Thursday, April 19, 2007

Parks & Waterfalls in Phuket
Phuket's natural beauty is not just about the beaches. Often overlooked by tourists are a number of forest reserves and parks, with exotic wildlife and a few modest but pretty waterfalls. Be warned though, if you go during the dry season, these waterfalls may be little more than a trickle.

Khao Phra Thaeo National Park
Located in the north of Phuket, this park contains the only remaining virgin rainforest on the island. The park conserves a number of species of wild animal: langurs, barking deer, mouse deer, bears, wild boar, monkeys and gibbons. About one hundred species of bird also inhabit the forest vegetation, which consists of huge trees, creepers and climbers of every description.

The reserve has several forest trails for hiking and guides can be hired from the reserve office near Ton Sai waterfall. There is also a small museum and information centre.

Bang Pae Waterfall:

Though quite a small cascade, this is Phuket's largest waterfall. The 10 minute walk from the car park through the shady forest is very pleasan. The pond at the base of the waterfall is great for a dip in the cool water.

You can get to Bang Pae by road by taking the exit heading east (Paklok Road) from the Heroines' Monument on Thepkasattri Road, north of Phuket City. After about 9kms there is a left turn next to an elephant trekking camp. There is also an 8km trail through Khao Phra Thaeo National Park from Ton Sai waterfall to Bang Pae if you feel up to it.

Bang Pae is also home to the Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre, an NGO run project which adopts gibbons in captivity and returns them to the wild. The centre can be found near Bang Pae waterfall. See their website for more details:

Ton Sai Waterfall:

Located near the park headquarters at the entrance to the park, this waterfall is not very big but quite scenic. There is also a reasonable restaurant with excellent views if you get hungry.

Getting there:

To get to Khao Phra Thaeo National Park, head north on Thepkasattri Road from Phuket City for about 20kms until you reach the main intersection at Thalang. Take the road heading east, which cuts through rubber plantations for about 7kms until it reaches the Forestry Department checkpoint.

More info.

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