Situated in the middle of the island of Koh Phangan is Phaeng Waterfall.
A waterfall which has been a part of Koh Phangan’s National Forest Park since 1977.
Thanks to its diverse landscapes, Koh Phangan has numerous waterfalls dotted across the island. Waterfalls such as Hin Lat, Than Sadet and Paradise waterfall to name a few, but today I’ll be writing about Phaeng Waterfall. Because on this particular sunny day, that’s exactly where I was visiting.
Situated in the middle of the island, Phaeng Waterfall is situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty. An area which plays host to a variety of animals, including tropical birds, bugs, butterflies and the occasional monkey. But Phaeng Waterfall doesn’t stand alone, because it’s actually home to more than one waterfall. Waterfalls that, as I stood at the entrance to Phaeng Waterfall in front of a signpost telling me what to expect, I realised I wasn’t technically equipped to climb.
You see, I was wearing my usual off-duty combo: shorts, a loose fitting t-shirt and Havaianas.
This situation has happened more than I should admit. But my trusty flip-flops had helped me climb many waterfalls previous to this, and I wasn’t planning to admit defeat before trying.
As I walked through the grounds of the Than Sadet national park I found Phaeng Noi, a waterfall so steep, it cannot be climbed on. The Phaeng Waterfalls are a result of water running down from the high hills, and because of this Phaeng Noi is usually a magnificent sight, with pounding water cascading down the rocks and over the edge in a powerful statement.
However, due to the time of year I was visiting, it was running a little dryer than usual…
What’s The Best Season To Visit Phaeng Waterfall?
Due to Thailand’s increasing temperatures the waterfalls aren’t always filled and as a result, can sometimes feel a little underwhelming for visitors when they run dry. Because of this, the best time to visit waterfalls in Thailand is during the wet season, or soon after significant rainfall. But that’s not to say you won’t see anything. Because on our way to the top of the peak, we came across Phaeng Yai, a waterfall that hits the hillocks as it cascades down, causing bubbles of frothy white water as it does so.
I couldn’t help but imagine how powerful it must look during the wet season—with the force of flowing water pounding down the well-worn path, but it was still beautiful to look at with the levels of water which remained year-round.
Getting to Phaeng Yai waterfall, however, is a bit of a mission. It involves climbing a steep 250m track that will burn your calf-muscles by the time you reach the top. But when you do, you’ll be rewarded with an impressive waterfall and a nice cool pool to cool down with.
Or you can do what I did, and veer off towards Dom Sila viewpoint instead. Which features another challenging hike, about 200m in a different direction! Which, doesn’t seem like much when you’re reading about it through a screen, but when you’re there in the midday heat, climbing upwards, with a challenging terrain which requires the use of natural steps formed from ancient tree roots to get you there, it’s a lil bit more difficult.
But once you’re there, it’s worth it.
Because Phaeng Waterfall has something which is uniquely special:
The Dom Sila viewpoint.
The walk to the top is by no means easy, but once you climb up an increasingly steep slope, step through thick vines, swear a few times over your blatant disregard for appropriate footwear and step over the dried out trenches created where water gushes through during Thailand’s wet season, you’ll find an opening.
An opening that when you climb just that little bit further, onto the giant rocks in front of you, you can sit down (yay) and look at this.
Wide outstretched views of the lush jungles of Koh Phangan.
Greenery which stretches for as far as the eye can see.
It’s incredibly refreshing.
And I’m not talking about the heat—that’s suffocating, especially after the hike up. I’m talking about the emotions that flush through you when you look out at such a view and find yourself filled with gratitude. Gratitude that seems to come in sweeping moments when the world makes you feel small, in the best possible way. Moments like being stood at the top of Phaeng Waterfall, surrounded by treetops, clouds and an unparalleled view. Inescapable moments. The type that force you to be present and think of nothing more than what’s directly in front of you.
There’s something completely freeing about how the world can make you feel so small and insignificant, and as I stood on Dom Sila viewpoint at Phaeng Waterfall it’s all I could think about.
For about ten minutes.
Then all I could think about was my dire need for cold water and a bit of shade.
So with that, I began my walk back down Phaeng Waterfall. Passing smaller falls and dipping my toes into the ice-cold water as I went, searching for moments of relief from the heat. Until I reached the bottom, where I found myself no longer craving the sweet, sweet hydration of H20, and instead with the craving for an ice-cold Cha Nom Yen. So that’s exactly what I left to go and find!
How To Get Phaeng Waterfall In Koh Phangan
Local attractions are pretty well signposted in Koh Phangan, and so if you’re travelling via car or scooter just type the below address into Google Maps and it’ll be easy to find!
Address: Phaeng Waterfall, Ko Pha-ngan, Ko Pha-ngan District, Surat Thani 84280, Thailand.
Opening hours: The waterfall is open from 8 am – 4 pm every day. However, because of the heat and the nature of the climb, I’d recommend visiting before noon.
Tips For Visiting Phaeng Waterfall
- You can take the climb as fast or as slow as you need to, however, I recommend setting aside at least 3 hours for your trip so that you can move at your own pace, whilst allowing plenty of time to enjoy your surroundings.
- Carry water with you. Even though many areas are shaded, the forest is pretty dense and can feel incredibly hot as a result.
- If you’re set on seeing the waterfalls at their finest, check the weather before you go. The best time of year to visit will always be the wet season but just bear in mind that the rocks and trails can become incredibly slippery during this season.
- If the waterfall is fast-flowing, don’t try and walk through it. That’s just asking for trouble! Currents are often stronger than they look, and it’s quite the walk, so not really the place to hurt yourself!
- Wear sensible shoes. Flip flops are not the appropriate footwear to wear for hiking waterfalls. Despite the fact that I have done so at almost every waterfall I’ve visited in this country. Be better than me. Wear sensible shoes!