Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall is the best waterfall in Thailand and, sadly, is one that you have probably never heard of! Located just an hour from the famous Erawan Waterfall near Kanchanaburi, Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall is a local secret and hidden gem. Seven tiers of cascading beauty are nestled amidst a jungle landscape that makes this a must-see destination on any Thailand itinerary!
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Things to know before you go
While Erawan Falls is a popular day trip from Bangkok, few venture further to Huay Mae Khamin Falls. Therefore, we found information on this spectacular waterfall limited. We have aimed to provide all the information we wish we’d had before visiting Huay Mae Khamin!
When to visit Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall
While Khuean Srinagarindra National Park is open year-round, the most ideal time to visit the Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall is in September and October. These months provide the best balance between water levels, weather and crowd sizes.
The peak season for tourism runs from November to February. While this is less likely to affect your experience at the falls themselves, it will make accommodation and transport less available and potentially more expensive. However, in terms of weather, this is when it is drier and cooler (although temperatures still average around 30°c or 85°F).
During summer (March until May), temperatures can reach 40°c (104°F) and it can be very humid. As water levels may be quite low towards the end of the dry season, it is worth checking to see how the falls are looking if you’re considering travelling during these months. While the falls have historically had water year-round, Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall was closed due to extremely low water levels during the dry season in 2017.
Rainy season is from June to October, with mid-July to mid-August being the wettest months. Water levels are likely to be much higher during this time and tourism lower. It is unlikely to rain all day, but likely that a downpour will occur daily and lasting a few hours. It’s still possible to explore, however you will want to consider that you may get wet!
We visited in June 2019 and found the temperature to be perfect, the falls to be flowing well, and the weather was good for us!
How to get to Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall
Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall is located within Khuean Srinagarindra National Park, 234km from Bangkok, 110km from Kanchanaburi and 43km from the Erawan Falls intersection. Khuean Srinagarindra National Park is northwest of Kanchanaburi town and covers 1532km2 (592 sq. mi.) within Sai Yok, Si Sawat and Thong Pha Phum districts. It was designated a National Park in 1981.
While the falls used to be more difficult to get to, with access only available either by dirt road or car ferries, nowadays it’s much simpler! In 2014, a sealed road opened and now provides direct access from Erawan to Huay Mae Khamin.
After a busy Bangkok itinerary, it is well worth getting out of the city to explore this beautiful area!
Getting to Huay Mae Khamin Falls by Public Transport
There are no public transport options to Huay Mae Khamin Waterfalls, so you will need to arrange your own transport.
Getting to Huay Mae Khamin Falls by Scooter
We elected to rent scooters for the day from Gib & Guy for 200 THB per day. The location comes up on Google maps and he also serves food, so if it looks like a café then you’re in the right place! It was an ideal location for us, as it was only a 2-minute walk from Natee The Riverfront, where we were staying. He was friendly, didn’t ask us to leave a passport (just photo ID), and was flexible with our pick up/drop off time.
This was the first time I had ever ridden a scooter (after doing a couple of hours of lessons in Chiang Mai!). While I was initially scared… because, well, scooters kind of equal serious injury or death in my head… it was honestly REALLY easy. The road is extremely well-maintained all the way and we hardly encountered any traffic. However, please do ride carefully, wear a helmet, and ensure you have good travel insurance that will cover you should you be injured. I will add that it is a long ride so be prepared for a sore butt by the end!
Getting to Huay Mae Khamin Falls by Car or Tuk Tuk
You could also rent a car or arrange private transport from Kanchanburi; any hotel or local travel agent will be happy to help you arrange it, or simply chat with the local tuk tuk/taxi drivers. The cost of this will depend greatly on how long you wish to spend there, or if you want to stop at Erawan Falls as well.
Directions to Huay Mae Khamin Falls from Kanchanaburi
As for directions, it’s super easy and well sign posted in English! From Kanchanaburi, you’ll take the road 3199 towards Erawan Waterfall and Si Sawat district. After you’ve passed Erawan Falls, you will take a left after 1.5km to follow the road that runs on the LEFT side of the reservoir (not towards Si Sawat). From here you’ll find plenty of signage directing you to Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall in English. It will be a 45km drive from the time you make your left to the time you arrive at the entrance to Khuean Srinagarindra National Park, and took about an hour by scooter.
