Get Back to Nature: Camping at Erawan Falls
Thundering water. Endless jungle. A night under the stars. There’s not much to dislike there. It’s time to get out of the hustle and bustle of Bangkok and explore the Erawan Falls in Kanchanaburi.
If you’re planning on an extended stay in Bangkok then chances are that the city will get the better of you before too long. The relentless energy, cacophony of noise and crowds of people are normally part of the charm but sometimes it’s worth escaping for a bit of rest and relaxation.
It’s a longer trip and one you should plan in advance, but the Erawan Falls in Kanchanaburi province are well worth it. Around 5 hours from Thailand’s capital, you’ll be relaxing in almost no time at all. Easily the coolest and most underrated day trip from Bangkok, if you ask us!
What to Expect Camping at Erawan Falls
The Erawan National Park is a protected piece of the Thai countryside and offers tranquility in an increasingly intense country! You’ll be able to camp, relax, see the stars and, not least, climb the waterfalls. The camping area itself is next to a natural lake which includes a pagoda and floating pontoon. The water is cool and crisp making for a refreshing dip after the journey.
The waterfalls themselves are multi-tiered with natural swimming pools at each of the flatter stages; some of them even include nature-made water slides. Don’t expect to be swimming by yourself though. As well as local swimmers and tourists there are also some fairly hefty fish (up to 30cm long!). Think of them as a natural version of those foot spas you see on Khao San Road. Except these ones might go for a nibble whether you want them to or not!
The majority of people who visit the falls will hire a tent package. For 200 baht this includes tent, blanket, ‘mattress’ and pillow. You can opt for just the tent and only pay 150 baht but you’ll appreciate the optional extras. To get one of the packages you’ll need to pop to the accommodation office, they’ll then give you everything you need as well as a ticket. Return the ticket in the morning to pay your bill. The tents are a decent size, you can easily fit 2 people, 3 at a push.
The campsite facilities are very basic but helpful. Expect traditional campsite cold showers and toilets with external hand basins. There is an onsite restaurant that’ll either serve you there or allow you to take away to your tent. Don’t expect it to be the best food you’ll have on your trip but it’s good enough and isn’t wildly overpriced.
Hiking up Erawan Falls
Don’t expect a lie in, the sun comes up early and the canvas isn’t thick! This isn’t a bad thing though, it means you’ll be up and able to have the falls to yourself before the day trippers arrive. Plan to be out for few hours and leave the campsite. There are plenty of signs to show you the way.
It’s an easy walk with bamboo pathways and steps. The ladders get more and more precarious and less and less maintained the higher you go but they’re fine for the most part. Footwear is a tough choice between climbing comfort and easy crossing of water. Trainers get soaked but are comfortable for the climb, flip flops are the opposite.
How to Find Erawan Falls
Just like any other area of the country, transportation in Thailand comes in many forms. There are 3 options to choose from here. Hiring a scooter, taking a taxi or taking the bus.
Bus – Get yourself to Bangkok’s North Bus Terminal. It’s simple to find a bus to Kanchanaburi from there. Don’t expect the buses to adhere to any timetable that you find online. They leave when they’re full. If you’re lucky you might be the last ones on board, if you’re not you might be the first. As a guideline always expect to wait around an hour for them to fill.
From Kanchanaburi ask at the terminal for Erawan National Park. They’ll point you to another bus which will take you right to the entrance.
Scooter – We’re not talking from Bangkok. We wouldn’t wish driving in Bangkok on anyone! First get yourself to Kanchanaburi using the bus system above. Once there expect to pay around 200-250 baht for a 24 hour hire. Relax, take your time and head for Route 3199, it’ll wind all the way there. Note: Make sure your travel insurance covers you specifically for hire up to and including 125cc. Helmets are essential. If you can get an international driver’s license in advance you’ll save yourself hundreds of baht in police fines.
Taxi – Only really an option if you’re made of money. Expect to pay a huge price (multiple thousands) and it’s likely the driver would only take you if he can bring you back after staying the night nearby.
Camping in Kanchanaburi Insider Tip
Spiders – this is the jungle after all. Leaving early in the morning means that you’ll most likely end up with a face full of cobweb at some point. Most people don’t encounter the critters themselves but it’s worth keeping an eye out for them…