Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries
The Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary (เขตรักษาพันธุ์สัตว์ป่าทุ่งใหญ่นเรศวร) and Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary (ขตรักษาพันธุ์สัตว์ป่าห้วยขาแข้ง) are adjacent parks in the Uthai Thani, Kanchanaburi and Tak provinces of Western Thailand. At 622,200 hectares combined, they form the largest protected area in Southeast Asia, and were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. They are best visited from Uthai Thani.
The reserves consist of almost every kind of forest found in Thailand, including mountain virgin forest, dry virgin forest and pine forest. It has a total area of about 5,775 square kilometres. In addition, it is the watershed of rivers flowing to Srinakharin Dam.
Flora and fauna
The unspoiled nature of the reserve makes it an ideal home to various rare and endangered animals such as wild water buffalo, Indochinese tiger, Asian elephant, tapir, leopard, banteng, etc.
There is no public transport directly to Huai Kha Kaeng from anywhere. If coming from Bangkok you can take a minivan from Mochit Van Terminal to Uthai Thani and then from the same bus station you arrive at, take the red songtaew which goes as far as Lan Sak and possibly Pang Maiphai. From Pang Maiphai you would be 25km away but maybe better to get off at Lan Sak (31km away) because it is a bigger town and it's easier to organise a taxi. Or you could ask the songtaew driver to take you the remaining distance. Remember to get a contact ID/number for the return journey or you will be forced to hitchhike back to Lan Sak. But consider that you cannot currently sleep inside the park, as well as the last songtaew back to Uthai Thani being mid-afternoon; you would be forced to spend at least one night in the area, and the nearest resort is at least 15km from the sanctuary HQ area. Staff do not allow you to camp at the entrance checkpoint to the park, either, they suggest camping at a temple back in the direction of the main road. Ultimately it is a very difficult place to visit without your own transport.
There are 2 routes to the Huai Kha Khaeng reserve: First route is to enter through the reserve headquarters that is around 102 kilometres from the province. Take the Uthai Thani-Nong Chang road (Highway No. 333) past Amphoe Nong Chang to Highway No. 3438 (Nong Chang-Lan Sak) to Km. 53-54, then turn left onto a laterite road for about 14 kilometres.
Access to the Thungyai reserve is harder, as the roads are poor. Take the route Thong Pha Phum-Sangkhla Buri near Huai Suea to Khli Ti Village, a distance of 42 km. After that, there is an intersection leading to the Wildlife Sanctuary Headquarters at Huai Song Thai another 40 km. Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng is a very environmental experience if you go and visit you will be sure to love it.
Designated points in both sanctuaries, listed below, are open to visitors. Access anywhere else in the parks or staying overnight requires permission, obtained by writing at least 15 days in advance to the Director of the Wildlife Conservation Office at the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, Bangkhen, Bangkok or Tel. 0 2561 4292-3 ext. 765.
Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary has 3 points through which visitors can tour the area:
1. The area around the reserve headquarters is in Amphoe Lan Sak, 34 kilometres from the district. The area has an exhibition building and the Sup Nakhasathian Memorial. The Khao Hin Daeng walking nature trail is about 4 kilometres long. There is also the Pong Thian viewpoint.
2. The area around the Cyber Forest Protection Unit in Amphoe Huai Khot is the site of the Huai Kha Khaeng Nature and Wildlife Study Centre to be set up by a private organization of Suep Nakhasathian Foundation under the approval of the Royal Forest Department. The centre consists of a study, a nature trail that has direction and information signs, trailside exhibitions, and viewpoints, among others.
3. The area around Huai Mae Di Forest Protection Unit in Amphoe Ban Rai has a nature study walking trail arranged by the National Park purposes.
Due to the completeness of the forest, water flows all year round. It takes 30 minutes to get to the first level of the waterfall with a smooth route covered with bamboo, rattan, ferns and various kinds of large trees. Sometimes, it is better to take a shortcut passing along the stream. Tourists can experience the different beauty of cascades where water flows from many directions and disperses to the basin or the wide ground.
To get there, take Highway 323, go straight on for 4 km. until you get to Amphoe Sangkhla Buri. Pass the intersection on the right leading to the Three Pagodas Pass then take the route Sangkhla Buri-Three Pagodas Pass until Km. 12-13 where you will see a sign, and the waterfall is on your right. Turn into the intersection on the laterite road for 9 km. to the car park. After that, go on foot for about 30 minutes to the first level of the waterfall at the Safeguard Unit.
Moreover, Namtok Khli Ti Lang (น้ำตกคลีตี้ล่าง) is located above Khwae Yai Lake near Khao Ngu Stream. It takes 2½ hours to get there by boat from Kradan Pier or Mong Krathae Pier.