Awright, so I’ve broken my trip to Kanchanaburi into two installments, one focused on its nature and the famous Erawan Falls, and a second focused on its historical sites.
First, Erawan Falls. The Falls are located in the Erawan National Park and are named for a two-headed elephant from Hindu mythology. Apparently, some rock-formations in the park resemble the creature. I dunno. The important thing, though, is that the Erawan Falls are very popular and truly impressive.
I visited them as part of a greater tour. It was me and two Danish families (travelling separately but apparently doing all the same stuff) in a comfortable van, hitting up some of the top historical sites along with the falls. The van tour included the key sights I wanted to see, a lunch and pickup at my guesthouse, all at a reasonable price. So it was perfect. Otherwise, it’s possible to take a bus directly to the falls from the Kanchanaburi bus station. The ride would be about an hour and a half.
Erawan Falls is a tiered waterfall, meaning that it isn’t a single sheet of water plummeting over a single cliff. Rather, the stream drops over seven levels. You can’t see the entire falls from a single point, instead, you have to hike from one tier to the next. Each of the tiers is a little different, with its own pool and varying swimming opportunities.
I loved hiking from one tier to the next, knowing that I could stop for a swim anytime I got a tad overheated or grossed out by my own stickiness (I literally changed shirts halfway through my hike).
A few of the pools included small fish. These fish nibble at your feet, eating the dead and dry skin clinging to your toes and heels. It was a bit disconcerting at first, but many people spent a fair amount of time simply soaking their feet by the falls, enjoying the natural pedicure.
As mentioned, there are seven tiers, though I only had two and a half hours, so I only saw the bottom five tiers. The first four tiers were fairly easy to reach, but hitting tiers five through seven involved a slightly more challenging hike.
You’ll notice from my photos of the area that nearly every one includes a person. This was both by choice and by necessity. I’d initially planned to get some nature pics, focusing on the falls themselves. Thing is, the Erawan Falls are very popular, both with foreign and Thai tourists. Given that they’re just a two hour drive out of Bangkok, many residents of the capital make a beeline for the Falls the moment the Friday workday comes to an end.
Given the crowds, I realized that trying to shoot around people would be too frustrating, so I decided to focus on the people, on how they enjoyed Erawan Falls and the nature surrounding them. I thought it actually turned out quite well, and it’s a lesson I’d remember for the next time I end up in a more crowded area.
Since I was traveling alone, I chatted some with our guide, a university student named Fone (pronounced just like that thing Bell invited) who was doing his co-op with the tour company. He told me that the outfit offered two day, one night treks into the jungle; I thought that would be an amazing experience and connected with him on Facebook so I could get more info.
Oh, also, there were monkeys.
Anyway, the Erawan Falls were lovely, if a bit crowded, and definitely worth the visit, though, despite not having seen the sixth and seventh tiers, I think I’d rather check out other parts of the region as opposed to returning to the Falls.