One of the best parts of teaching in Thailand is the ability to travel. Each month I have been able to travel 2-4 weekends. This is because of the salary that allows for it if you budget properly, a very flexible school calendar and boss, and the many many holidays in Thailand that create 3 (and 4, and 5) day weekends.
I have been able to experience incredible national parks, serene beaches, ancient ruins, traditional festivals, and so much more during my time teaching in Thailand.
One of the most memorable weekend trips was Khao Sam Roi Yot. One of my goals for my time in Thailand was to grow in my confidence and ability to travel solo. This trip was my first one alone which made it even more special.
Khao Sam Roi Yot is a national park in Prachuap Khiri Kan Province. It is right along the gulf on the Eastern coast side of the country. You might recognize it or know of it from the famous picture of a temple inside a cave. To get there I took an overnight bus (6 hours) from my province, Khon Kaen, to Bangkok’s Mochit Bus Terminal. I then walked across the street to Mochit Van Terminal and got on a van (4 hours) from there.
I’m a very heavy sleeper so I had no idea when we arrived. I was the last one in the van and the poor van driver had trouble waking me up to let me know it was time to get out. I then hopped in an overpriced taxi to my hotel. I quickly found the set fare to be worth it as the views were stunning. It’s as if you’re on a nature tour.
I stayed at Blue Beach Resort which I highly recommend to all who go. Even though I got there incredibly early (9 am) they let me check in and enjoy the free breakfast. They rented me a motorbike for the day, gave me a park map and some recommendations, and also offered to take me out on their boat through lotus flowers at sunset for free!!!
Khao Sam Roi Yot is made up of 9 attractions, known most famously for the temple inside a cave called Phraya Nakhon Cave. Seeing this temple is most often done via day trip from Bangkok and does not include the other attractions of the park or staying in the town of Khao Sam Roi Yot. This is a shame because, while Phraya Nakhon Cave is amazing, each attraction of the park is well worth the visit and not able to be all seen in just one day.
Khao Sam Roi Yot must be seen via motorbike as it covers 90 km. However, the roads are empty except for cows and monkeys. It is an ideal place to motor bike as it is very safe and you are able to stop to take pictures. The views while driving are insane with mountains, marshland, and coastline. You will start your day at the visitor center where for 200 baht you get a one-day ticket to all of the attractions. From there you will make your way to each of the attractions.
My favorite of the attractions was Khao Daeng, a mountain, with one of the best viewpoints I have ever seen. I loved this hike so much I did it both days I was in Khao Sam Roi Yot. Both times I found myself to be almost completely alone, there are park rangers around so it is not dangerous, which was very special to be able to take in the views at the top by myself. It is truly in the running for one of the most beautiful places I have been in my life.
Continuing on to each of the attractions via motorbikes I saw beaches, a boardwalk over a swamp, local farmers, many unique birds and animals, caves, and some secret local temples. A highlight was definitely exploring a secret local temple nestled against a mountain. I watched some monkeys playing in a puddle. Suddenly, a dog ran out into the puddle and the chief monkey began to fight him. In the most Thailand moment that has ever happened, a monk then proceeds to run out and break up the monkey vs dog showdown.
The only place there were many other tourists was Phraya Nakhon Cave which was packed! There was also a field trip of child Monks to visit the cave which was very cool to see. It is definitely a breathtaking view, and also a sneaky strenuous hike!
The town of Khao Sam Roi Yot is pretty quiet. It is just one road across from the beach. I watched the sunset over the beach and then the green lights of the shrimp boats that go out at night. One night I had incredible Indian food and the other I sampled a few things at the local night market. I was EXHAUSTED from all the hiking and exploring, and was thankful for an early night and a shower.
I experienced such kindness from the owners of my hotel and each restaurant and cafe I went to. I was given fresh homemade bread for free and thanked so many times for visiting. Khao Sam Roi Yot is truly everything I love about Thailand it’s natural beauty and the beautiful kindness of the people.
I highly recommend visiting Khao Sam Roi Yot. It is a memory I will cherish forever. This can be confirmed by the many many people I repeatedly force to look at all my pictures from that weekend.
Thailand you’re incredible.