Animal is a docuseries by Netflix that introduces its viewers to the often surprising lives of various species of wild animals. Entitled “Apes”, the first episode of Season 2 follows an orangutan family living in Khao Yai National Park.
Khao Yai National Park is where travelers come to hike through the forests and learn about nature throughout the year. The most popular trail route in the park is “Pha Kluai Mai-Haew Suwat Waterfall,” which is 3 kilometers long and takes only two hours to complete.
Pha Kluai Mai-Haew Suwat Waterfall is a trail route that links two waterfalls. It is a relatively easy and well-marked route that does not require hikers to be accompanied by one of the national park officers. The trail starts at Pha Kluai Mai campground, and then runs alongside Lam Ta Khong stream, alternating between bamboo trees and dry forest, before ending at Haew Suwat Waterfall.
This trail is open the whole year round. During the dry season (November-April), travelers can see traces of lava flow from a volcano that erupted hundreds of millions of years ago. Also, hikers might see Polypleurum ubonense, a newly reported species, sprouting between the rocks when the water level is low, along with Renanthera orchids (Wai Daeng), which give the waterfall its name (Pha Kluai Mai means orchid cliff) from the dark red flowers blooming around the waterfall between March and April.
Those trekking during the rainy season can expect to hear the thundering roar of Pha Kluai Mai waterfall as the water crashes 10 meters into a pool where hikers can swim and cool off. At the end of the nature trail at Haew Suwat waterfall, hikers come to a giant waterfall about 25 meters tall. It was formed from volcanic rocks, which have the special attribute of “volcanic gravel”. During the rainy season, the water current is so strong that it is unsuitable for swimming. Behind the waterfall is a cave. When the water levels are low in the dry season, the cave can be seen, and visitors can experience the curtain of water from inside the cave.
From Bangkok, take Phaholyothin Road, passing Rangsit and Saraburi before turning right into Mittraphap. After passing Muak Lek, turn right again at Pak Chong intersection (KM.58) onto highway No.2090 (Thanarat Road) and drive for another 20 kilometers to the entrance of the national park.
By train, you can take the northeastern train (Bangkok-Pak Chong), which takes about 3 and a half to 4 hours to reach Pak Chong station. Then take the minibus Pak Chong market for about 30 kilometers and then get off at Chao Phor Shrine’s visitor center (the entrance where the national park fee is collected). Visitors can rent a motorcycle to tour the national park or rent a car from Pak Chong market.
By bus, you can take the Bangkok-Nakorn Ratchasima bus or the Bangkok-Pak Chong private van. Get off at Pak Chong and then take the Pak Chong-Khao Yai regular bus (open daily between 6.00 am-5.00 pm) and get off at Chao Phor Shrine’s visitor center where you can rent a motorcycle to tour the national park.