If you’ve ever wanted to experience a beautiful river freckled with light, cascading through the lush jungle, you will have a chance to in Phuket, Thailand. While Phuket is known for its beautiful beaches, island hopping, and water sports, it also boasts lovely waterfalls only a short trek inland. It’s true that Phuket doesn’t have waterfalls that remotely compare in size to The Niagara or Victoria Falls, however, they do have a variety of options that are sure to delight. While visiting the waterfalls you will have the opportunity to explore a rainforest, picnic, swim, climb a waterfall, visit a gibbon sanctuary, play guitar, or sit and relax.
The two waterfalls that we visited and thoroughly enjoyed were Kathu and Bang Pae at Khao Phra Thaeo National Park. We rode our motorbike to both and found them easily using GPS. While there are usually fees for the National Park (200 baht per person) and parking (20 baht), we did not pay for either since there wasn’t anyone on duty to collect the fees; this may be due to us going in the offseason and during the week. You should be prepared to pay the fee if you visit. A feature of both waterfalls is the comfortable water temperature that is conducive for swimming; this is unlike many of the waterfalls and rivers we’ve visited in other countries. Most of the waterfalls and rivers tended to be quite cold since they originate from melting snow. While the water was not quite as warm as Kerosene Creek, it was quite comfortable. There are also food vendors at the entrance of both locations if you don’t plan on bringing your own food or drink.
Opening Hours: All year round. Best time to go is around 09:00 – 16:30
Bang Pae, our favorite of the two, offers multiple places where you can swim or picnic. There are many small waterfalls and drop pools, but the gem (a 10-meter high waterfall) is at the top of the trail. Here you can jump off the rocks (go feet first), try to swim against the current if you are pining for some exercise, or attempt to climb up the waterfall. Lucas tried this, and after multiple attempts, he was able to get to the landing spot where you can jump off of (the key is to use the wall for support).
On the way out of the park leave some time to visit the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project. The team there is doing great work for an endangered species and are happy to share with you lots of interesting information about gibbons. It is free (we suggest leaving a donation) and you won’t regret the 20 or so minutes you spend there.
PLEASE DO NOT TAKE PICTURES WITH, OR PAY TO HOLD, THESE BEAUTIFUL CREATURES AROUND PHUKET OR THAILAND. It enables people to further decimate the small population of Gibbons left in the wild.
Kathu is a less dramatic waterfall and more of a series of drop pools. It also has a set of well-maintained stairs to help you explore the various clearings along the river. The stairs are quite numerous and steep so be prepared to sweat a bit. While there aren’t many places to swim along the trail, there are good resting points if you would like to sit by the river and think, meditate, or practice playing your guitar. At the base of the river is the biggest waterfall, and it provides a flat surface to play under the waterfall or capture a great picture. Below the waterfall you can swim as some of the local teens did. We didn’t try swimming so we can’t vouch for the quality of the experience.
- The best time to go is from June to November when there is more rain and the waterfalls are more dramatic.
- Avoid going during a heavy rain as it can be hazardous
- Bring water shoes if you have them as there can be small stones and slippery rocks to traverse.
- Bring mosquito repellent.
- Be mindful of where you leave your belongings while you enjoy the water.
- Go during the week so it is less crowded.
Have you visited either of these waterfalls before? If not, be sure to add it to your bucket list!
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