Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, directly translating to "Mountain of 300 peaks", was founded in 1966 and is Thailand's first coastal national park. The park is a 98km² in area and features loads of attractions. Although you may be eager to head straight to the islands in the south, this park should not be missed!
Where to stay
There are a few options for accommodation right within the park. Depending on your budget, you can stay in the nicer resorts, the bungalows along the coast, or to get the most bang for your baht (and get what I believe to be the best experience of the three ), you can rent a two-person tent and camp right on the beach for 200 baht a night!
Things to do
Explore Some Caves: Perhaps the most unique feature of Khao Sam Roi Yot is the Sai and Kaeo stalagmite/stalactite caves. You'll need a headlamp or a flashlight to venture into these massively haunting caves, because once you climb down past the entrance, it becomes almost pitch black (you can rent them for 40 baht at the entrance).
Camp At Laem Sala Beach: If I had to choose my favorite thing to do in the park, it would be this. After a few too many days of partying on Khao San Road I found this calm, beautiful beach to be exactly what was needed. You can rent a two person tent there for 100 per person, and there's a small restaurant right on the beach. However, the best part of camping here is being able to truly escape the hustle and bustle of the backpacker trail in Thailand. There are rarely other people staying overnight on Laem Sala Beach, and when there are, they usually stay in the bungalows, essentially allowing you to have your own private beach!
Camping at beautiful Laem Sala Beach
See A Beautiful Pavilion...Inside A Cave! Phraya Nakhon Cave (which is actually two connected sinkholes) hosts quite possibly the most incredible sight I've seen in Thailand. After a 30 minute hike from Laem Sala Beach, you'll come across the Kuha Karuhas pavilion, created in the 19th century for the visit of King Chulalongkorn the Great (Rama V). Because the roofs of the caves are open, rain and sun have allowed towering trees to exist inside the chambers. Moreover, If you can get to there earlier in the morning, you'll be able to see the sun cascading down directly on the pavilion and perhaps more importantly, you'll be able to beat the hoards of tourists who arrive with the first waves of boats to the path's entrance (this is the most popular place to visit in the park).
Caves abound in Sam Roi Yot National Park
Khao Daeng Viewpoint: If you're up for a short - but steep - hike, make sure to also check out the Khao Daeng Viewpoint. From the top you can see the breathtaking limestone mountains to the west and the coastline to the east.
See The Monkeys In The Mangroves: Just a bit further down the road from Khao Daeng Viewpoint, you'll find The Mangrove Forest Nature Trail. Admittedly, the mangroves aren't what they used to be, and the boardwalk is in pretty bad shape. But despite the less-than-stellar condition of the area, you can rent kayaks for about 150 baht per person and make your way through the remaining mangroves (which are still quite beautiful). The best part of the trail, however, are the monkeys that will curiously follow you through the trees. Being able to get so close to of one of the dwindling macaque monkey in the area, which still live in the wild here, is worth the trip.
Eat Local! Try Squid! There are tons of places to eat around the park, and since the park is so close to the water, seafood is served fresh daily. When camping on Laem Sala Beach, you'll be able to see almost a dozen squid boats in the distance every night. So when you're there, try some squid; you probably saw exactly where it came from!
How to Get There
From Bangkok: Take a bus from the southern bus terminal to Pranburi. Then either take a songthaew to Bang Pu, a small village centrally located in the park. However, I highly recommend that you rent a motorbike near Pranburi and drive yourself to the park. Since the park is rather large, it's convenient to have your own wheels (which should run you ~200 baht per day)
Where to Head Next?
Heading North: About 40km north of the park, you'll come across the coastal city of Hua Hin. The city has a wonderful night market and is the best place to catch a bus back north to Bangkok.
Heading South: Grab a mini bus (from Pranburi) to Chumpon where you can catch a ferry to Koh Tao, one of the best scuba diving destinations in the world! If scuba isn't your cup of tea, you can continue south to the party island of Koh Phangan, or even further to Malaysia and beyond.
Written by: Hey! My name is Mike! I'm 22 years young and after graduating college, I decided to hold off on finding a career in order to backpack Southeast Asia.