One of the most popular tourist attractions in Kanchanaburi is Erawan Waterfall. Erawan National Park is located in West Thailand in the Tenasserim Hills range of the Kanchanaburi Province, about a 4-hour drive from the busy city of Bangkok. Erawan is well-known for its seven separate tiers of stunning blue waters. Besides the waterfall, Erawan National Park also has a handful of limestone caves that people can explore.
The park and the falls are named after the three-headed white elephant of Hindu mythology, “Erawan”. At the falls itself, if you are lucky you might see some crab-eating macaques, bats and wild boars roaming around and you can’t forget about the street dogs. I guess these should be called the falls dogs since they live in the park. Deeper into the national park, some more exciting animals like Assam macaques, sambar deer, great horn-bills, Asian elephants, and gibbons can be found.
Getting to the Park
The park is fairly close to the main town in Kanchanaburi, you could take a bus directly from town to the falls. Taxis are available from town or you could rent a bike in town and drive yourself to the falls. If you do this, make sure you wear your helmet. The drive is very easy and straightforward so don’t feel nervous about driving, it is about a 40-minute drive from the main town area.
Erawan waterfall is duel priced being 300 Baht for foreigners and 100 baht for Thai citizens, they will not accept any Thai drivers licences, work permits or visas for a discount. It is expensive, especially if you have a big family but I think it is worth it.
There is a large car park in the lower levels of the fall, there are plenty of places to park. There are toilets and a few shops and restaurants located next to the car park.
Dog’s are not allowed in the falls. If you take your pet with you it would have to stay in the car park or you can rent a dog cage. When I say dog cage, I mean a cage. It is a tiny little cage that you would have to leave your dog in, so please don’t bring your dogs with you.
There is a short walk from the car park to the start of the falls. If you don’t want to do this walk, you can pay for a golf cart to drive you to and from the start of the falls, If I remember correctly it was around 30 baht person. I normally walk on the way there and then get the golf cart on the way back to the car park once I’m tired.
The 7-tiers of the Waterfalls
Thailand has many beautiful waterfalls but Erawan is unique in its way, it has 7 tiers and as you go further up the waterfall each tier becomes more breathtakingly beautiful. Each Tier has its own name:
- Lai Kun Rang
- Wang Mat Cha
- Pha Nam Tok
- Oke Nang Phee Sue
- Buar Mai Long
- Dong Pruk Sa
- Phu Pha Erawan
Tier 1, 2 and 4 tend to be most popular for swimming and children. You can borrow a life jacket if you would like to swim and you are a bit worried about the depth. You can swim in all of the tiers but these three tend to be the most popular. Tier 7 is right at the very top, 1550 meters above sea level. The walk up used to be quite dangerous and more like free climbing but they have recently just installed a wooden walkway right to the top to make it accessible to more people. The water in tier 7 is stunning, with crystal blue waters and looming mountains overhead. there tends to be a lot of wasps flying around this area though and it is always quite busy once it hits the afternoon.
Personally, my favourite two tiers are tier 3 and 5! Tier 3 has a lovely big waterfall and a big pool area where you can swim. It truly is stunning, tier 5 had many smaller waterfalls and two pool areas that you can swim in. It looks like something out of a magical movie. The higher up you walk the more chances you have of seeing the monkeys as well!
If you are worried about walking to the top don’t be! Take it in your stride and don’t rush. Tiers 1-3 are very easy to walk to, after tier 3 there are some stairs that you have to climb. These are steep so be careful. My husband likes to run up these stairs and then there is me, left at the bottom dragging myself up! Once you have made it up these horrible stairs, if you continue walking a little bit further there is a seating area with the most inedible view!
Those stairs to hell are worth it once you see that view! Here is a top tip, at tier 2, if you want to pass up they will take your water bottle off you. This is to try and stop littering. They will give you a number and collect it on the way out again. If you NEED water like me because it is hot and you’re not used to walking like this, then hide the water bottle in your bag. they don’t check your bags, just don’t litter and bring any rubbish back out with you.
Here are my top tips for visiting Erawan Waterfall:
- Visit during the weekday if you can and arrive early. The park opens at 8 am so arrive around that time. The earlier you arrive, the quieter the park will be.
- Take water bottles and drinks with you, hide them in your bag once you get to the second tier. Do not litter in the park, put your trash in the bins or take it home with you.
- Don’t eat in the restaurants inside the park, stop at the restaurants before you enter the park. The last two restaurants in the little village before you turn into the park have delicious food and an incredible view!
- Don’t walk around the park in your bikini or without your shirt on, you’ll see signs warning you of this at the being of the walk.
- Use the toilet on tier 2 because there is no other toilet once you pass this one. Don’t do a me and get to tier 5 and feel like you are going to die because you need to go to the toilet and have to run all the way down the mountain!
- Before you leave the park, turn left and drive up to the Sinakharin Dam. The view is breathtaking, it is one of my favourite views in Kanchanaburi!
- Bring your camera and have fun!