× The park is the third largest in Thailand. It covers an area of 300 square kilometers, including tropical seasonal forests and grasslands. Its altitude mostly ranges from 400–1,000 m above sea level. There are 3,000 species of plants, 320 species of birds, and 67 species of mammals, recording in this, Thailand's most famous National Park.

Wang Bon Reservoir area, Than Rattana and Heo Prathun Waterfalls

23 May 2021 01:35 - 29 Mar 2022 11:45 #5638 by wvwv
 

I'm not sure if Wang Bon Reservoir is run by the national park or not.  The land is presumably national park land because it is part of Khao Yai forest, but the fee structure seems completely different.  Entry is free, which happens occasionally in other national parks, but the fee to rent tents is 50 baht, which is much cheaper than usual.  Also there doesn't seem to be any charge to take your own tent and use the facilities there, whereas in national parks that's always 30 baht per person per night.  When I went it was closed for covid, but there was nobody about so I went in and had a look around.  Normally they will rent you kayaks for 50 baht to paddle across the lake to a small waterfall (Yai Phao WF).  It would be a good place to camp for a night, perhaps on a Friday, before heading into Khao Yai for the weekend.  On the west side of the lake there are the remnants of a neglected trail which I think was used for the Wang Bon Trail event which last ran in 2019.  You could follow it for a while before it became a bit confusing.  There were fig trees and kraton/santol trees fruiting and some elephant footprints on the edges of the lake.

 

 

 

Over at the end of the dam wall there is an interesting trail, not marked in any way.  It is not inside the barrier so even if the camping area etc is closed you should still be able to get there.  This trail leads to the main road through Khao Yai, bypassing the southern entrance checkpoint.  It is only about 1-2km in length.  The first few hundred metres is not easy because there are many trails all over, but after that most of them seem to merge into one and then it becomes easy to follow until you reach the road.  There are a couple of mud baths at the side of the trail and there was elephant activity everywhere.

 

It slopes gently uphill all the way.  You join the road about 3km inside the park at nowhere in particular, I'm not sure why the trail is in relatively good shape because it doesn't really go to a destination.  I read trekking is amongst the activities offered at Wang Bon as well as the kayaking, so perhaps staff use this trail for that.  Perhaps they do it as a loop - coming back out via the road and then driving back to Wang Bon through the villages.

 

The GPS track is in the next post if anybody wants to try it.  The first time I managed it without any track or guide but that initial part I mentioned took me a little while, it was almost a maze of tracks, probably mostly animal tracks.  I was just trying to head in the direction of the road as straight as possible.  It would be easier with the GPS track.




Also on my last trip I managed to get to Heo Prathun Waterfall for the first time, this is the last one of the trio of waterfalls on the same stretch of river; Heaw Suwat - Heo Sai - Heo Prathun.  Does anybody know what Heaw means and are Heo and Heaw the same word?

Heo Sai is reached easily enough by starting at the bottom of the steps at Haew Suwat, about 50 metres from the waterfall itself.  Where the steps finish, take a left, walking away from Heaw Suwat WF, and follow the trail or the riverbed for about 1km.  Heo Prathun is another 1km from Heo Sai but the trail is not so obvious (I mostly walked along the river bed) and I think it is more commonly reached via the long 8km Visitor Centre to Haew Suwat Trail.  To save time it would be best to start from the Heaw Suwat end, the trailhead is shown here:

 

There is no marking where to turn off the main trail to get to the waterfall and you wouldn't notice the path without the GPS track (in next post).  On the way back I found the path leading up to the 8km trail and so that was easy going back to Heaw Suwat.  Heo Sai and Heo Prathun are very similar waterfalls in terms of height and width.  Both are about half the height of Heaw Suwat and both have swimmable pools.  I went in dry season so very little water.  I've been to Heo Sai many times and never met anybody else there.  A nice place to relax.  By the way that 8km trail is supposed to have a guide to accompany you.  This is Heo Prathun (not much water in dry season).

 

And from the top of the waterfall looking down:

 

Heo Sai in rainy season:

 
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23 May 2021 02:31 - 23 May 2021 02:45 #5639 by wvwv
Wang Bon trail GPX track:

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Heo Prathun / Heo Sai GPX:

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Some more pics (phone camera) from 2 day trip to Khao Yai:



 







Saw quite a few gaur at Nong Pak Chi at 5.30am but I didn't have a camera with me so didn't bother walking over, I've seen them there 4-5 times now.  Particularly in the mornings they seem to regularly be chomping on the grass but you have to get there early; by 7am they've gone.  Also I had a walk down the Manao Waterfall Trail but it's in bad shape now, not possible to follow I would say, unless you know it very well.  I turned around at the first river crossing, still a long way from Manao WF.
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24 May 2021 06:38 #5641 by Paul T
Great write-ups and directions as always! Cheers.

