“ Country: Thailand / Region: Asia „
INTRODUCTION On a recent visit to Thailand me and my husband decided to take in as many sights as possible. There are some stunning sights and attractions to be had all over Thailand, but for us Kanchanaburi was the place that offered the best of the bunch as far as we were concerned. We only stayed in Kancahnaburi for three days, so we had an action packed visit. I personally feel we could have stayed much longer as we did not get to see everything we wanted to during our stay, so the next time we visit we will have to extend the stay. I cannot say which attraction was the best for me as all of them hold some strong and special memories, however the trip we took to Sai Yok National Park is one that will never leave me. SAI YOK NATIONAL PARK Sai Yok National park is set in over five hundred square kilometres of wilderness and The National park itself is one of the most accessible National Parks in Thailand, as it can be reached easily from major locations such as Bangkok very easily, without having to travel for hours on end. I do admit that Sai Yok is not as well maintained as some of the other National parks located around Thailand. This is down to the lack of footpaths, bins, signs and tourist information, but the prices reflect this and the park admission fees are much cheaper than all of the other parks, as they only charge 200 Baht (£4.00) per person for a day's entry. Even though the National park is poorly run, you still have to make the visit as the scenery and wildlife alone makes it more than worthwhile. If anyone has seen the 1978 movie The Deer Hunter, then you can imagine what this National park looks like as Sai Yok was where the movie was filmed. WHAT SAI YOK HAS TO OFFER Sai Yok is well known for many reasons and here I am going to tell you what to expect from this stunning Park. The main attraction that draws tourists to the park is an amazing waterfall, local Thai's call it Sai Yok Yai waterfall although they don't seem to see it as a waterfall they class it as a cascading creek river, that empties itself in to the river (Mea Nam Khwae) below the falls. I personally have no doubt in my mind that this is a waterfall, however I can see this waterfalls insignificance after I had visited the nearby Erawan Falls which is one of the world's best seven tier waterfalls, so yes the Sai Yok does look very small in comparison but equally as stunning. The waterfall is set at the entrance of the park and all of the other advantages of the park are located behind and around the land surrounding the waterfall. To get the best advantage point for photographs you can stand on the suspension bridge that was built across the Mea Nam Khwae River to get the most stunning shots. If you are not a photographer then you can always climb up the side of the waterfall to take a swim in the pools and springs that surround the focal point of the waterfall. If you are brave enough to take the full brunt of the water fall you can walk through it to enter some stunning limestone caves. The caves themselves are well worth getting wet for, however this ended up costing us a small fortune as my husband lost his wedding ring. The sheer force of the water allowed it to slip off and then cascade down the falls and into the Khwae River. I was less than impressed at the time, but now it is one of those memories I will never forget, the look on my husband's face was priceless. He thought I was going to kill him. If you are slightly more adventurous you can actually climb up the side of a smaller fall, located at the side of the bigger waterfall. If you manage to scale the waterfall you can walk for roughly three kilometres to find some wildlife living in the bat caves. If you decide to take on the waterfall and the bat cave walk, then you will have to have your wits about you as the paths are not sign posted and to be honest the trail itself is very muddy and hard to follow. I strongly recommend you take a guide with you if you want to walk around the park alone. To the right of the Sai Yok Waterfall you will find the old Nam Tok Railway, which was part of the Thailand Burma railway track that was erected during world war two. During the end of the war the Nam Tok station was relocated a few miles away. There is an old train and a few railway sleepers that still stand at the old station at Sai Yok, but you can't really understand why of how it became as to only information was printed in Thai. So for me this was a real let down, as I was really interested in the Thailand / Burma railways history. The National park boasts about its wide range of wildlife, which include Hog nosed bats which are known as the world's smallest mammals, Regal crabs, gibbons, Malayan Porcupines and hornbills. We actually got to see the Hogs bats and yes they are very tiny, but I could not swear they were the smallest mammal I have never seen. We also caught a glimpse at a wild gibbon, who was very used to the place being populated as it was begging tourists for bananas. However the locals who had make shift food and Souvernier stalls at the bottom of the waterfall, were selling Bananas for 20 Baht (40p in our money) so I am confident the gibbon was a pet and they were just trying to make some money out of the tourists, but for 20Baht I didn't complain. LOCATION OF SOI YOK If you are located in Kancahnaburi you can access the park within thirty minutes, as it is only a hundred kilometres away. We found that the best way to visit the National Park was with and organised tour, this way you will get and English speaking guide who will show you the park and its attractions, without you getting lost along the way. You can go book tours from any hotel of travel shop within Kanchanaburi, You can also get a tour package within Bangkok however these tend to be much more expensive. So I strongly recommend you wait until you arrive in Kanchanaburi as you can get tours for as little as 200 Baht (£4.00) per person. You will pay this just to enter the national park so why not get your travel and other sites around Kanchanaburi for a much better price. If you decide to visit the park by you own means, then you can catch the Sangkhlaburi-Kanchanaburi public bus from Kanchanaburi for 50 Baht (£1.00). This is very cheap but the bus takes two hours to reach the falls and the last on to return passes the falls at 3pm, so I would be very reluctant to do this as it is reported that the bus is not to reliable. MY OPINION Me and my husband got some stunning pictures that we will always treasure, I have also captured the moment he lost his wedding ring, so for that I am so grateful to my little lumix. This is a picture I will use to my advantage for many years to come. Sai Yok is very small in comparison to Thailand's other National Parks, which is not really a bad thing as it does not seem to attract as many tourists. We found that is only attracted small tour groups of up to ten at a time, so you found that you could take nice pictures without rude people walking in to them. The scenery is breath taking and the waterfall is really beautiful, so I strongly recommend that you give Sai Yok a visit as it can be done very cheaply if you are already within the Kanchanburi area.