Located 97 kilometers north of Kanchanaburi, the 5 kilometer in-and-out hike in Chaloem Rattanakosin National Park (also known as Tham Than Lot National Park) is one of our favorite hikes in Thailand. The trail is not too long or too difficult – it is a perfect relaxing and energizing nature hike.
The very diverse hike starts through a small cave (Tham Than Lot Noi), continues through beautiful and lush jungle, takes you past scenic waterfalls, and ends at a spectacular big cave (Tham Than Lot Yai).
As you can guess, in Thai noi means little and yai means large. Tham Than Lot Noi is the little cave and Tham Than Lot Yai is the large cave.
The trail is very easy to follow, it is maintained, and it is sign posted.
The trail begins at the entrance of Tham Than Lot Noi, just beyond the ranger checkpoint.
There are lights inside the 300 meter long cave that are turned on from 8:30 AM to 4 PM. We carry headlamps and spare batteries just in case we are delayed past 4 PM on our return.
There is one spot just after entering the cave that requires ducking in order to pass. After the tight squeeze, the cave opens up and it is very easy to walk through.
A small stream runs though the cave and there are beautiful stalagmites and stalactites.
All too soon, the opening at the opposite end of the cave appears.
Just outside the cave, the jungle is stunning.
The trail is very clearly defined and marked as it continues to follow the stream through the dense jungle.
This section of the hike is very easy, peaceful, and relaxing.
The hike becomes more difficult and exciting at the start of the wooden stairs leading to Trai Trueng Waterfall.
It is important to pay attention on this section because some of the stairs and handrails are broken or loose.
Trai Trueng Waterfall is a very pretty location to relax, eat a snack, and drink some water before continuing the hike to Tham Than Lot Yai.
The trail continues upwards until it reaches Tham Than Lot Yai. The stairs after Trai Trueng Waterfall look newer and are in better condition than the stairs before the waterfall.
The first time that we hiked to Tham Than Lot Yai, I expected to be disappointed since it is really “just” an arch. I did not think that it could compare to Tham Than Lot Noi, which, after all, is a “real” cave. I was wrong! It is a fascinating and enchanting place. You feel as though it would be perfectly natural to see a Pterodactyl fly overhead!
Tham Than Lot Yai also features stalactites and stalagmites. It is a unique experience to see these formations outdoors, rather than inside a dark cave.
In addition to a small Buddhist shrine and Buddha footprints located at the cave, there are ancient serpent paintings by the Karen.
It is a wonderful place to relax, meditate, and to simply enjoy the surrounding beauty. Just keep in mind that the lights in Tham Than Lot Noi will be switched off at 4 PM!
Continue on the trail 400 meters past Tham Than Lot Yai, to reach the forest temple at the end of the trail. There is really nothing to see here, so we generally start our return journey from Tham Than Lot Yai after our rest.
We love hiking in Chaloem Rattanakosin National Park. It is a perfect day trip from Kanchanaburi. It is unfortunate that the park is just a little too far from Bangkok to be considered as a Bangkok day trip, or we would visit much more often!
Our hotel of choice for visiting Kanchanaburi is Kanvela Resort. The beautiful location next to the River Kwai and the owner’s wonderful hospitality always make our stays pleasant and relaxing. The owner speaks and writes English. To book, you can contact her through Facebook: //www.facebook.com/kanvelaresort/.
Admission Fees and Information:
While we visit the park year-round, the best weather for hiking and visiting the caves is from February to April. The park entry fee is 200 THB foreigner / 40 THB Thai for adults, 100 THB foreigner / 20 THB Thai for children.
From Kanchanaburi: Take Highway 3199 north. Turn right on Highway 3086. Turn left on Highway 3480 and drive until you reach the entrance to Chaloem Rattanakosin National Park. After passing through the park ticket gate, we drive to the large parking lot just before the next gate and walk to the trailhead (directly left of the park GPS coordinates below).
Kanvela Resort Kanchanaburi @ 14.055714,99.448348
Chaloem Rattanakosin National Park @ 14.658294,99.304968
You can copy and paste the latitude and longitude into Google Earth, your browser, or into your GPS.
*Disclaimer- ALWAYS verify locations, transportation routes, GPS coordinates, etc. Errors are made, routes changed, sometimes we are just plain wrong. No one knows what you like more than you. If the trip is worth doing, it is worth doing right! Do your homework.