Huay To waterfall, with its five-tiered cascades and pools, is by far Khao Phanom Bencha national park’s most visited site, especially by Thais on weekends and public holiday when it may be difficult to find a place to sit. Located only 25 km due north out of Krabi Town, the waterfall is also attracting significant numbers of foreign tourists. The 200 bath park entrance fee has not deterred the hundreds of foreigners who arrive here each day of the high season, half on organized tours and half by rented motorbikes.
Huay To Waterfall has been the location for a number of Hollywood movies filmed in Krabi over the past decade, most of which were commercial failures, through no fault of the location. It is a short walk to the cataracts from the parking area near the park entrance gate, but it is a lovely walk. Huge emergent trees tower 40 meters above the lush cool green of the surrounding forest. Together with the soothing sounds of songbirds and cicadas, the trail comes as a welcome respite from having traveled through the monotony of so much oil and rubber plantation to get there. A footbridge crosses the creek just before reaching the first of five tiers of plunging water and it provides the first good vantage point to see the falls. It is possible to sunbathe on a little sandy beach at the base of crystal clear pools and watch butterflies rise on the updrafts. The sand here is the same color and texture as that surrounding the Krabi River mouth, for this is the very headwaters of that river system.
There are two other waterfalls of note in the park, both of which are truly beautiful to behold in the rainy season when they are at full force. Huay Sakae waterfall is close to the park headquarters, accessed along a little used trail. This is also the best trail for anyone seriously wanting to climb to Khao Phanom Bencha’s 1,350 meter summit – an endeavor that is not for the casual hiker or faint-hearted. Only about 20 people per year traverse the park by climbing to the summit and descending down the other side. A national park guide (at the nominal fee of 500 baht per day) is required to accompany parties (which can not exceed seven people) for this two to three day trek. For a true nature lover it is well worth the effort, however, as one observes the transition from dry evergreen forest to cloud forest, and sees ground orchids unique in the world, ample wildlife signs and vistas of Krabi province which cannot be surpassed. The other bonus of traversing the park is to descend the mountain past the third significant waterfall, Yod Maphrao. There is, of course, a much easier way to reach this falls from the village of Baan Ton Haa, but finding one’s way to the back side of the mountain by unmarked dirt roads, and finding the trail to the falls, will likely require a Thai guide.