The largest national park in Thailand is located in Petchaburi Province south of Bangkok and on the way to Cha Am and Hua Hin. It is very accessible (but poorly signposted) at about 3 hours from Bangkok. I was amazed how quiet is was. I suppose most bypass and head on down to the beaches.
We spent two nights over Christmas there staying in one of the excellent Thai National Park bungalows. We are big fans. No frills but clean, cheap and generally well situated. Our bungalow was at the park HQ by Kaeng Krachan dam. The dam creates a lake covering an area of over 46 km2 (officially) The water levels were worryingly low given this was just at the end of the rainy season.
We were on the road at 5 AM on Christmas eve in one of the national park 4 x 4 pick-ups and you certainly need one to get up to the Khao Panoen Thung viewpoint just over 1,000 metres above sea level. The peak itself is 1,200 metres. The last third of the 2 hour journey was on graded track and was extremely steep. Not surprisingly it is closed during the rainy season.
Quite a lot of wild life to be seen. We saw (and heard); Duskyleaf Monkeys, Gibbons, Mountjac and (my personal highlight) a flock of Asian Pied Hornbills. Unfortunately we didn’t see any leopards (for which the park is famous), or, and probably fortunately, snakes. When we were leaving one of the attendants said that cobras were commonly to be found nearby the bungalows. They hadn’t told us that when we arrived. If you stay at a national park bungalow be sure to shut your bedroom door at nights.
I am a poor photographer and my camera is outdated and bettered by most mobile phones nowadays. I did manage at least to take a reasonable picture of something that wasn’t moving and/or high up in the trees:
Our guide spotted this beside the track. An excellent spot because the flower was only a little over 15 cm across and it is rare. It was a Sapria himalayana a root parasite completely dependent on its host plant for water and nutrients. It is related to the more famous Rafflesia to be found in Malaysia and further south in Thailand but of a different species.
I would like to go back to Kaeng Krachan to do some more treks and this time armed with a better camera.