Kai Bae Waterfall doesn’t merit a mention in any of the popular guidebooks for Koh Chang and isn’t marked on maps. And yet it does exist, it’s being only grudgingly acknowledged by locals and long term expats who speak of the ‘Secret waterfall’ in hushed tones less it be discovered by outsiders . . . i.e. You. But in the spirit of glasnost and seeing as there’s a sign in English pointing towards it, here is a quick guide on how to find the mythical Kai Bae waterfall.
The good news is that it is relatively easy to get to and you don’t have to pay a National Park entry fee to visit it. Even more enticingly, it isn’t located in a remote location. It is 30 minutes walk from Kai Bae beach. Anyone will just a couple of fluid ounces of adventurous spirit flowing through their veins will be able to get there and you could even take your kids. Although why you would want to do that is beyond me as they would just want an ice cream or there would be too many insects or the water would be too cold. So, on second thoughts, maybe best to leave them in the bungalow with their Facebook friends and just pray they aren’t being groomed online by an obese, balding, 60 year old pervert in your absence.
The best time to visit is from May to November. During this time the plunge pool will have enough water to swim in and there will still be water coming over the top, so good for photos and less chance of catching a dodgy waterborne disease.
The starting point for your walk is the 7-eleven opposite the entrance to Kai Bae Hut. Go inside and buy a couple of bottles of water and a packet of mints or, if you have money to burn, an isotonic energy drink and bag of roasted cashews. It doesn’t really matter which, but history tells us that the great explorers never set off without supplies for their journey and neither should you.
From here take the dirt road leading inland. You will go past workers homes on the right and Sanook Sanag Resort on the left, then the road does a sharp left and then right.
On your right you will see corrugated iron slums, followed by, on the left the laundry for Sea View Resort. The dirt road now meanders through a pomelo field, you will pass the water tower on your right and a couple of hundred metres further on, look for a stone walled compound about 50 metres off the road on your left. This is a wild pig farm, go and take a look. (Guess where that BBQ pork you had last night came from?)
Another couple of hundred metres and ouwill come to a paved road and will see a few bungalows and a concrete sign in Thai. A little further on, a sign in Englishpoints the way to the footpath leading to the waterfall. The owner of the bungalows may or may not ask you for 20 baht for crossing her land. If she does, then just pay her. From the 7-eleven to this point is about 15 minutes walk.
The footpath takes you past the front of a couple of newly built concrete bungalows that can be reted longterm – nice place to stay and then takes you onto a very narrow path which runs parallel to and a few metres above, the river. The path isn’t always easy to follow as it is quite overgrown, especially in rainy season. Even though you are not far from civilisation you get a feeling of being in dense jungle.
The canopy blocks out the sun, there are lots of things that buzz and bite or crawl and bite. The good news is that for most of the way, blue plastic water pipes run alongside the path, so you don’t have to be a wilderness expert to guess that they lead towards the waterfall. A short distance before you reach the fall the riverside path ends and although you can’t see the falls it is under 100 metres walk away up the river bed.
The walk upstream is easy, only one deeper pool that you have to edge your way around – unless you want to get very wet and then you reach the plunge pool. From starting along the trail in the jungle to this point takes around 15-20 minutes, even allowing for having to tread gingerly in places.
The trail can be slippery in places and many rocks are covered in moss, so take care. You will need footwear that you don’t mind getting wet. Walking sandals are a better choice than trainers or flip-flops.
There is a mobile phone signal all the way – so if you have an accident or get lost you can at least call someone back home to say your Goodbyes. Doing that is infintely more worthwhile than wasting your remaining battery to try to explain your predicament to any of the emergency services on Koh Chang.
Location: ( Roughly )