Thinking of visiting Erawan Waterfalls in Thailand? Find out the best time to visit, what to expect and more tips for your trip.
With seven tiers of beautiful cascading waterfalls, emerald green pools and adventurous trails through the forest, a visit to Erawan Waterfalls is a must if you’re visiting Thailand. After an exciting week exploring Koh Lanta, Krabi and Khao Sok National Park, we headed to Bangkok and caught a bus north to Kanchanaburi.
There are two main reasons people visit Kanchanaburi: 1) to see the Bridge over the River Kwai and relive the dark history of the region during during World War 2, and 2) to visit Erawan Waterfalls. I never planned to write this blog, but arrived home and couldn’t get the beautiful waterfalls out of my mind. I was pretty reserved with my photos there, so I don’t have thousands to share, but if you’re travelling to the region, you should definitely make time to visit. You won’t regret it!
Where Are Erawan Waterfalls Located?
The waterfalls are located in Erawan National Park in Kanchanaburi Province, just over 50 km north of the main city of Kanchanaburi.
How To Get From Kanchanaburi To Erawan Waterfalls?
There are several ways to get to Erawan Waterfalls.
There are public buses from Kanchanaburi to Erawan Waterfalls. It’s the cheapest and most convenient way to reach the national park. You need to catch the 1870 bus, which leaves from the main bus station, as well as stopping at a few places along the main road in Kanchanaburi.
Tickets for the bus from Kanachanaburi to Erawan cost just 50 THB, and buses are pretty regular (every hour ish). We caught the bus there around 10am, and when we visited, the return buses left at 8.30am, 10am, 12, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm.
Lots of people hire scooters in Thailand, as they’re an easy way to get around. From Kanchanaburi, the ride is pretty easy, and takes around one hour. We considered doing this, but a few tourists we met the day before mentioned it was a very hot ride, and quite a long way, and recommended the public bus.
If there are quite a few of you travelling, it might be worth hiring a car. There’s a huge car park at Erawan, so parking is nice and easy.
There are also a few guest houses near the park, from which you could hire bikes and cycle to the park. However, it’s hot all year round, so I wouldn’t recommend anything involving too much physical activity! Save your energy for hiking the trails within the national park itself.
Visiting Erawan Waterfalls
The waterfalls at Erawan are absolutely incredible. So many tiers, so much beauty and plenty of beautiful trails too. While the waterfalls are known for having seven tiers, there are plenty of smaller cascades along the route too. Taking in the vibrant turquoise shades of the water, watching the fish swimming around and splashing in the pools is a lot of fun, and it’s easy to see why this is one of the best day trips from Kanchanaburi!
In terms of the route, there’s a trail of around 1.5km through the forest which takes you past each of the seven main waterfalls. You’ll be surprised by how different each one is. Some are tall with powerful, towering walls of water, while others are gentler, with smaller rock pools below. The top tier is said to resemble an elephant’s head, hence the name Erawan (the name of the three-headed white elephant in Hinduism).
The trail to the first 5 waterfalls is easy to follow, with routes through the forest, crossing occasional footbridges and climbing some steps in the rocks. Later in the route, things become a little more treacherous. There are a few parts which involve clambering over slippery rocks, and wading through streams. It wasn’t particularly dangerous, but if you’re not very mobile, or carrying small kids, it may be worth avoiding the last section.
It’s always hot and humid in this region, so no doubt you’ll want to go swimming at Erawan Waterfalls. There are plenty of pools which are easily accessible. Just leave your personal belongings on a rock and take a dip. The water is wonderfully refreshing (i.e. a bit cold – but no complaints when we had temperatures of 38 degrees!)
Beware though – there are lots of fish! They love nibbling dead skin, just like a fish spa / fish pedicure! They’re harmless, but definitely take a bit of getting used to. I was screaming and squeaking a lot when I first got in. It was such a tickly feeling!