When you arrive at the gate to Khuean Srinagarindra National Park, you will have to pay an entrance fee. The entrance fee is 300 THB for foreigners (children 200 THB) or 100 THB for locals (children 50 THB). You also have to pay 20 THB for a motorbike and 30 THB for other vehicle parking. You will be given a ticket and need to keep this with you as they may check it again (they checked ours!).
Regardless of whether you consider yourself a “local”, you will not be offered a discount even with local ID if you are not from Thailand. Perhaps “native” would be a more appropriate differential term than “local”.
These prices were correct as of June 2019, for current information check on the Thai National Park website.
Khuean Srinagarindra park is open from 6am until 5pm, with last entry at 4:30pm. There are restaurants within the park, but these have irregular opening times, usually closing around 5pm on weekdays and 6-7pm at weekends. Though the park closes at 5pm technically, we pressed into that time frame and no one was around to hustle us out, so this may be a soft closing time or may not be enforced as it is also possible to camp here.
Where to stay
We stayed in Kanchanaburi and visited as a day trip from there. Kanchanaburi provides a great base to explore the region from, with a variety of hotel options for all budgets, as well as plenty of restaurants and bars.
We really enjoyed our stay at Natee The Riverfront; it’s perfectly located in the centre of town and we opted for a scenic room so we could overlook the river landscape. My favourite feature was the jacuzzi bath!
Camping at Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall
If you have more time and are feeling more adventurous, then you can also camp within the park. There are two campsites at the park, one next to the waterfalls and the other overlooking Si Sawat reservoir. It is also possible to rent tents on arrival; small tents cost 150 THB and larger ones are 225 THB, not including accessories. A sleeping set costs 50 THB per person. All of this is payable upon arrival.
There is also the option to stay in one of the national park accommodations, which cost 900 THB per night. It does not seem to be possible to book your campsite online, however the Thai National Park website does suggest that there is a good chance of availability for the onsite bungalows during weekdays.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time, otherwise I would’ve loved to camp here (please let me know if you do!). The campsite and bathrooms were very well maintained and clean. They were very busy when we went as it was a Saturday, but during the week would be virtually empty as it was all local visitors.
What to pack
The hike to each level of the waterfall is not particularly difficult or strenuous, and I managed it in flip flops… although admittedly I did slip onto my butt at one point, but that’s mostly because I’m clumsy!
I’d recommend packing light (particularly if you decide to go by scooter) as you’ll get uncomfortable carrying a heavy backpack around.
- Camera: You will definitely want to bring a camera with you to capture the beauty of Huay Mae Khamin Falls. We use the Sony a7riii and have been in love with it ever since the first photo we took with it. However, for beginners you may wish to consider an entry level DSLR. This will allow you to start getting to grips with manual settings and decide whether photography is something you enjoy enough to invest in.
- Tripod: A tripod is essential if you want to take any long exposure photos of the waterfalls. When traveling, we use the Manfrotto Be Free as it’s lightweight and easy to carry on longer hikes. For times when we require something more stable, we use the Artcise Carbon Fiber Tripod.
- Reef-safe sunscreen: The aquatic life here is delicate and subject to toxins found in regular sunscreen, so we highly recommend buying a reef-safe/eco-friendly sunscreen. We use Stream 2 Sea sunscreen as it’s reefsafe and most of their bottles are made from sugarcane resin rather than plastic.
- Insect repellent – I recommend a plant-based option, again to protect the aquatic life from toxins.
- Swimsuit: Don’t forget your swimsuit so you can truly enjoy the waterfalls!
- Beach towel: We always have a travel towel with us as they are small, dry quickly and don’t collect grit and sand like regular towels.
- Reusable water bottle: We don’t travel anywhere without a reusable water bottle. Remain hydrated without wasting single use plastic bottles! Most restaurants and hotels will refill bottles for you.
