Covering 18,730 square km the geography of the Western Forest Complex ranges from lowlands to high mountains. From rugged Yen and Tao Dam mountains in the north, through other limestone mountains, valleys, lowlands and water reservoirs in the middle, down to slopes of the Tenaserrim mountain range, that extends further over the border to Myanmar. The area is packed with rivers, creeks, caves, cliffs, waterfalls and viewpoints. It is also an important watershed area for 6 of the 25 major river basins in Thailand.
Very hot summers, very humid rainy season and quite cold winters. This is a bit of generalization for such a extended area, but not too far being accurate. Of course it involves many exceptions. For example the hills protecting the Erawan National Park from the eastern monsoon result in a lower average rainfall while the Kaeng Krachan National Park has heavy rains resulting in its closure during the rainy season.
Western Forest Complex – protected areas
National park – a protected area that welcomes tourists and has facilities to accommodate their enjoyable stay.
Wildlife sanctuary – much more strictly protected area that is open only to educational or scientific research or for volunteering. Special permit is necessary to enter a wildlife sanctuary.
1. Salakpra Wildlife Sanctuary
Being a territory with 150 elephants close to inhabited areas north-west of Kanchanaburi, Salakpra is known throughout Thailand for constant human-elephants crops conflicts.
2. Huai Kha Kaeng Wildlife Sanctuary World Heritage Site
Combined with the adjoining Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, Huai Kha Kaeng forms the largest protected area in mainland South-East Asia. Accessible from Ban Rai (Uthai Thani province) by car only.
3.-4. Thung Yai Naresuan (West and East) Wildlife Sanctuary World Heritage Site
The 2km natural trail at the headquarters of the east part of this World Heritage site will give you an impression of the vegetation of the sanctuary. Accessible from Um Phang in Tak province (East) or Kanchanaburi (West) by car only.
5. Khao Sanampriang Wildlife Sanctuary
A small sanctuary in the Kamphaeng Phet province.
6. Um Phang Wildlife Sanctuary
Home to Thilawsu, Thailand’s largest waterfall, and packed with natural beauty and hill tribes cultural heritage, Um Phang Wildlife Sanctuary and its surroundings are one of the top ecotourism destinations in Thailand. Accessible by 4WD car in dry season and by trekking in rainy season.
7. Erawan National Park
Erawan is best known for its 7-tiered waterfall. It is easily accessible from Kanchanaburi by public transport also.
8. Chaloem Rattanakosin National Park
Caves and waterfalls are the main attraction of this small park. Accessible by car from Kanchanaburi.
9. Sai Yok National Park
One of the closest jungles to Kanchanaburi, Sai Yok hosts also the world’s smallest mammal – the Khun Kitty bat – and reminders of the infamous Death Railway built between Thailand and Burma during the WW II. Accessible from Kanchanaburi also by combination of bus and a short ride on a motorbike-taxi.
10. Si Nakharin National Park
Encircling the Si Nakharin dam, Si Nakharin National Park enables the visitors to experience not only its waterfalls, hot springs, limestone caves and cliffs, but also life along one of the biggest water reservoirs in Thailand. Accessible by car from Kanchanaburi.
11. Khlong Lan National Park
Waterfalls are main attraction of Khlong Lan, which is the last forest complex in the Kamphaeng Phet province. Accessible by car only.
12. Mae Wong National Park
If trekking, viewpoints and waterfalls are your favourite activities, the Mae Wong National Park was made for you. Accessible by car only.
13. Phu Toei National Park
Truly off the beaten track and almost forgotten even in its own Suphanburi province, Phu Toei is nevertheless full of beautiful scenery and indigenous villages. Accessible by car only.
14. Khlong Wang Chao National Park
Numerous waterfall, hot springs and caves are the main drawing points of this national park on the northern-most tip of the Western Forest Complex. Accessible by car only.
15. Khao Laem National Park
The Khao Laem National Park covers the fertile forest surrounding the Khao Laem reservoir. In Khao Laem natural sights – waterfalls, viewpoints, caves – come hand in hand with cultural sights – Mon bridge, the longest wooden bridge in Thailand and Bo Ong, an ancient Burmese chedi. It is accessible from Kanchanaburi by public transport also.
16. Thong Pha Pum National Park
Rich in natural sights Thong Pha Phum directly borders the relatively intact forests in Myanmar through which it is connected to the Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi province. Both of the parks are very important for conservation of biodiversity of the region. Accessible by car as well as by public transport.
17. Lam Khlong Ngu National Park
Named after a creek that snakes through the jungle, eroding limestone cliffs along the way and turning them into large caves and grottoes with attractive stalagmites and stalactites. Accessible by car only.
18. Mae Nam Phachi Wildlife Sanctuary
Conected to Kaeng Krachan National park to the south and relatively intact forests in Myanmar to the west this wildlife sanctuary helps enhance the biodiversity of the area.
19. Kaeng Krachan National Park ASEAN Heritage Park
The largest national park in Thailand, Kaeng Krachan hosts tigers, elephants and hornbills among other wildlife. Magnificent scenery, waterfalls and jungle trekking routes are more reasons for a visit. Accessible by car only (Information from the WFC website).