Few places we’ve seen can claim to be as beautiful as the Erawan Falls, a seven-tiered waterfall near Kanchanaburi. Each of the different tiers is accessible via an adventurous jungle trail. At the bottom is a pool of crystal clear water, through which you can see fishes the naked eye and in which visitors are allowed to take a refreshing dip!
Erawan National Park
After begrudgingly paying the “high” entrance fee (300 Thai Baht per person), we entered Erawan National Park on our motorbike. This waterfall has got to be really something, we thought.
Equipped with our hiking shoes, multi-length pants and our camera, we started on the trail. It became clear pretty quickly that the Erawan Falls wasn’t just any waterfall.
Walking along the dense, green jungle, we noticed crystal clear water dropping over the edge of various slabs of rock and ending up in different streams, in which it was possible to make out the leaves lying on the bottom and schools of fishes swimming past.
Splashing about the clear water were laughing tourists, taking selfies from every possible angle. From a distance, sitting in a tree, a monkey attentively surveyed the scene. Yup, this is paradise alright!
Higher and higher
The bad news is that we weren’t the only ones who had discovered the stunning Erawan Falls. The good news is that there’s a way to avoid having to deal with large parts of the crowd: by climbing to the top. The highest tier, the seventh level one, lies at a height of 1.5 kilometers; about an hour’s climb.
The start of the trail is properly paved, so even visitors wearing slippers and high heels can reach the third tier. Then the trail ends and the climb, over small bridges, rocks, small waterfalls and little steps, becomes more challenging. So make sure you’re wearing sturdy hiking shoes! People will keep pulling out after each tier, which means it will become less and less busy.
And also more and more beautiful! We came across waterfalls that were basically natural slides, so slide we did, all the while screaming at the top of our lungs. There were also waterfalls with beautiful white calcified rocks and trees, lending the streaming water a milky, blue and white glow.
And then of course there was the last waterfall on the seventh tier: a big waterfall with water loudly clattering down large, white rocks. At the bottom is a pool of water with fishes that nibble at your feet. Also, there’s a small cave opening in which you can swim. The true daredevils can climb even higher. They’ll have to brave some slippery rocks after which they can take a refreshing “shower” underneath the cascading water.
Whether you’re a backpacker or traveling with children, the Erawan Falls are an absolute must to visit when you’re in the Kanchanaburi area. Don’t forget your swimming gear, take enough snacks and drinks as well and you can spend an awesome day up there. Do pay attention to the monkeys though. They have been known to snatch things from bags while the owners are swimming.
Opening hours and entrance fee
The Erawan Falls are open to visit every day from 8:00 AM until 4:00 PM. If you want to experience having the park all to yourself, go there early. Because in Thailand it gets dark early, around 3:30 PM a park ranger will go to the seventh tier to remind and help visitors to get down.
The entrance fee is 300 Thai Baht per person (definitely worth it), plus an extra 20 Thai Baht if you come by motorbike. During weekends many locals visit the waterfalls as well so it can get pretty busy. The waterfalls are at their most beautiful during the rainy season.
From Kanchanaburi it’s about a 65 kilometer drive to Erawan National Park. There’s a bus leaving from the bus station every 90 minutes between the hours of 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM to take you straight there.
It takes about an hour and a half to get there and costs 50 Thai Baht per person. The last bus back to Kanchanaburi leaves at 4:00 PM. It’s also possible to join an organized tour, which costs around 600 Thai Baht per person (entrance included). Or do like us and rent a motorbike for around 150 Thai Baht per day, petrol excluded.