Don’t Judge a National Park by its Name

Yes I did. I found out several Thailand’s national parks have name to begin with namtok (waterfall), including Namtok Ngao National Park. I questioned myself, why government made a (merely) namtok as a national park? Should it be an area with more ecological resources, values, and more waterfalls? As I am not a biology expert, I end my curiosity to that point.
One day after long journeys from Ranong Town on the way returned to Phuket with my team work, we found a huge spectacular waterfall visible from the main road. We have passed the signage and decided to return to see its name….and this was Ngao National Park. Without namtok. We followed what we call “traveler’s instinct”, If you know what I mean.

Road to the Waterfall

I felt like entering a botanical garden as I just came back from survey visits at more famous national parks, Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park and Kui Buri National Park within previous days. A small winding road lined with dense trees, leaded to the entrance of the park where you should pay 100 baht for foreigner and 40 Baht for local. As I have physical appearance like Thai and speak their basic language, I am always considered as a local all over the place in Thailand. Just kidding, I have a legal permit with identity card as a foreigner who lives in this country, that in many cases will receive the same condition as locals. If you have farang look but you have identification card of Thailand’s work permit, you will get Thai fare.

Though Ngao National Park doesn’t have international recognition as a protected area, I should admit this park is worth a visit–day or overnight trip. This could be an option rather than spend a day trip only for visa-run when you are in Ranong Town (or on the way to Khao Lak, Phangga, or Phuket).
The park is a great place for independent travelers, group of friends, or family. So many ways to explain kids how important this national park, feeds as water resources for the area around Ranong and Chumphon. Ngao is also name of main waterfall in the park. This is the one that visible from main road–route number 4. The park has another 12 waterfalls and some small falls.

Ngao Waterfall

A beautiful footpath took us down to the base of Ngao Falls, dramatic sight been caught down here as I looked above where water was falling. We looked for Panda Crab, a rare freshwater crab species, around the falls. But we didn’t see any. An informative good English speaking park’s staff at visitor center informed about this. We could feel he had energy and happiness to explain everything to us. He also informed that Ueang Komasum—a Cataliya orchid-like with white petal–were blooming in between 500 meters along the nature trail. The flowers blooming season is October to December. Locals spend more time soaking themselves inside hot water pools, or have lunch at picnic points at the park.

Walkpath to waterfall

We amazed, pleased with our day trip, and decided to return in near future for spending several days at the park. It will be for serious hiking than we did at 500 meters nature trail, and spend the nights at this tree house (look the picture below).

The Tree house !

The national park area is 668 sq kilometers large. This is large! Main entrance of the park can be reached via route number 4, around 12 – 13 kilometers from Ranong Town. From this point you will find visitor center with simple display about biodiversity of the park, most of them in Thai language. The brochure in English is also available at visitor center. Other entrance is on the route number 41. This road will take you to Khlong Phrao waterfall. The entrance to the falls is between Lang Suan and Thung Tako. If you come from Phangga, take route number 4006 that leads you to road number 41.
You can see information about accommodation including tree house here. For reservation click here
This is the national parks accommodation reservation center in Bangkok. Take print out of your email conversation as a proof because the messages sometimes won’t arrive at national park. Based on my experience at some “big” national parks (eg. Khao Yai National Park), the reservation via this link quite worked out. For some others may not. The park has a canteen nearby Ngao waterfall but prepare your own picnic would be best to do.

On the way to nature trail
Picnic corner
Will you return?