Tai Rom Yen National Park is a massive forest 1 hour drive from Surat Thani city centre. Within the park there are 5 waterfalls, a big cave and wild animals including wild elephants.
Tai Rom Yen is a beautiful pristine forest though not popular with western tourists. On the day we visited the cave it was just us and another foreigner although upon our arrival we met a crowd of locals who where visiting all the different attractions in the park in one day. At Dat Fa waterfall there were only local people swimming in the waterfall’s pool or having picnics.
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Tai Rom Yen National Park
Interestingly and maybe the reason why the area is not so popular is that until the early 1990s it was occupied by communist rebels and not safe to visit. After years of occupation, an agreement was reached that saw the rebels free the area and at which time it was made into a national park. To this day, two rebel camps serve as park attractions.
The park’s 5 waterfalls are Dat Fa, Mueang Thuat, Klongnamtao, Klongkanbed and Sarm Hah Jet with the first two being the nicest and most popular. We visited Tai Rom Yen end of April (which is the summer season) and over a day and only managed a tour to Kamin cave and a walk and dip in Dat Fa waterfall. The park’s rainy season is from May to December.
The drive from Khamin cave to Dat Fa waterfall is about 30 minutes although we took longer than that as we missed some turns on the way. If staying in Surat Thani city centre it is best to start the day early and include more sightseeing.
The national park fee is 200 Baht per person and the ticket is valid for all attractions in the park. It is possible to camp at Tai Rom Yen and in this case you should contact the park directly.
This huge cave is about 1.2 km long and visits to the cave are accompanied by a guide. On our visit the tour was just a group of 3 people.
A steel staircase leads down into the cave and gets gradually darker until the only light is that from the guide’s torch. Getting even deeper into the cave the smell of bats’ poop kicks in and at times it was too strong and almost unbearable.
Although the guide did not speak much English he still managed to explain few things and point out some interesting rock formations. The cave has an impressive number of stalagmites and stalactites with some made of limestone. Walking along a narrow path we were pointed to rock formations in the shape of a Buddha in a meditating posture, a number of different elephants and a face of a fat woman.
A few areas are lit up and therefore offer a better chance to admire these rocks which took millions of years to form with one such formation being that resembling a ‘man made’ staircase. Further into the cave we were pointed to rocks having a darker brown color and crystals.
The cave has a large number of bats clinging to the cave’s ceiling, spiders and snakes. Although we saw some small to medium size spiders we did not see any snakes although we did come across a snake skin.
Oddly inside the cave there is an old jeep and the guide explained that this was used in the past to carry the bats’ poop outside the cave or so we understood.
Note: It is important not to touch the stalagmites and stalactites. Best to have own torch.
Dat Fa Waterfall
Entrance to the waterfall is by the national park’s visitor centre and through the forest along a small stream. The waterfall has 8 tiers and the walk up to the third level is easy but gets difficult from then on as the path is no longer clear and over uneven sloped edges. Best to speak to a guide at the visitor centre that can take you to the other waterfalls. The climb up to other levels is sometimes over slippery rocks so will require proper shoes.
For the outdoor lovers it is possible to hike to the top tier of the waterfall through a 15 km nature trail starting from Mount Khao Nam Toei. The walk through this route takes 2 days with a 1 night stay in the forest.
The waterfall’s pool at the third level is suitable for swimming (best to swim with water shoes because of leeches) where the water is fresh and full of fish that nibbles at your feet. Water comes down over the rocks with some speed and swimming to just under the waterfall is amazing and breathtaking.
All the other visitors were locals and some even shared their lunch including rice cooked in bamboo sticks with us which by that time we were hungry since we did not find any food stall on the way or at the waterfall.
Other attractions in Tai Rom Yen National Park
This is the highest mountain in Surat Thani and activities here include hiking and bird and butterfly watching.
A 7-tiered waterfall with a beautiful pool.
Getting to Tai Rom Yen National Park
The best way of getting to Tai Rom Yen National Park is by own transport or hiring a car with a driver for a day. We hired a scooter in Surat Thani city centre and drove to Kamin Cave and then to Dat Fa waterfall. The roads were fairly good with no traffic.
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