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29 Mar 2022 10:21 - 29 Mar 2022 12:17 #5771 by wvwv
 
I planned to cycle into Khao Yai this weekend just gone but didn't have the energy after cycling 50km from the other side of Nakhon Nayok.  The sun and heat is brutal at this time of year, I should have taken that into account and cycled early morning or late evening.  I resigned to staying around Wang Bon area before heading back to Bangkok the next day.

Than Rattana WF on first glance is easily written off as another Thai 'waterfall' that is actually more of a stream with a few small drops of water.  That's what I did when I first checked it out a few years ago.  It's a 20-metre walk down some steps from the main road, and there is only significant water in rainy season.  It doesn't even have an English sign or a carpark but this understated appearance is deceptive because there is a lot going on downstream if you are prepared to adventure a little.

 

When Googling the name you are presented with a bunch of images of people abseiling down various levels of a waterfall, which doesn't compute as you stand there looking at a 1-metre cascade of water.  Unless you come in peak rainy season or after heavy rain, the riverbed should be wide enough to wander comfortably downstream 500m where you will find the first proper waterfall and things start to slot into place.  To my knowledge there is no trail for this first part; you have to go via the riverbed.  This makes sense if we consider that organised groups are abseiling down the waterfalls - they are already drenched (or about to be drenched) and are probably walking down the riverbed for the most part too.

 

  

On my visit there was only a trickle of water and it was much easier for me to scramble down some of these drops than it would be if there was a stronger flow - in that case you might have to cut into the forest occasionally before rejoining the riverbed.  I swam across one of the pools rather than enter the forest and it was still deep enough for me not to be able to stand.  Looking at photos of the abseiling groups, it seems they are choosing times of year to do it when there is water, but not too much water that it might become too slippery and dangerous.  I think late December, January, possibly into February would be ideal, and maybe late May into June.

Another 500m or so downstream and you get to the top of a much larger drop, and there isn't any obvious way down from either side of the river bank.  This water has cut out a really impressive hollow in the mountain which reminds me of Haew Narok.  I can imagine in rainy season it would fill up like a bath.

 

 

You can scramble down using vines as ropes but if you approach it from the top as I did it won't be obvious and I only figured out that route on the way back up on the return journey, after I had gone back and found a trail (sometimes clear, sometimes not) through the forest.  When I was trying to find the way down I got my first view over Wang Bon Reservoir and the fringes of Khao Yai.

 

Immediately after that drop there is another, which is more easily traversed, and then after that it is quite flat until you get to Wang Bon reservoir.

 

 

 

I noticed a few of the climbing fixings at various places on the route.

When the river joins the reservoir there is a final waterfall which you can see on these TAT promotional images:

 

This is the same waterfall mentioned at the start of this thread which is often kayaked to.  It's called Yai Phao WF.

This is definitely a river system I'd like to check out properly when there is some water!  For a hardcore adventure you could start at Wang Bon, walk around the edge of the reservoir (or swim) to the first waterfall, walk all the way up the riverbed to the road, walk 2km down the road and cut back through the forest to Wang Bon using the trail mentioned at the start of the thread.  Remember this is all national park so staff would probably be interested if they saw you swimming across the lake or walking on the Khao Yai road without a vehicle.  To confirm it is possible to go up or down without abseiling and without forging much of a path through the forest, but that one section at the highest drop where you have to use vines to pull yourself up is a bit technical/sketchy, and you can't see the route properly if lowering yourself down because it's almost vertical in parts.  I noticed some hoof prints in the sand next to the river near the road, probably deer, and some small elephant prints again in the sand but this time nearer the reservoir.

Here is the TAT description of the abseiling walk, the website is not coded well and the maximum drop height of 70m is at least 50% exaggerated:  adventure.tourismthailand.org/eng/rock-c.../namtok-than-rattana

As of March 2022 Wang Bon kayaking and camping area is shut but still staffed, the HQ area looks dilapidated and the barrier is often closed.  It's been that way since covid.  People seem to be allowed to walk in or scooter around the barrier, and the actual dam viewpoint is before the barrier anyway.  On weekends the viewpoint is full of bikes and cars playing loud music from sunset until late.
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29 Mar 2022 12:03 #5772 by wvwv
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29 Jul 2022 11:18 #5818 by wvwv
Went again end of July, heavy rain in the 2 days prior so I think this is about as much water as you can expect.

This is the level that you can't easily climb down.  I went up and down using the vines/tree roots route again but that was much harder than I remembered it, it's recommend to go into the forest.



 

This is nearer the top so if walking from the road it is easy to get to this point.  Plenty of small cascades of water like this before you get to the bigger drops:

 

This is the first tricky point.  It doesn't look like much but the rocks are really slippery and you can't just jump in the water because it's not clear - you can't see what's underneath the surface. 

 

The better waterfalls are further down.  Max height about 20 metres:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wear good shoes and be careful with the slippery rocks!
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