The 98-sq-km 'Three Hundred Peaks' national park includes some of the finest examples of shoreline habitat remaining in Thailand. Located on the western seaboard of the Gulf of Thailand at the thinnest part of the southern isthmus, the park includes fine beaches, caves and wetland habitats. Limestone hills, rising as high as 605 meters, present fine views of the coast of Prachuab.
Khao Sam Roi Yot is one of the country's best bird watching sites. It is particularly notable for migratory shore birds and waterfowl. Of 275 recorded bird species, 60 are mainly confined within the park. Sightings include rare species such as the purple heron (one of only two breeding sites in Thailand), white-bellied sea eagle, and spotted and imperial eagles. Mammals include the goat-antelope or serow, still widespread in the park, slow loris, Malayan porcupine, crab-eating macaque, mongoose, leopard cat and leopard. Irrawaddy dolphins can sometimes be seen offshore.
Visitors can see the main attractions along the hiking trails that criss-cross the park. The Khao Krachom trail leads to the top of the tallest hill, near the center of the park. Steep trails lead to the fine beaches of Sam Phraya and Laem Sala or alternatively boats can be hired from Ban Bang Pu. A popular trip is the two-hour boat cruise along the Khao Daeng Canal, from near the park headquarters. Passing through mangroves and wetland habitats, the trip is most popular at sunset.
The park has three outstanding caves. Phraya Nakhon Cave can be reached on foot from Ban Bang Pu or by boat. The trail is steep and rocky. Tham Phraya Nakhon has two sinkholes and a pavilion built for a visit by King Rama V in 1896. The cave was named for Phraya Nakhon, ruler of the city-state of Nakhon Si Thammarat, who inadvertently discovered it over 200 years ago when a gale forced his ship ashore.
Deep tunnels and interlinked chambers characterize Kaeo Cave. You can rent a lamp to see the calcite-encrusted walls, which glisten like jewels, giving it the name 'Crystal Cave'. Sai Cave is located off the road between Sam Phraya Beach and Pranburi. A 20-minute climb gets you to the single large cavern where villagers rent out lamps to see the calcified 'waterfalls'.
Khao Sam Roi Yot is located about 320 km south of Bangkok or 37 km south of Pranburi. Songthaews run from Pranburi to Ban Bang Pu from where you have to walk to the park headquarters. Better is to charter a vehicle for around 300 baht for the whole trip. Forestry Department bungalows for eight to 20 people are available at the park headquarters or at Sam Phraya Beach. Tents can also be hired. Restaurants are available at both the park headquarters and at Sam Phraya Beach. For advanced reservations, call the Forestry Department in Bangkok on +66 2 561-4292.
The best time to visit the park is between September and March when the migratory birds are present in great numbers. Bring along binoculars or hire a pair from the park headquarters. Bring along mosquito repellant too. King Mongkut died from malaria two months after contracting the disease at Khao Sam Roi Yot. There isn't much risk of malaria these days, but the mosquitoes can still be irritating.
Article Source: http://www.discoverythailand.com