Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park – Where the mountains meet the sea

One day whilst scrolling through my feed I came across a video of someone boating through a lake filled with blooming pink lotuses. In the background a row of lush and jagged mountains lined the shore, some big and small birds flew by and looked for food amongst the reeds. Learning that this place was only around 300 kilometres away from Bangkok, I quickly added it to my ‘weekends away’ list.

A long weekend rolled around quicker than anticipated and with very little research and planning, we set off to Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. When I was a kid my parents took us on many road trips around Thailand and one of my favourite things was telling mum to follow blue ‘tourist attraction’ signs that sounded interesting. We would rock up to these places and make it up as we go – getting to explore with no expectations and the spontaneity of it all was very exciting for the mini me.

image presents Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

Bueng Bua – Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

After stopping in Hua Hin for one night, we continued our journey south to the location I had saved from the video. With scenery of hills from a distant national park on one side, and Jurassic-esque limestone mountains on the other, I couldn’t stop looking out the car window. Arriving at Bueng Bua Nature Education Centre, I quickly got my national parks passport stamped (each national park in Thailand has a unique stamp that you can collect), paid the entrance fee and collected a map of the park.

image presents Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
image presents Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

We strolled along the newly renovated boardwalk stopping at each resting hut to spot schools of fish swimming in the shallows, birds resting on the hand rails, and to soak in the panoramic view that was surrounding us. I must’ve taken hundreds of photos and videos!

We came across a ranger as we circled back to our car and asked about when the lotus usually blooms – unfortunately when we visited there were only a small group of 6 to 7 flowering lotuses. The ranger told us it had been quite dry this year and it wouldn’t be until the end of December before things started to bloom. I also jokingly asked him whether someone had physically counted all the mountain peaks in the national park since the name Khao Sam Roi Yot translates to ‘mountains with 300 peaks’. He laughed and told us about a local lore where 300 survivors from a sinking Chinese merchant ship seeked refuge in the area many years ago. In Thai, 300 survived is ‘sam roi rot’ which is similar sounding to the name of the national park.

image presents Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

Map of Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park (Image source | Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park)

Continuing our exploration of the national park, we drove further south and around the mountain range through more incredible scenery – mountains to the left and ocean to the right. I wanted to stop at Khao Daeng and hike up to the viewpoint but it was around midday and I had to spare my partner from more sunburn (we forgot to apply sunscreen!). We found some shade at Sam Phraya Beach and rested there, cooling down from the constant sea breeze. The ocean was flat and the beach lined with beautiful shells but unfortunately also plastic pollution that washed up from a recent storm.

Horseshoe crab moult that I found on Sam Phraya Beach.

After our quick stop at the beach, coming up along the route were 2 caves we had never visited. We knew nothing about them and my partner made a decision based on the name of the cave sounding like a Thai word he had learnt recently. We pulled up to Sai Cave and were told to hire some torches and follow a 280m trail to the cave. Easy! I thought. Not knowing that it was a steep and rocky 280m straight up hill. Although it was a weekend, there were only the two of us and one other person on this trail.

We spotted a small group of langurs at the start of the trail!

Once we reached the opening of the cave we were met with a friendly ranger who offered to show the three of us around. Inside, the large chambers had a spectacular display of stalagmite and stalactites, some looking like a waterfall and some glistening as torches shone past. The ranger explained that during certain times of the year, sections of the cave would be filled with pools of water and at other times the sun would shine at the perfect angle to illuminate a whole chamber.

With the day getting late and most of the national park closing around 3 to 4 pm, we decided to head back to our accommodation. We made our way around along the east side of the mountains, admiring them up close for the last time. Although I knew it wasn’t going to be the last, Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park has so much more to offer and we definitely have to come back to visit them all!

Article by Oun V.