- Snacks/lunch – There are restaurants at the waterfall but the opening times are irregular so you may wish to bring food with you.
- Cash – Enough to pay for your entrance fee and any food/drinks you may want.
Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall or Huai Mae Khamin Waterfall?!
You may see the name of the waterfall written in various different ways. It may even vary between two different road signs. This is because the Thai language has its own alphabet and there is no standardised translation of it to the Roman alphabet. You’ll notice this throughout Thailand, with translations of Thai names being written in numerous ways.
Some variations you may see include:
- Huay Mae Khamin
- Huai Mae Khamin
- Huay Maekhamin
- Huay Maekamin
This is true also for the name of the national park that it is found in. You may see this referred to in any of the following ways (plus I’m sure some others that I’ve missed!):
- Khuean Srinagarindra National Park
- Sri Nakarin National Park
- Sri Nakharin National Park
- Si Nakarin National Park
- Srinakarin Dam National Park
So, don’t worry if you see it written differently… it’s all the same beautiful place!
Visiting Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall, Thailand
Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Thailand. Like the more famous and more popular, Erawan Waterfall, it is made up of 7 tiers; although realistically there are more than 7 waterfalls! The waterfall’s source is in the Kala mountain range, east of the park, and eventually flows down to the Khwae Yai River.
Huay Mae Khamin is also known as the “Emerald River” due to its green colouring, different to the azure water of Erawan Falls. The water has sculpted the limestone formations, creating a natural staircase of tumbles and pools as the river cascades down the hillside. Each of the seven tiers are uniquely picturesque and have individual names; Dong Wan, Man Khamin, Wang Na Pha, Chat Kaew, Lai Jon Long, Dong Pee Sua and Rom Klaow.
The trail is divided into two sections: tiers 5-7 and 4-1. The car park is located near the fourth tier, Chat Kaew. The total distance between the first and seventh tiers is approximately 2km, and it is an easy trail.
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Tiers 5-7: Lai Jon Long, Dong Pee Sua and Rom Klaow
When you arrive at the car park you will have the option to begin by visiting tiers 5-7 to the left, or 4-1 to the right. If you have time to walk the entirety of the trail, I highly recommend first visiting tiers 5-7! While they are truly beautiful and absolutely worth visiting, they don’t have the same vibrant colours as tiers 4-1 which may leave you disappointed if done second. If you only have time for one section, make your priority visiting tiers 4-1!
From the car park, cross the bridge and follow the trail to the left. The trail in this direction is unpaved and can be muddy in places but is mostly flat.
We actually missed tier 5 on our way through. On our way back we kept an eye out for it and while we found the location of it (it’s about 300m from the bridge), there wasn’t any water there… just a sign and barrier to look over! Don’t be disheartened… keep going!
To get to tiers 6 and 7, follow the track keeping the river on your left. The trail will take you through thick bamboo forest and banyan trees with butterflies fluttering back and forth across the path. The sound of flowing water will help guide your way.
After about 900m, the forest will open up on your left to reveal tumbling water over the travertine terraces, framed by lush vegetation. You’ve reached Dong Pee Sua, aka Tier 6. These enchanting pools feel as if a fairy may fly by at any moment.
When you’re ready, continue along the trail another 200m and you’ll discover tier 7 scenically nestled into the surrounding forest. There are also some benches here to take a rest or cool off under the cascading falls.
Tier 4: Chat Kaew
To reach tiers 4-1, you need to turn back down the trail and cross back over the wooden bridge. Immediately after you cross the bridge, turn left and follow the path.
If you are coming from the parking lot and elect to do this section first, you will simply make a right onto the trail BEFORE crossing the bridge,
After less than 200m, you’ll arrive at tier 4. This impressive tier is the highest drop out of all the falls at Huay Mae Khamin. The falls appear to be entirely encompassed by rich green jungle, and I was mesmerised watching the green water topple over the edge, becoming a white stream that crashed onto the rocks below.
This is the only tier that you are not able to swim at.
