With a whopping 156 National Parks, Thailand certainly doesn’t suffer from a shortage of protected areas. While many of them are breathtakingly beautiful and certainly well-worth visiting, Nam Tok Phlio National Park in southeastern Thailand’s Chanthaburi Province sets itself apart from the majority by the fact that it’s mainly known to domestic tourists.
I for my part didn’t meet any other Westerners while I was here and rather enjoyed exploring the beautiful surroundings amid delighted Thai families. According to the name, its main claim to fame would be Nam Tok Phlio, a picturesque waterfall rushing down a small cliff in the jungle.
Much more interesting to me were the more serene sections of the river, containing incredible amounts of surprisingly docile Soro Brook Carp. The beautiful rainforest surrounding the river can be explored by following several small trails through the dense forest. Read on for everything you need to know about visiting this off-the-beaten-path gem.
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What to see and do in Nam Tok Phlio National Park
Nam Tok Phlio Waterfall
The National Park’s namesake waterfall is a pretty sight but nothing exactly to write home about in terms of size or water volume. Still, it’s situated in a pretty stretch of rainforest and therefore the location alone makes it a worth-while sight.
On the way to the waterfall have a look at the small stone Along Khong Chedi, which is atmospherically overgrown by moss. It was built in 1876 during the reign of King Rama V. Chulalongkorn to honor Queen Sunandha Kumariratana, one of Chulalongkorn’s wives who died young in a boat accident and loved the waterfall. Also notice the small stone pyramid nearby, which contains some of the Queen’s Ashes.
River and Soro Brook Carp
The calmer sections of the river in between the waterfall and the entrance to the National Park have many pleasant spots to plunk down on one of the smoothed-out rocks, put your feet in the water and watch the many, many Soro Brook Carp swimming around in the clear, shallow water.
This species of fish native to the Mekong River basin also populate the small pool below the waterfall but I preferred the relative peace and quiet of the farther sections of the river.
A small nature trail circles around behind the waterfall and back to the river and takes about 15 minutes to complete. Be careful not to walk into the net of one of the golden orb-weaver spiders, of which I spotted quite a few on the walk.
The park is also home to many of Thailand’s more elusive mammal species, including tigers and bears but it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get to see any of these from the nature trails which don’t penetrate the deeper sections of the park. You’ll have better chances to spot some of the countless bird species, including hornbills and vernal hanging parrots.
How to get to Nam Tok Phlio National Park
Chanthaburi is the ideal base for visits to Nam Tok Phlio National Park. Here you can either rent a scooter and make the 15 minute drive south-east along Highway 3 (in the direction of Trat) yourself or take a Songthaew (truck-taxi) from the northern edge of the main market in the direction of Trat.
Just tell them you want to go to the National Park and the driver will drop you at the turn-off from the highway, from where it’s a 10 minute walk to the Entrance.
On the way back you might have to wait along the highway for a while to get a ride. Chances are, some helpful private car will stop and take you along before one of the rather infrequent Songthaews shows up (which happened to me).
Where to stay near Nam Tok Phlio National Park
Chanthaburi is the closest city and a very convenient base for a half-day trip to the National Park. I stayed at the low budget River Guest House, which I found to be good value for the price, but there are plenty other budget and mid-range options around. You can have a look at this map to find a place suited to your taste.
Where to go next