Sai Yok National Park in Kanchanaburi, Thailand
The 958 km² Sai Yok National Park is located in the Sai Yok District of Kanchanaburi Province, about 100 km northwest of Kanchanaburi City. Sai Yok National Park is a popular destination for both locals and tourists. The park is well-known for its waterfalls, caves, historical sites, limestone mountains and two extremely rare animal species. Numerous sights in the park are easy to explore independently due to the well-marked an maintained trails. Compared to Erawan Nation Park, the Sai Yok National Park is much less crowded. Click on this link to read about Erawan National Park and its attractions.
Sai Yok National Park’s wildlife
Sai Yok National Park is home to many different animal species. But, since the area around the visitor centre is quite commercialized the chances to see the more interesting animals are quite rare. Most of the interesting animal species hold to more remote areas along the border to Myanmar.
If you are really lucky you can spot two rare, unique and interesting animal species in Sai Yok National Park. One of them is the world’s smallest mammal, the very rare Kitti’s hog-nosed bat. This bat weighs around two grams, has about a three cm body length and a wing-span up to ten cm. The bad is named after the first person ever who spotted this animal in 1973, Kitti Thonglongva. The Kitti’s hog-nosed bats can be found, along with many other bats, at Tham Kang Kao (Bat Cave), which is about two km away from the visitor centre.
The other one is the colorful Rachinee crab, in the colors of red, white and blue. This unique and interesting animal species was discovered in 1983.
Attractions in Sai Yok National Park
The visitor centre is situated 100 km northwest from Kanchanaburi, 19 km north of Hellfire Pass and three km from the highway 323 next to the Kwae Noi River. The visitor centre area has a campsite, bungalows, private raft houses, food stalls, restaurants, floating restaurants and number of attractions easily accessible by short hiking.
There are few shorter trails up to two km around the visitor centre area leading to caves, remains of the Death Railway Bridge, natural spring, riverside viewpoints and waterfalls. There is no guide requirement to walk the short trails.
In Sai Yok National Park two waterfalls can be found, the Sai Yok Yai waterfall and the Sai Yok Lek waterfall. The Sai Yok Yai is located right next to the suspension bridge close to the visitor centre area. The Sai Yok Lek waterfall is located down-streams, about 300 m further. Stunning view points at the opposite side of each waterfall are accessible, which provide great views over both of the waterfalls.
Another waterfall, the Sai Yok Noi waterfall, is located right outside the boundaries of the Sai Yok National Park. This limestone waterfall can be found only a couple of km north of the Nam Tok Railway Station. This waterfall is taller than the Sai Yok Yai and Sai Yok Lek waterfalls, but with less water. This waterfall is arguably more beautiful and tourist-friendly.
The best time to visit the waterfalls is during rainy season, from June forward, when the water flow is best. Although, it is still worth visiting the waterfalls despite staying in Kanchanaburi during another season.
Besides the waterfalls, Sai Yok National Park is also home to many caves. Located nearby the visitor centre, four interesting caves can be found. Do not forget to bring a flashlight with you when you are going to visit a cave.
The following caves are located around the visitor centre: Dao Wadung Cave, Kang Kao Cave, Wang Badan Cave and Lawa Cave. The Dao Wadung Cave was discovered in 1972 and is about 100 m deep. The cave contains eight chambers, consisting of rocks, stalagmite and stalactite formations. The Kang Kao Cave is the cave where the very rare Kitti’s hog-nosed bat can be found, as described earlier. The Wang Badan Cave is a 500 m deep, two storey cave, which is accessible from the Sai Yok Noi waterfall area. The Wang Badan Cave consists of stalagmite and stalactite formations and has a water stream running through one of the chambers. Finally, the Lawa Cave, this is one of the most impressive caves of Sai Yok National Park. The Lawa Cave is 500 m deep and contains big chambers consisting of large stalagmite and stalactite formations.