Erawan National Park was founded in 1975 as Thailand’s 12th National Park. Located northwest of Bangkok, in the Tenasserim Hills of Kanchanaburi Province, it is open to visitors all year round. The park was named after Erawan, a three-headed elephant in Hindu mythology, whom the top tier is thought to resemble.
The highlight of this National Park is the Erawan Waterfalls, a seven-tier waterfall tumbled through the forest where visitors and locals alike bathe beneath these crystalline blue cascading water. Reaching the first three tiers is easy; beyond here, though, strength and determination are needed to complete the steep 2km hike. Keep in mind that most of the swimmers will stay on the first 3 tiers, meaning that you will have more privacy once you arrive at the 4th tier, making this hike totally worth it. Level four has a natural rock slide and level six usually has the fewest swimmers. The total distance from the trailhead up to the top tier is nearly 1.5 km.
Mixed deciduous forest covers over 80% of the park, but there’s also dry evergreen and giant bamboo trees for your amusement. The park is home to several species of animals, such as tigers, elephants, sambar deer, gibbons, red giant flying squirrels, king cobras, hornbills, macaques, water monitor lizards, Indian muntjac, Indochinese serow and wild boars.
Other popular attractions include the Tham Phra That, a cave with a variety of beautiful limestone formations. Geologists find the caves appealing due to a clearly visible fault line. Other lesser-known caves are: Mi Cave (“Mi” means bear in Thai, as it was believed to have been occupied by bears), Reua Cave (though it doesn’t have any stalagmites or stalactites, it’s important for the several coffins that have been found in it) and Wang Bah Dan Cave (a limestone cave with a narrow opening, where a permanent water stream runs through its last chamber).
There are also 2 trails one can follow, should this be of interest. From the visitor center, Mong Lay Dry Trail only takes an hour; for something more challenging, embark on the 5 km-long Khao Hin Lan Pee Trail, a three-hour walk that takes you all the way to the falls’ fifth tier.