After our daring escape from the police road block on the motorbike, we were off to Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. It is one of the top sights in Thailand and only 40 miles away from our house sit in Hua Hin. The drive was wonderful, with views of both small farming villages among the hills and modern beach-resorts along the coast. After a little over an hour’s drive, we had arrived.
Sam Roi Yot Beach
Our first stop at Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park was to the beach, one of three we visited that day. Sam Roi Yat beach was quite long and very flat, with plenty of space for walking around in the sunshine. Several islands lay just off the coast, all of which looked like they’d be fabulous for a day trip and picnic, if you have access to a boat. There’s a road that runs along next to the beach, with little locally-run shacks selling ice creams, teas, and other tasty treats. The other side of the road was lined with restaurants and bars, each with a little parking area. It’s easy to imagine this area being quite busy during the height of tourist season.
We, thankfully, had the beach to ourselves that day. Many of the brightly colored shacks were boarded up, and the bars had only a few locals hanging around. We took a nice walk along the shore, enjoying a lovely view of the islands and the scattered fishing boats. There were lots of little crabs crawling along the beach and tons of large sea snail shells scattered about. The sun was really hot, but there was a cool breeze off the ocean that made it quite enjoyable.
Bang Po Beach
Our next stop in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park took us through some hilly farmland to a small town hidden in a valley along side Bang Po Beach. To get access to the park, we had to enter through a gate where we paid 10 baht for parking the motorbike ($0.32). Once inside, we had easy access to the lovely beach and the line of small shops and restaurants that lined the parking lot.
Right off the parking lot, in the Southeast corner, there was a National Park stand selling tickets to the Phraya Nakhon cave. There are two options for getting to the cave. You can either walk, which costs 200 baht each for foreigners, or you can take a boat around the edge of the island, which costs an additional 400 baht. We opted to walk up and around the small mountain separating Bang Po Beach and the hidden beach of Laem Sala.
Laem Sala Beach
The hike to Laem Sala Beach was a fairly easy, up and over hike along the coast. Like most hikes in Asia, the trail was a set of concrete/stone stairs. These stairs were not particularly well-kept, making it a bit treacherous in places, and climbing stairs in ninety-degree heat and humidity isn’t the most pleasant activity, but the views were very nice and, despite the constant engine revving of the cicadas, the walk was very peaceful.
The moment we touched the sand at Laem Sala Beach, however, we were attacked by mosquitoes. We practically ran from the entrance of the beach to the exit on the opposite end. This was unfortunate as the beach did look very comfortable and inviting. There were pine trees along the edges of the sand and cabins scattered around. It reminded us a lot of Ponderosa State Park back in Idaho. But, we missed most of it in our rush to not get eaten alive.
Phraya Nakhon Cave
The trail to Phraya Nakhon Cave was another stone staircase, but this one was well maintained, and had much more traffick moving in both directions. It was a challenging climb among the large, vine-covered trees. Everything looked like a snake! Thankfully, we didn’t see any actual snakes, but the massive amount of vines and roots kept us on our toes. We DID see a couple of monkeys in the distance, however, so that was fun.
After half an hour of hiking through the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, we arrived to the mouth of the cave. It was slightly cooler and smelled like bat poop. It was at that moment we noticed we have visited a lot of caves during our adventures abroad… not important… but weird.
The tourist access area of Phraya Nakhon Cave has two caverns. The first has a small window where water looks to constantly drip in. The only dark stretch was a short path between the two caverns. The second one is quite a bit larger and has a large window in the center, big enough to host trees and a temple.
It all seemed quite simple: a cave, with a hole in the roof, and a small, basic temple inside. But something about it felt magical. Maybe it was the lighting? Or the trees surrounded by the cave walls? I don’t know how to describe it, but it was mystifying. You definitely got a sense of the power of this place.
Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park One Word Summary – “Itchy”
The trek back to the bike was the same thing, just in reverse, complete with swarms of ravenous mosquitoes. We swatted at ourselves the whole way down the mountain, ran in near-terror across the beach, and practically leaped over the hill to the other side.
Why? Why were being attacked so viciously? I had put repellent lotion on my skin and spray on my clothes. And, despite the heat, I wore sneakers, thick socks, jeans, and a long-sleeved sweater to protect myself from the sun. Maybe these mosquitos just really enjoy American cuisine?
By the time we made it back to the motorbike, we were tired, sweaty, and itchy. We grabbed some much needed (and much enjoyed) Thai Tea, then headed back home. We didn’t see everything that the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park had to offer, but we saw some of the top attractions and had an amazing time.
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