Looking for a hidden gem, a tranquil magical place that feels like a lucky find? Multi-level waterfalls so crystal clear emerald green you may wonder you ended up in a fairytale? Staying in Kanchanaburi but want to avoid the crowds at Erawan Falls? Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall in Khuean Srinagarindra National Park is your place-to-be! In this article I will tell you all about the awe-inspiring Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall.
I’ve seen quite a bit of waterfalls throughout the world, but never a waterfall with so many levels and such pretty emerald green colored water. It looks surreal! Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall is a great alternative for the well-known and popular Erawan Falls. Pretty much everything Erawan has to offer, but without the crowds. Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall is more off the beaten track and Zen. From Erawan I know that part of the visitors do not visit all levels. At Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall, all levels are worth visiting.
Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall is also known as ‘the Emerald River’ – the reason is obvious. Some refer to it as ‘the Secret waterfalls of Kanchanaburi’. You should have seen the face of the hotel receptionist when we informed about visiting Huay Mae Khamin by private driver. Apparently, not many people ask about going to this magical place. I guess because they simply do not know about it. A pity because I think this is a must-see when visiting Thailand!
Huay Mae Khamin Waterfalls
Besides the overall name Huay Mae Khanim Waterfall, each individual level of the waterfall also has a name. There are 7 levels (tiers) with waterfalls. The camping site and central parking lot are located in the middle of the 7 levels.
Levels on the west side (right hand-side from camping):
- #1 Dong Wan 565m
- #2 Man Khamin 480m
- #3 Wang Na Pha 210m
- #4 Chat Kaeo or Chatkaew 110m
Levels on the east side (left hand-side from camping):
- #5 Lai Chon Long or Laijonlong 245m
- #6 Dong Phi Suea or Dongpheserl 1,035m
- #7 Rom Klao or Romkaev 1,185m
Just beyond level 1 there is also a small visitor center. The 4th waterfall is the highest. At the 5th waterfall you can see the so-called ‘sinkhole phenomenon’. The 7th waterfall seemed the most popular among swimmers. On the east side (3-2-1) the water color seemed brighter than on the west side (5-6-7).
Both the individual waterfalls and Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall are being spelled in various ways. Huay Mae Khamin is often spelled as Huai Mae Khamin for example. Not strange when you consider the fact that in the park itself the name is also spelled differently on information boards and signs. Oh well, on the main official sign in the park it is spelled as Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall, so let’s stick to that.
Paths at Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall
Along these waterfalls goes a path, the Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall Nature Trail. On the west side (5-6-7) the path is 565m gravel path. On the east side (4-3-2-1) there is a 1,185m path, mostly made of wooden planks. So in total the Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall Nature Trail is 1,750 meters long.
The trail (1-7) is not in a circle, meaning most people will walk both sides back and forth, ending up at the parking lot at the camping site in the middle at waterfall #4. When walking both ways (4-3-2-1 + 5-6-7) back and forth, you will walk about 3.5 km (2.2 miles).
We spent about 2 hours walking the Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall Nature Trail. Obviously, how much time you will need at this trail will depend on several factors; your speed of walking, temperature, whether it rained or not (slippery), the number of photos you are taking, whether you will go into the water or not, etc. Just enjoy!
On the west side, somewhere between the 5th and 6th level, you can take a by-pass path. This is the Pavaw Cliff to Donghersoure Nature Trail, which is 800m (short loop) up to 2,500m (short+long loop) one way. We decided not to take this bypass as it does not include any extra waterfalls.
Pick a side
You will have to decide which side you will do first. The west side ascends (goes up) from the parking lot. Especially the last waterfall #7 tends to attract people, also to go into the water and on top of the fall. When you start the Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall Nature Trail in the first half of the morning, you may want to start with the west side. The east side descends (goes down) from the parking lot, which costs less energy and sweat. It is usually a bit quieter compared to the west side.
Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall Nature Trail is open daily 06:30-17:00h. The trail is rather easy to walk, also for children. The path along the waterfall is gradually descending and ascending. For the visitors’ convenience and safety there are wooden stairs, boardwalks and several benches.
