Erawan National park in Thailand has a whole array of experiences of a lifetime !!
Be it a walk through emerald crystal clear pools, fishes ready to nibble your feet away, hiking through a jungle trail, looking at flora and fauna, swimming through the cold waters !!
The name itself captures a mystery.
According to Hindu Mythology, Erawan stands for ‘Airavatha,’ and the three-headed elephant is the vehicle of Lord Indra.
The seventh tier of the waterfalls resembles that of the three-headed Erawan that the national park itself is named the Erawan National Park. It holds as there are seven tiers that you can hike up to.
The falls are beautiful because of the limestone formations and water flowing through it, giving out many colors.
The park is about 70km away from Kanchanaburi. You can either stay at Kanchanaburi and drive down here. Or you can stay at swanky resorts facing river Kwai or at Sai Yok national park and visit here. It is also done as a day trip from Bangkok, but there is more to explore around Kanchanaburi, so plan some nights here. I was staying at Kanchanaburi and did a day tour that combines Erawan National.
Erawan Falls at Erawan National Park
Erawan falls the prime focus of the Erawan National Park. I am giving a fair warning that water in the falls is subjected to the season you visit. Also, all pictures that google throws up may be deceiving. It was a little disappointing to be there in late July when it was the monsoon time, and it was still majorly dry in the upper tiers.
The falls have seven tiers. The first three are pretty easy to climb and are full of people. These are the tiers that have clear water too. I guess that probably this being a prime tourist attraction place and not many people climb up all the levels, and the first three tiers are ensured to be filled with water. The rest are for the adventurers or trekkers, I would say.
It was drizzling when we started from Kanchanaburi and headed towards Erawan National Park. The tar roads got bordered with lush green trees and towering mountains at a distance within some time. The van arrived at the Erawan National Park, and our guide called the entry tickets for us. She walked up until the second tier and then asked us to get back by lunch.
You can spend a day too, but it takes easily half a day to explore. The first tier was nothing!
If the guide did not point it out as a tier, I would have thought it to be a canal or tributary flowing by. It was not emerald in color and looked murky. This is a picnic spot.
By afternoon when I was returning from the hike, I saw many Thai people coming in with packed food and finding a bench along the first tier, spreading out their basket and having their lunch while also chasing away the monkeys.
About 100 meters from there comes the second tier. It is called Wang Macha, meaning’ place of fish’ and is situated at 600m. The second tier looked beautiful. The water was a sight to see. It was cool blue with fishes swimming around, surrounded by greenery. It was maybe around 10 am and there was a pretty good crowd by then. I saw People diving in and enjoying the water.
True to its name, it had plenty of fishes. These are the dead skin-eating fishes that you can see in some of the foot massage parlours. The only difference is that the fishes are as big as your palm or arm. They are huge, and they don’t nibble but bite !!
Nevertheless, on my return, I stopped at this tier, balanced on a rock, and dangled my leg in the waters for the fish to nibble. It was fun.
The third tier was not far too. Another 100m and comes the next level, which is called Pha Namtok. This was very beautiful too. I decided to watch this beauty for a while. But I was also itching to hike the falls. That morning my stomach was churning badly, and I had no strength to get on the tour. So my idea was to see one or two tiers and rest until the group assembled back. But the second and third tiers had impressed me majorly that I decided to hike at least one more level. And, so I started for the next one. A slight deviation, a small bridge to be crossed, and I embarked on the hike.
Like I said, not many people climb the upper tiers. But, Still, you can see a considerable crowd. After the third tier, you cannot carry plastics and need to deposit any such water bottles or baggage that you are having at the counter. After the third tier, it is quite a walk before you come to the fourth tier.
A viewpoint comes up in the middle, opening up to the beautiful valley in front of you. The vastness of the place and the thick vegetation you are hiking dawn on you when you see this.
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I caught my breath for a while and continued to walk up.
The fourth tier was two big rocks and a natural pool that you can swim at. The stones seemed fun as people were trying to slide down the rock into the pool. The rock looked dry for the season, but people were still sliding on it. This tier is called Oke Nang Peesau, meaning the ‘Chest of Butterfly’ because the two rocks resemble it.
However, cheeky men call it the breast of a woman, and that it looks like it and let’s slide down it !! Whatever!
But the fourth tier was not as impressive as the third and second, so I decided to walk one more level up.
From here on, the walk gets a little rough. There is no longer a paved way. The way is very clear but just that it is roots and trees and slopes and some time steep and some time you are on all your fours. There are places like cliffs and some pools on the way, which to me seemed unreachable, and there were signboards not to jump in, and still, I saw one or two in those waters.
I have no idea how they managed to reach there. A slightly smaller pool arrives on the way, and people stopped by to cool, and I wondered if it was the fifth tier. If at all it was, I would not even have written this blog !!
Thankfully it was not the fifth tier, and I continued walking up. On the way were prayer flags fluttering at places, offering prayers to the evil spirits, if any in the forest. Not sure why they think evil spirits should only be women, there were all kinds of women dresses offered and dolls placed like that!!
The fifth tier was grand and beautiful. It showed the lovely limestone formation of the hills, many small tiers collecting water, overflowing them, and flowing down. The rocks are slippery, and the path is muddy, but the pool is beautiful, and many people were taking a dip. I dipped my feet for a while and enjoyed the cool water. Beware of the monkeys if you are solo as if you leave your bag and go for a swim. It may or may not be there when you get back.
I decided to walk back after the fifth tier. The sixth, I heard it had nothing much.
But the seventh tier was very, very beautiful, I believe. The limestone formation was beautiful, and the colors of water too. So if you wish to climb up to the seventh, please do.
By noon I was down. I came after spending more than half an hour dangling my legs in the water and playing with the fishes.
Many combine the trip to Erawan and Sai Yok National Park. I skipped Sai Yok National park altogether from the trip. I had plans, but Erawan itself did not have as much water as I had thought it would have, and Sai Yok is single-tiered, so I did not want to get disappointed. There are plenty of shops around the parking lot that sell souvenirs and food. Our party had lunch here before moving on to the next destination.
Any operator can book this tour at Kanchanaburi. Almost everyone had the same itinerary and pricing for this tour.
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