Thailand's national parks are a treasure little-known to tourists, and the effort to go pays a rich reward.
Tad Ton Waterfall (Tad Ton National Park) in Chaiyaphum is one of the best and most treasured places to be during summer or any hot day in Thailand. The calm running waters there will make you feel as good as at the beach. The area's natural beauty enhances the experience because you can walk in the woods and escape the crowds.
If you plan a trip to one of the national parks in Thailand, put Tad Ton National Park on your list and its beautiful waterfalls.
Tad Ton Waterfall is one of the best Chaiyaphum attractions. The falls themselves are over 6 meters high and about 50 meters wide. The park is easy to find on the main road to Khon Kaen, about a 6-hour drive from Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok). Seeing the falls is the main thing to do, but the national park also has many activities like camping, hiking, and swimming.
This national park is more modern than others and better funded, so the facilities here are well-developed and adequately maintained. This is a favorite picnic spot for the locals, but there are also sit-down restaurants and a cafeteria. The gift shop has float rings for the kids and fun souvenirs, with a convenience store around 20 meters away. The park is vast, so getting away from the crowds around the falls and relaxing downstream is easy.
The Lam Pa Thad River over the falls is excellent and feels great on any sunny day in Thailand. It pools into large swimming holes before it rushes on, so there is no danger. Kids splash around, and adults paddle, wade between the rocks, and find a spot to sit down and watch. The water is very calm in these pools, and no spot is more profound than about 1 meter (3 feet). There probably are fish in there, but all the human activities keep them away, and fishing isn’t allowed.
The geology at Tad Ton Waterfall is impressive. The visible stone is all limestone polished by millions of years of water flow. Limestone has the property of how it breaks called “cubic cleavage,” so the cuts are sometimes exact geometric shapes. One spectacular example is a giant pyramid formation sticking up from the water at the bottom of the falls. Other rocks have been cleaved into large irregular chunks and have channels of water flowing through them over the falls. The waterfall is the star, but the rocks get the Oscars for a best-supporting role.
Flights are available from Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok to Khon Kaen; you can rent a car and drive there. But the best way is to drive or take the twice-daily bus to Chaiyaphum. The drive from Chaiyaphum is easy and fast, and your hotel can arrange the transport there and back. Driving is better because you can see more Thailand and stop for Isaan food. The best part of either option is it's cheap, especially the bus/rental option. Isaan is famously inexpensive to tour around. Driving also allows you to stay longer. Once you arrive, you will want to see more of this part of the country and visit more parks, guaranteed!
There is camping at Tad Ton Waterfall (Tad Ton National Park) in Chaiyaphum, and they have them for rent like other parks. But after a long drive, sleeping on the ground in a tent might not be the best idea. The good news is that Tad Ton also has proper hotel-style accommodations. Several small cottages with bedrooms and mini-apartments on-site offer a nice rest and private bathrooms. They don’t pretend to be 5-star rooms, and they don’t have to. The rooms are modern, relatively new, and very clean. These things are all you need for a good night’s rest to recover and go on to the next park.
Two or three hours is enough at Tad Ton Waterfall to take in the sights and cool off for the day. If you don’t want to spend the night there, don’t feel bad; the next park is only 30 minutes away. The camping is much better at the other National Parks of Chaiyaphum, but those don’t have the proper bedrooms and little villas that Tad Ton Waterfall (Tad Ton National Park) has. But that’s completely OK; the village food is arguably better, and there is much more of Thailand to see. So, consider this Chaiyaphum attraction the gateway to a beautiful tour of Isaan. It is a great rest stop for Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, Roi Et, the eastern provinces, and beyond.
Tad Ton Waterfall, one of the park's highlights, boasts a height of over 6 meters and a width of around 50 meters. In addition to Tad Ton, the park is home to other stunning waterfalls like Tat Fa, Pha Lang, and Pha Song Chan. Visitors must trek 1.2 kilometers from the parking lot to reach Tad Ton Waterfall.
When you arrive at Tad Ton Waterfall (Tad Ton National Park) in Chaiyaphum, spend some time at the visitors' center to get well-oriented to the area. This facility looks brand new, and the extensive displays exemplify the park is well-funded. They have many trail maps on the walls and a 3D topographic map on a table in the lobby. You may also get lucky as some desk staff may speak English well.
