few kilometers within the park borders.
Kaeo Cave: The turn off to Kaeo Cave is on the left on the road to Bang Po Beach.
Sai Cave: Sai Cave is further down route # 4020. The turn off to the beach and parking area, the start point for the hike to Sai Cave, is an open flat area where route # 4020 takes a sharp turn to the right.
Khao Daeng View Point: Is at the southern end of the park where the route # 4020 begins to head back inland. Wear good shoes for the hike up to the view point. The track is littered with loose, sharp rocks.
Wat Khao Daeng: Is located approx. 2 kilometers before the turn-off to the view point.
Khao Sam Roi Yot is well worth a couple of days of your time.
Khao Sam Roi Yot is well worth a couple of days of your time.