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Kaeng Krachan was established as a National Park in 1981 and is the largest in Thailand, covering an area of 2,915 sq kms. Located about 1.5 hrs northwest of Hua Hin, it is an area of outstanding natural beauty that is well worth visiting during your stay.
It straddles the two provinces of Petchaburi and Prachuab Kirikhan and is one of the most important areas in Thailand for flora and fauna. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej has always taken a keen interest in Kaeng Krachan and this has helped conservation in the area enormously.
Contained within its borders are numerous caves, a reservoir, waterfalls, mountains and stunning scenery. It is covered throughout with evergreen forest that supports many important plants and animals - including wild elephants.
Mountains rise to a height of 1,200 meters and are mostly granite, although some are limestone. Importantly, the park is the source of The Petchaburi and Pranburi rivers. In the rainy season from August to October, some areas are closed to visitors for their saftey and to allow the forest to recover.
Kaeng Krachan is found on the eastern slopes of the Tenasserim mountains on the border with Burma (Myanmar). About half of the watershed here flows into the Petchaburi river which goes on to Kaeng Krachan dam and then to the provincial capital of Petchaburi. The other half flows to Pranburi dam and onto Pranburi town. Getting around the park can be difficult as the terrain is very mountainous and rugged. There are only two roads through it, one that leads eventually to Pala-U waterfall and the other that starts some 20 kms from the headquarters and extends 35 kms westward into the heart of the park.
Humidity is always high and it can get cool from November to March with heavy rain at other times of the year, the wettest month being October. Temperatures range from 10-40 degrees celcius (probably even cooler on the tops of some mountains).
Because of its location on at the juncture of continental Asia and peninsular Malaysia, Kaeng Krachan's forest is particularly diverse with large numbers of continental trees including oaks, maples and chestnuts as well as peninsular palms and fruiting trees. In addition to these, you will see many types of hanging lianas, orchids and aerial ferns.
Over 400 spieces of bird and 57 mammals have been recorded within Kaeng Krachan's borders. Of the larger mammals, there are chances to see elephant, guar, sambar, banteng, serow, bear, tiger, leopard, barking deer, tapir, gibbon, langur, wild dog, wild pig and otters. Importants bird life includes hornbill, red junglefowl, peacock-pheasants, stork, black eagles, songbirds and woodpeckers.
Visitors to Kaeng Krachan can choose to relax at headquarters or take a boat trip on the reservoir. For the more adventurous, permission can be obtained to trek for a few days up the Khao Panoen Thung road. Permits must be obtained at headquarters for this and guides will be necessary for any treking off the road. Note also that treking will not be possible during the rainy season when the trails are slippery and dangerous and the road may be impassable. Several bungalows are available for rent and there are camping sites, a restaurant and grocery shops available as well.
Overall, Kaeng Krachan is one of the most important ecological areas in Thailand and a visit here is a must, both for those who want some exciting treking and others who want a more relaxing time.
These fees were last amended on December 1st 2007. There are now four categories of National Park. The first and most expensive will cost a foreign adult THB 400 and a foreign child 200, whereas a Thai adult gains entry for THB 80 and a Thai child 40. These parks are mainly found in southern Thailand around Phuket and the north.
Category 2 will cost THB 200/100/40/20 repectively.
Category 3 will cost THB 100/50/20/10 respectively.
Category 4 are free for all.
In the past, foreigners holding Permanent Residency, a Work Permit, a Thai driving licence or on foreign exchange student status were able to gain entry at Thai prices. If you have one of the above, it will be worth while discussing it with the rangers.
If you visit more than one National Park in a day, there is no additional charge unless any are more expensive than the first, in which case you will pay the difference. The above prices are still current as of January 1st 2011.
Trips to Kaeng Krachan from Hua Hin will take you through spectacular countryside containing pineapple, mango and papaya plantations. On arrival, you will be greeted with the sight of a 46.5 sq km reservoir with a capacity of 710 million cubic meters. It was designed to stem the flow of the Petchburi river. There are a number of islands, the largest of which is approximately 75 sq km.
The park contains primary forest, mountains, spectacular views and a wide variety of wildlife. Organised tours will include entrance fee, English speaking guide, transport, lunch and soft drinks in the price.
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