Following a few days of sitting around the pool at our hotel in Khao Lak we were itching for adventure and after a quick chat with a few of the locals, we decided to take a trip out to Ton Chong Fa Waterfall. Just a few kilometers outside the town of Bang Niang, the falls themselves are protected by national park status. Although this means there is an entrance fee (200bht per person) it also means that the area in which they are set is kept clean, tidy and most importantly; accessible.
You could be forgiven for missing the falls, the inconspicuous turn off Thanon Phet Kasem (the main road through Bang Niang) looks as though it just heads out to a more residential part of town.
On the advice of locals (and the internet of course), we hired a taxi to take us to the entrance of the National Park and headed out just after breakfast to not only avoid any crowds, but also the midday sun too. The waterfall itself is set over five levels, however the majority of the 1.3km walk is uphill and not something you want to be doing when the mercury hits the dizzying highs of 35c.
I love getting off the beaten track, being able to appreciate the pure beauty that this planet has to offer and switch off … getting out and about in Thailand was great for the soul, not least because Paul & I decided not to purchase any data packages on our arrival in Phuket. Meaning that when we were away from the comforts of our hotel, we were well and truly off the grid.
A real digital detox, with mother nature to help cleanse our ‘cluttered’ brains.
About 550 meters from the entrance to the park, you cross a small stream to the the ‘fish spa’ a small pool filled with garra rufa fish aka doctor fish. These little beauties are the little fish that a few years ago you could find offering pedicures on pretty much every British high street and who naturally nibble away at dead or dying skin.
Although I can imagine that a stop off at the fish spa is the perfect way to finish your Chong Fa experience, I’m quite glad that we started our visit there because by the time we we ready to leave, a tropical storm had rolled in!
Climbing up through the rain-forest to the main fall at the top we were lucky enough to be able to explore the fresh water pools on our own and spend time taking in our surroundings.
After climbing the remaining 800m to the top Ton Chong Fa fall, we took a little time out to enjoy the natural massage of the cascading water and chill out out whilst drying off before starting our decent. One thing I was so pleased that I taken note of before heading to the area was the advice to take some trainers with me – although you could easily make the fish spa and first fall in flip flops, it would be irresponsible to attempt the rest of the climb without good footwear!
As we approached the Fish Spa for the second time, a tropical storm rolled in and after I got over the fascination of it raining in the rain-forest (despite being from one of the wettest counties in the UK this amazed me) we decided to walk back into Bang Niang for lunch. Even though the walk back was just 7km in total, it felt much longer as we gazed in awe at the vast rubber plantations that lined the road towards Chong Fa and we were lucky that as that rain stopped and the sun came out a passing taxi driver stopped for us.
We rounded off our adventure with a late lunch at a bar in Bang Niang called Cloud9, nestled behind the market area, it was the perfect quiet spot to end our afternoon with some authentic Thai food and re-hydrate after our morning in the rain-forest.