Camping at Erawan WaterfallEmma - 04 December 2016
Camping at Erawan National Park is a great way to see Erawan Waterfall without the crowds of day trippers ruining the scenic spot. During the day the park is filled with tourists (disproportionately Russian, for some reason!), but by camping we managed to do the entire hike to the top without seeing another soul.
Getting to Erawan National Park from Kanchanaburi
To get to Erawan National Park from Kanchanaburi we hired a 115cc scooter for 200 baht (£5) a day. The drive takes perhaps an hour and a half.
The initial road out of Kanchanaburi can look a bit intimidating to new scooter riders (three lanes!), but is actually a very easy ride. Just relax, go as slow as you want, and stick to the left lane. The route is simple enough, basically just stay on Route 3199 the entire way! The road gradually reduces down to just one lane as it gets out into countryside.
We find Thais to be very considerate drivers, and always give us plenty of room when we’re tentatively driving off on a scooter.
We got an international driver's permit each before we came, to make sure we were legally covered. No scooter rental place has actually asked for it, but it's reassuring to know we have it if something goes wrong! Your travel insurance will probably not cover you if you don’t have one and have an accident, and Thai police can demand a very large amount of money to cover any damage you’ve caused! We got it from the Post Office in the UK, which took an hour and cost us £5.50.
Erawan Waterfall Entrance Fees
The entrance fee for Erawan National Park is a rather steep 300 baht (£6.75) for foreigners (3x the price for Thai visitors). If you have a motorbike/moped you have to pay an additional 20 baht. There’s no additional fees for entrance to the waterfall.
Camping at Erawan National Park
Most people hire tents and sleeping bags from Erawan National Park, but you have the option of bringing your own which is a bit cheaper. You need to report to the Accommodation Office at the Visitor Centre. This is easy to find, in the main building by the car park when you enter. They’ll do all the paperwork here, and give you a sheet of paper to take to the campsite.
Getting to the campsite is around a 10 minute walk, which includes crossing a small ford. Just follow the signs. At the campsite, give the wardens in the office your piece of paper, and let them know what you want to hire. They’ll get it for you and let you pick a tent. In the morning, return what you hired and they’ll return the piece of paper. You then take the piece of paper back to the Accommodation Office to pay up.
- Two-person tent - 150 baht
- Blanket - 20 baht
- Pillow - 10 baht
- Sleeping mat - 20 baht
I really enjoyed camping at Erawan National Park! The tents are roomy, and are already pitched and ready for you. I’ve been twice now, both times in November, and the camping ground has been almost deserted both times. The views across the river are lovely to wake up to, and there’s a nice pagoda to sit on, or a pontoon floating on the river if you’d rather. We enjoyed lying on the pontoon, listening to the wildlife around us and watching the stars.
Facilities at the campsite are pretty basic, but perfectly adequate if you just want somewhere to stay for the night. The toilets and showers are typical for a campsite (toilet and shower cubicles, with sinks and mirrors outside). There are also additional sinks close to the tents.
Getting Food When Camping at Erawan
When we arrived at Erawan Waterfalls it was 4.30pm and the food stands had already closed for the day. We thought we were doomed to be hungry until the next day, but realised that just by the Visitor Centre there are plenty of food options that stay open later. It’s tourist food, so don’t expect the best meal of your life, but it wasn’t too overpriced.
We took ours as a takeaway, and ate it in the pagoda at the campsite, overlooking the river.
Hiking up Erawan Waterfall
Camping at Erawan National Park is a great way to see Erawan Waterfall without the crowds of day trippers ruining the scenic spot.Seeing Erawan Waterfall is of course the reason we came here, and this is where camping at Erawan National Park really pays off! We had gone to bed around 8pm, simply because it had been dark for a few hours and we thought we may as well! This meant that when we woke up at 5.30am, just before dawn, it didn't feel half so bad as it sounds!
We began our walk from the campsite just before 6am, and returned to the bottom by 8.30, including time for taking pictures, having a paddle, and generally taking our time. Doing the deserted forest walk in the early morning was peaceful, and almost ethereal. There were butterflies and birds dancing in the soft light, seemingly unbothered by our interruption. Beautiful.
And then you walk face first into a spiders web! Arrggh.
This happened to both of us several times, presumably because the spiders had been building overnight and we were the first to walk the path that day. This is the one downside to the early morning hike. We only saw one spider though, and he was a little one, so you don’t need to worry about walking face first into a huntsman spider!
The walk at the bottom is easy and paved. As you progress to higher tiers the path gets more difficult and in my opinion more fun! The nice steps give way to rickety bamboo ladders, and scrambling over boulders, and wading through shallow waterfall pools. We wore trainers, which protected our feet, but was a bit of a pain when crossing the water. When I did the hike for the first time a few years ago I wore flip flops, which posed its own problems!
You can swim in the pools at each of the tiers, and one even includes its own natural ‘water slide’. When I came four years ago I remember being nibbled all over by tiny little fish when I went for a dawn swim (the same kind that you have in ‘fish spas’).
Evidently in the intervening four years the fish have grown much bigger on their diet of tasty tourists, and this time when I went in for a paddle I encountered a sort of fish mafia.
I found a spot for a dip and stripped down to my swimsuit. Lots of big fish (30cm long) had congregated near the side where I was planning to get in, so I edged down a little further down the rocky slope. They silently (somewhat sinisterly) glided after me and waited in the water. Apprehensively I splashed the water with my toes, hoping to scare them off. No luck. Goaded on by Mike (who, I might add, was sat high and dry!) and watched unblinkingly from beneath the surface, I paddled in up to my shins. I stood for perhaps 15 seconds before a big nibble on the arch of my foot sent me shrieking for the shore.
All in all, camping at Erawan National Park gives you a completely different experience to a daytime visit, when the trails are packed full of bikini clad visitors. I can’t recommend it highly enough!