While lots of people swim at the seven waterfalls, there are some secluded spots in between too. In terms of safety, there aren’t lifeguards exactly, but there are park rangers dotted around if you have any concerns. You can also hire lifejackets if you want them.
There’s a picnic area towards the start of the route. In fact, lots of people enter the park just to enjoy a bite to eat by the water. There are strict rules about taking food and drink past tier 2. To discourage people leaving plastic waste, you’ll need to pay a 20 THB refundable deposit to take a plastic bottle with you. If only more tourist attractions did that!
There are plenty of tours from Bangkok to Erawan Waterfalls, but as it’s already over three hours to the national park, it won’t be the most relaxing day. Usually the tours do a stop at the Bridge over the River Kwai too.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Erawan Waterfalls?
There are a few things to bear in mind when deciding when to visit Erawan Waterfalls.
Firstly, I’d recommend visiting on a weekday. Avoid weekends if you can as they tend to be a lot busier.
Arrive early if possible. Get the first bus of the day if you can. Temperatures and number of visitors only increase as the day goes on.
The waterfalls are open from 8am – 4.30pm all year round. As it takes around an hour to reach the furthest point (if walking at a moderate pace), you’ll find the rangers start ushering people down from the top tiers from 3pm onwards.
It’s also worth bearing in mind Thailand’s seasonal weather too. Rainy season runs from May to October. It’s unlikely to close the park, but the rain could make trails a little more treacherous, and the water a bit muddier and murkier. Don’t let this put you off visiting though!
We visited during the hottest season (Feb to April) and I’ll admit I struggled with the heat in Kanchanaburi more than anywhere else in Thailand. Temperatures were higher, hitting 40 degrees one day! Obviously, there’s a chance there will be less water when visiting at this time of year, but this wasn’t a problem we encountered. It was pretty stifling trekking through the forest, but the ice cream once we arrived back at the visitor centre was a great reward!
The coolest time to visit Erawan is between November and January. With temperatures around 30 degrees, it’s probably the most comfortable time to take the trip.
How Much Does It Cost To Visit Erawan Waterfalls?
Erawan Waterfalls entry fee: 300 THB / 200 THB for kids or 100 THB for locals
Public bus from Kanchanaburi to Erawan Waterfalls: 50 THB each way
Water bottle deposit cost: 20 THB
What To Pack And What To Wear To Erawan Waterfalls?
Swimwear – Don’t forget a bikini, swimming costume or trunks so you can enjoy the cooling waters of Erawan.
GoPro or Camera – If you want to capture photos and videos in the water, then I’d recommend the new GoPro Hero 7. I’ve been using it on lots of trips and the footage and photos are great. It’s really durable, and with its hypersmooth stabilisation, the footage is really steady.
Footwear – I wore trainers to visit, but to be honest I’d have found a sandal with secure straps or water shoes better. You need something with a bit of grip, but I had to take them off towards the higher levels as there was some wading involved, so something you don’t need to take off or that slips on easily would be great. Alternatively flip flops would be fine, but you’ll need to be ok with walking barefoot for a few sections where there’s water.
Water – I’d recommend a minimum of 1 litre per person. I mentioned the region was experiencing temperatures of over 35 degrees, so it was seriously hot, but it’s always around 30, so you’ll want to stay hydrated. I didn’t see anywhere to fill up bottles along the route, but you can purchase drinks at the beginning and at tier 2.
Dry bag – Not a necessity, but obviously if you have items you want to ensure are kept dry, then using a dry bag might be a good idea.
Comfortable, breathable clothing – I wore shorts and a strappy vest top, with my bikini on underneath. My denim shorts weren’t the best option, as once I’d got a bit wet they chafed a little! I’d recommend cotton or other light materials.
Money – Bring a few extra Thai Baht to buy an ice cream after!
I hope this guide to visiting Erawan Waterfalls has got you excited for your trip! Any questions, send me an email or leave a comment below. If you’re looking for other places to visit in Thailand, I LOVED my time in Khao Sok National Park. I also REALLY enjoyed eating my way around Bangkok.
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