Road Trippin' to Tat Mok
Tat Mok National Park is a gorgeous park located in the mountains just outside of Muang Phetchabun, in Phetchabun Province. The park is a sprawling 290 sq/km (or 110 sq/m) of rugged mountains, waterfalls, streams, and stunning natural beauty. Recently some friends and myself made the drive up through the mountains to do some hiking and to see the waterfalls!
The journey from Muang Phetchabun begins with a short drive (15 km/10 mi) to the outskirts of the city. Once you arrive at the entrance to the national park you pay 100 THB per person (for foreigners) and 20 THB per motorcycle. Once through the gate you begin the ascent up the mountain, which is when the real fun begins.
The mountain road winds up and down for a bit with a couple stop-offs to stop and take a break, have some water, and snap some photos. The views are insanely gorgeous; I could probably have spent the whole day just sitting at the first rest stop staring off at the mountains. But, alas we had waterfalls to see, so the journey continues.
Some of the numerous overlooks on the way up the mountain.
After another 30-45 minutes of driving you finally arrive at the entrance to the hiking trail, which leads you to the numerous waterfalls. Let me first say that I am an avid hiker back home in the states, but hiking in Thailand is a whole other beast. The heat and humidity (especially in the jungle) can be quite oppressive, so be sure to pack lots of water and snacks to stay hydrated and keep your energy level up!
Left to right: Trail sign at the beginning of the hike. Amanda and a giant leaf. A stream.
The hike to the waterfalls is really breathtaking. I've hiked through the Appalachians a bit, but the beauty of a Thai jungle is really something you have to see for yourself to believe. The huge palm trees, sounds of the birds and insects, the really awesome lizards, and much more all make for an amazing (and difficult) hike.
After about 45 minutes of hiking you finally come to a fork, one direction leads to Tat Mok Waterfall (a single-level waterfall), and the other direction leads to Song Na Waterfall (a 12-level waterfall). Both are equally amazing in their own right, and I'd suggest seeing both if you have the time and energy.
Pictures of Tat Mok Waterfall (single-level and no bees).
However here is where my story gets interesting... The first waterfall we chose to visit was Song Na. We arrived and immediately hopped underneath the water to cool off and hang out. It was spectacular and refreshing, until we began noticing the bees swarming around our belongings. I was the first causality, and after getting stung the first time I was immediately ready to get the hell out of there. The number of bees was quickly rising; you couldn't stand still for more than a few seconds with being covered in them. We immediately tried to gather our things as quickly as possible and leave, but this was quite difficult with hundreds of bees surrounding us! I was stung twice more as we got away; and we were followed by bees the rest of the way back to our motorbikes! Luckily we escaped relatively unscathed and began our journey back down the mountain.
Song Na Waterfall (12 levels and 120000 bees).
The trip to Tat Mok was really incredible (save for the run-in with the bees...) and I would highly suggest anyone who is in the area to take a visit! The drive up the mountain is very relaxing and gorgeous, and the waterfalls at the end are well worth it.