They can explain the park layout and may offer some good tips about walking on the rocks across the river. They can also show and share with you about wading paths on the map. This will surely save you a lot of time trying to find them. There is also a cool taxidermy of a Leopard Cat that is unique to the area. But it only comes out at night, and you won’t see them too much, so this display is perfect. Also, information on all the other animals and unique plants in the park is everywhere on posters around the room.
Serene forests on both sides cover Tad Ton Waterfall in the Chaiyaphum district. Visitors can swim in the waterfall and take pictures. Visitors can also rent cottages and at the camping site to spend a night.
Tad Ton Waterfall is an easy getaway only 25 kilometers from Chaiyaphum and six hours from Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok). And to be clear, this is in Isaan, the part of Thailand that only a few foreigners see, but all remember forever after they have been there.
For nature lovers, hiking in Chaiyaphum is a must-do activity, offering a relaxing and rewarding experience. But even if hiking isn't your thing, you should be prepared for some walking when visiting Tad Ton Waterfall. The parking lot is a bit distance away, and it takes about 1.2 km to reach the falls. Once you arrive, take some time to sit and enjoy the beautiful scenery. However, you'll likely want to explore more and discover the surrounding area, which involves more walking.
We advise you to wear shoes that can absorb walking on rocks and pavement, but don’t use your expensive Nikes because they might get wet! You must cross the river to get to the best trails and see the fantastic rocks below the falls. This means wading over the rocks through the shallow part of the water. And if you are camping in Tad Ton Waterfall (Tad Ton National Park) in Chaiyaphum, you will also need to walk a lot. None of the stores or food places are close to the campsites. If walking is not your thing, or you have trouble walking, stay closer to the cottages.
Chaiyaphum is considered a big city in Isaan, with around 60,000. There are not many larger cities within about 100 miles; only Khon Kaen and Udon Thani are bigger.
But Chaiyaphum has everything any large city has. There are first-class hotels and restaurants, primary car dealers, shopping centers, big-box home stores, and countless smaller shops with anything imaginable. It is also the central government center for the entire province.
State, local, and national government offices are all in Chaiyaphum. The central state hospital center is there, and there are several excellent private hospitals and clinics. Chaiyaphum also has some great colleges and universities, most notably The Buddhist College of Thailand, just outside the city.
Some recommendations are to see a new movie at the only cinema in the region. This is at Robinson’s shopping center, a great store and food court destination alone. Eat at “The End” near Tesco, a Farang food place owned by an Englishman specializing in classic pub food. He has a partner who is also a chef and makes French cuisine on weekends.
Visit the Chaiyaphum night market for classic Isaan street food, Thai silk, and cheap shoes. Everything around is cheap, which is an excellent attraction to Chaiyaphum. Things you might buy in Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) are available at about 1/3 less, and even cars cost less at the dealers here.
The total area of the Tad Ton National Park is 217 sq km.
To return on your journey, get on the 212 and follow the signs back to Tad Ton Waterfall. The same road leads to two other parks and onto the north. Along the way out of town are a couple of fascinating Buddhist temples to visit and take pictures of. There are also some excellent plant stores on the road.
If you drive back and forth from home, you can pick up unique, inexpensive flora for your garden. Some of these plants are only found in Isaan and will be something to remember your trip by.
Tad Ton National Park was designated Thailand's 23rd National Park in 1980. This park is 23 km North of Chaiyaphum Town. The main tourist attractions are the Tat Fa, Pha Lang, and Pha Song Chan Falls, and the Tad Ton Waterfall is the most famous tourist attraction. Visitors can spend a night here in a rented camp or a cottage.
Thai Citizens: 40 Thai Baht for Adults | 20 Thai Baht for Children
Foreigners: 200 Thai Baht for Adults | 100 Thai Baht for Children
08.00 – 18.00 hrs | Monday – Sunday
Na Fai, Mueang Chaiyaphum District, Chaiyaphum 36000, Thailand
+66 (0) 44 853 332 | +66 (0) 44 853 333
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