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Erawan National Park
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrIn the midst of the Thai jungle, 37 miles away from the bridge on the River Kwai, spans the Erawan National Park, host to the Erawan Falls, a natural complex of seven waterfalls that fall one into the other, and in countless smaller and shallower waterfalls, creating a small piece of Eden you can waddle through, while luxurious fish peck at your feet. The park spans over 212 square miles and is packed with oases waiting to be leisured in, caves hidden under waterfalls and a huge see-through, watery jungle floor.
The seven waterfalls form a river that springs from the rock of the seventh-highest and most imposing waterfall, which resembles Erawan, the mythic three-headed elephant mount of Indra, the god of rain and thunder. If you are willing to go to the top (and you should be), the trek is not easy, but not unpleasant either, especially the last 656 feet. The fourth pool is probably the most popular: it has turned into a small strand, since this is where everybody swims around, takes dives and pictures, and enjoys the otherwise expensive fish massage for free.
Among the waterfalls and rushes, three major caves can be found: Phartat, situated at roughly 6 miles from the park entrance, it displays wonderful stalactite and stalagmite formations and limestone geology; the Mi Cave, with its name deriving from the myth that it was once home to bears; The Wang Bahdan Cave with several chambers, and a running stream at the bottom.
How to Get ThereThe only trains to Kanchanaburi depart from the Thonburi station in Bangkok, which is about a kilometer away from the Chao Phraya docks, situated on a muddy street on which people, cars and motorbikes are coming and going on 3 "lanes", each waiting its turn without honks, curses and screams. Things are slow in Thailand, but also relieving.
Like they , the train is ordinary, and managed to get to class 3, with seats sawed from wood and Dany Trejo look-alikes for passengers. The trains always have delays, so it's best to get down in Kanchanaburi and take a bus to Erawan Falls.
In Kanchanaburi, the cab drivers often try to pull scams on you, asking where you go and suggesting other holiday destinations because your destination is closed for the day. It's best to find your own way all the time. Indeed, the bus station right across the main road has buses coming every 30 minutes. The fare is $ 1.50 USD .
A good plan might be to get down at Nam Tok, the last station, to be closer to the other destinations - the bridge on the River Kwai and the Hellfire Pass, see them both in one day and then go back to Kanchanaburi. The train has a 40-minute delay right before Kanchanaburi though, which is the halfway between Bangkok and Nam Tok. Since it would probably be double the time if you depart from Nam Tok, you can get down in Kanchanaburi and take a bus to Erawan Falls and leave Hellfire Pass for the next day. While it's probably good to see them all in one day, if you think your train will have a delay, it is probably better to play it safe, also cutting down on the sightseeing rush.
When to GoWhile Erawan Falls may not be the most-known attraction for foreigners, they are popular in Thailand, and during the Thai New Year (13-15 April) they are quite busy. If you like the festival atmosphere you'd probably like the experience during this period, but if you plan a solitary trip, autumn is perhaps the best time to visit.
The complex closes down at 4PM and the last bus will also depart at 4PM. Worst case scenario is to sleep in the jungle, which can only be a pleasure in itself, but hitchhiking is really easy in Thailand, so don't worry if you don't catch the bus back to Kanchanaburi.
While the park is always open, the best time to visit considering temperature is the cold season. While it is the coolest, as the name implies, humidity still makes it feel very hot.
Places to Visit NearbyIn the Kanchanaburi area, the Hellfire Pass Museum stands as testimony to the generally eclipsed horrors of the events that happened in Asia during World War II. Though not the happiest of attractions, the Hellfire Pass, along with the four kilometers portion of the remains of the Death Railway, built during World War II between Singapore and Burma, are definitely worth visiting.
In Kanchanaburi, there is the famous bridge over the River Kwai, on which a train passes two times a day, and whose passage can be blocked by the swarm of tourists visiting the bridge, much to the crowd's delight. Probably the funniest fact related to the bridge is that it was actually situated on a different river, named Mae Klong, renamed to Kwai only after the tourists started to pour in, following the movie's success.
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Author: aelumag. Last updated: Jan 15, 2015