One of the best things about being in Phang Nga province in Thailand, apart from the beautiful beaches, is the amount of national parks and wild areas to explore. Out of all of these, Sri Phang-Nga National Park was absolutely one of my favourite places to visit, and here’s why:
The amazing thing about this park was how many of Thailand’s beautiful butterfly species you can see (we documented over 70 species from our visits). If you’re looking for butterflies you can start your hunt around the visitors center where the vibrant red blooms of the Jungle Glory (dok khem in Thai) attract numerous species.
The bushes are also home to a few Lizard species, which you can see sunbathing on top of the dense foliage or watching over their territories and performing the occasional territorial head nod.
After checking out the wildlife around the visitor center you can head deeper into the park, down the road, through the jungle to the second parking area . You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the sign below.
Just below the car park, the streams from the park’s two waterfalls meet and the cool clear waters are ideal places for a refreshing dip, and an even better place to get up close with some more wildlife; this time some gargantuan Soro Brook Carp (Neolissochilus soroides).For the more adventurous types, bring your swimming goggles or snorkeling mask to get up close and personal with these gentle giants.
After you’ve cooled off, you can follow the well-maintained path (left from the national park sign) which is only a short walk to the towering Tamnang Waterfall. The waterfall can vary from a gentle flow (below left) in the dry season to a heavy torrent during the rainy season (below right).
After the waterfall, you can head back up the path to the car park and maybe stop at one of the small huts or picnic tables for a quick break before you head down the next trail. If you’re lucky, you may be joined by some ‘mud puddling’ butterflies (below) or a gecko or two watching from the rafters.
After a quick break, head right from the park sign and you’ll see a path leading through the trees, left of the toilet block.
This path leads you through the jungle to the smaller more peaceful Ton Deng Waterfall. The path is over tree roots and rocks and involves crossing the river twice, something I would not recommend during the height of the rainy season when the waters are flowing fast and high.
The trail is another great opportunity to spot some wildlife and is a popular spot with birders, and there certainly are a lot to see if you look carefully enough. If you are fortunate you might catch a glimpse of the beautiful Malayan Banded Pitta, the “King of the Forest” or a lumbering hornbill passing overhead with their characteristic ‘puffing’ flight like a steam train pulling away from the station.
Personally, I’m not much of a bird spotter but if you’re lucky you might get to spot some of the more shy species the park has to offer, like these snakes we spotted on the banks of the stream running alongside the path.
If you keep following the path, eventually you’ll reach a flight of stairs that lead down to a clearing where you’ll see the waterfall which, in the dry season, is often not much more than a trickle of water over the rocks.
Time for another dip, this time with some smaller fish and maybe even a Tire Track Eel (Mastacembelus armatus).
After you’ve cooled off, it’s time to head back towards the car park, but don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for the gibbons and langurs that call this park home. The piercing cries of the Lar Gibbons from high up in thee trees is something that I’ll always remember.
If you’re ever in Phang Nga province and you’re looking for a day trip out in the wilds of Thailand, this national park is definitely the place to be.
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