After being slightly underwhelmed by tiers 5-7, Huay Mae Khamin had truly impressed me with tier 4 and I was excited to continue on to see what other treasures we would uncover.
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Tiers 3-1: Wang Na Pha, Man Khamin and Dong Wan
This side of the trail is boarded, with stairs and handrails. It is also a much shorter, although slightly steeper, trail, with tier 1 being only 450m from tier 4. It was also my favourite section.
Continuing from tier 4, a quick walk down the stairs will bring you to tier 3. I couldn’t resist getting in for another dip, the vibrant water was calling my name! After leaving the crowds at Erawan National Park earlier that day, it felt surreal for us to be once again alone in such a tranquil environment.
You may have already noticed that while there are plenty of signs along the trail in Thai, there’s not so many in English. The countless mini-falls between the main tiers make it difficult to determine where one level begins and another ends. I’m also not entirely sure how they decided what was a “tier”.
We came across two signs we couldn’t read, so we assumed they were tiers 2 and 1! However, realistically it didn’t really matter which tier we were at, by this point we were lost in the tranquility and beauty of each new scene.
Follow the path down and take your time to explore each of the magical rock shelves, smoothly carved out by the continuous flow of water.
On a weekday, you’ll likely only be disturbed by the sounds of chirping birds and buzzing insects. During the weekend, Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall is very popular with locals. However, it’s still not overrun and it’s entirely possible to find a heavenly little pool all to yourself.
Despite being only a short distance between tiers 4 and 1, there are so many unique vantage points to find that it’s worth giving yourself plenty of time for these levels.
At the end of the trail you’ll reach a small hydro-electric power station where electricity for the park’s buildings is generated from the power of the water. To get back to the car park you will need to return up the same path, which allows you the opportunity to view all the bottom tiers from a new angle.
Equipment for Waterfall Photography
While it is possible to capture long exposure photographs of waterfalls on your iPhone using the Live Mode option, for the best possible photos you may want to consider a few key pieces of photography gear:
- Camera: I use the Sony a7riii and have been in love with it ever since the first photo I took with it. However, for beginners you may wish to consider an entry level DSLR. This will allow you to start getting to grips with manual settings and decide whether photography is something you enjoy enough to invest in.
- Lens: The lens I use most frequently is the Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS as the zoom lens allows for the most diversity. I also often use the Laowa 15mm F2 for shots that require a wider angle.
- Tripod: A tripod is essential if you want to create a long exposure waterfall image. When traveling, I use the Manfrotto Be Free as it’s lightweight and easy to carry on longer hikes. For times when I require something more stable, I use the Artcise Carbon Fiber Tripod.
- Filters: A Circular Polarizing (CPL) filter (CPL) or Neutral Density (ND) filter are very useful for allowing slower shutter speeds and for cutting glare on the water. The best CPL and ND filters I have found are the Quartzline from Polar Pro.
Other things to do in Khuean Srinagarindra National Park
There are several cave systems within Khuean Sringarindra National Park. Some of these include:
- Tham Sawan – features pre-historic cave paintings
- Tham Neramit – features stalagmites and stalactites
- Tham Phra Prang – features stalagmites and stalactites, as well as a Buddha image inside
- Tham Nam Mut
- Tham Phra Kho
Pha Tat Waterfall is another waterfall that is popular with locals and can be busy during the weekend. It is comprised of three tiers and can be found on the west side of the park, 140km from Kanchanaburi. It is easily accessible and has a campsite.
Pha Sawan waterfall is one of the larger waterfalls, with its highest level at over 80m high. It is accessible by 4-wheel drive along a steep and difficult road, then a 40 minute walk through dense forest. However, for those adventurous enough to visit, it provides a spectacular reward.
Other things to do near Kanchanaburi Thailand
If you’re staying in Kanchanaburi then it’s well worth spending some time to explore around the area. There are several other national parks, including Erawan National Park and Sai Yok National Park. These parks are home to the famous Erawan Waterfall and Sai Yok Noi Waterfall. This part of Thailand is a treasure trove of natural beauty and home to the best waterfalls in Thailand.
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