Trip to Sam Roi Yot (From Hua Hin area. Duration about 8 hours):
Located in the coastal area of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, it is the first marine national park of Thailand. Khao Sam Roi Yot means “The mountain with three hundred peaks” and refers to a series of limestone hills along the Gulf of Thailand, the highest at 605 metres above sea level.
The northwest corner of the mountain range is called Thung Sam Roi Yot and is mainly freshwater marsh covering nearly 37% of the national park which makes it the largest wetlands area in Thailand.
The park is also an attractive destination for its rich wildlife in mangrove forests, beautiful beaches, limestone islands, trails and viewpoints.
Khao Sam Roi Yot is home to a great diversity of bird species making it a great destination for birders with an estimated 300 species, half of them migratory. It is one of the best places in Thailand to see water-birds on their migratory flight path between Asia and Australia around January/February.
One of the main attractions of the national park is Phraya Nakhon Cave with its iconic royal pavilion and huge chambers. This cave consists of two sinkholes. There is a four-gable roofed royal pavillion called Phra Thinang Khuha Kharuhat, that was built in 1890 for King Rama V’s visit.
The pavillion became the symbol of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province. During certain hours of the day, when the sunlight shines from the right angle, the sinkhole opening illuminates a nice tone of light over the pavillion, creating a spectacular view. It is accessible from the Laem Sala beach by a 430 metre long steep trail with an elevation of 130 metres. The walk and climb are an effort, so make sure you wear good shoes and take plenty of water. Half the climb/walk may be avoided by taking one of the taxi boats around the headland, but bear in mind, this still leaves the hike up and down into the cave itself. It is definitely worth the visit.
Located on the Northwest corner of the national park, it is the largest freshwater marsh in Thailand. It is home to many species of water-birds, songbirds, amphibians and various wetland species. The marsh is registered as Ramsar site by the Ramsar Convention, and held under international treaty for recognition of its important wetlands. The view of the mountains that may be seen, and in many photos, are perhaps best in the national park are taken from Thung Sam Roi Yot.
There is a 1 kilometre long wooden boardwalk over part of the marsh area next to the visitor center, with great views over the surroundings. Many bird species may be seen here, especially the Purple Swamphen known across Europe as the Purple Gallinule.
Khao Daeng Viewpoint is 157 metres high on an isolated limestone hill with 360° clear visibility over the surrounding valleys. Long-tailed macaques and birds are very common in the area.
Boat tours through the mangrove forests operate from Ban Khao Daeng village. One of the best times for the tour is around sunset, it takes about an hour and offers beautiful views across the valley and through limestone hills rising around. It is ideal for a close view of the natural forest, nature and of course for bird watchers.
Toyota Camry (sedan, 4 passengers max) — 3,000 THB;
Toyota Innova (compact MPV, 6 passengers max) — 3,500 THB;
Toyota Fortuner (SUV, 6 passengers max) — 3,500 THB;
Toyota Commuter (minibus, 10 passengers max) — 4,000 THB.