In dry season the east side can be done on sandals. For the west side I would suggest to wear sneakers as the path includes many small rocks. In wet season the paths can become slippery and muddy, especially the west side (5-6-7), but the falls will be more spectacular with a bigger water flow than in dry season.
The trails are well maintained. Despite the fact we visited Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall on December 30, it was not crowded on the trails at all. Not rarely we were alone for a while when we stopped to admire a certain waterfall. Swooning. Off-season Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall is most peaceful.
On hot days for sure it is a welcome refreshment to be able to jump into the water to cool down. On the other hand, we slightly felt like the people in the water were ruining the picture of such natural beauty a bit… But I could not blame them of course. Besides the difference in number of visitors, at Erawan Falls there are fish in the water, which I did not see in the waters of Huay Mae Khamin.
Flora and fauna
The forest around Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall mostly consists of bamboo and other exotic green plants and trees. It felt like we were in the jungle, which is amplified by the sounds of exotic birds. There are several information boards along the trail that explain the flora, fauna and rules of the area, both in Thai and (faulty) English.
When spending time around Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall, you may notice the so-called caddis fly. An adult caddis fly looks-like a butterfly. Caddis flies are closely related to moths and butterflies. They are actually a natural indicator of the water cleanness and an important factor in the food chain. Caddis flies are mostly active at night.
To preserve the nature and keep all visitors safe, the following rules are applicable at Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall:
- Please stay on the trail and swim only where allowed
- No diving, no rock climbing, no jumping (fine = THB 500)
- No usage of soap and shampoo allowed
- Keep noise to a minimum and avoid touching any plants
- No pets, food, drinks, alcohol, smoking or littering
- Visitors with congenital disease are not allowed to swim (not kidding!)
Khuean Srinagarindra National Park
Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall is the highlight of Khuean Srinagarindra National Park. The park was opened in 1981. The Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall flows from the mountains to Khwae Yai River and Khuean Srinagarindra Reservoir. Khuean Srinagarindra National Park is also referred to under different names, including for example Sri Nakarin Dam National Park.
Besides waterfalls, the 1,532 km2 National Park has more to offer, such as caves, forests and the Srinagarind Reservoir. The Srinagarind Dam at Hydro Power Plant Sinakharin provides a fabulous view on the surrounding mountains and Khwae Yai River – free of charge!
There are multiple caves in Khuean Srinagarindra National Park, see also the map below. Some of the caves have pre-historic paintings. Thai soldiers hid in these caves during the war against the Burmese in the 18th Century. Nowadays, leopard cat, civet, squirrel, parakeets and kingfishers are some of the most impressive residents of Khuean Srinagarindra NP.
More to see
Should you want to see more of Khuean Srinagarindra National Park than Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall alone, I’d suggest to consider visiting in the area by car:
- Srinagarind Dam Viewpoint near Erawan
- Tham Phra Prang cave and/or Phra That Cave
- Pha Sawan Waterfall at the 6081 road
- Noen Sawan Viewpoint at the 3091 road
- Hin Dat Hot Spring, a geothermal spring in forest setting
If you want, it is possible to combine visiting Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall and the popular Erawan Falls on one day from Kanchanaburi. An/or Sai Yok Yai Waterfall. For the die-hard waterfall lovers!
What does a daytrip cost?
On this day we spend the following:
- Private car with driver 2200 THB (return)
- Admission NP 300 THB per person for foreigners
- Car THB 30 or scooter THB 20
- Chicken skewer 10 THB x 6
- Lunch THB 60 full plate x 2
- Total: 3,010 THB ≈ EUR 83 or USD 100 for 2 persons
Right between the two parking lots you will find a food market where fresh Thai dishes are prepared. In the battle against single-use plastic and foam, food is served on porcelain plates. We had a tasty lunch here and grabbed some snacks to go, such as tasty chicken skewers. The only way to buy the food here is with coupons, which you can buy with the cashier. Any left-over coupons can be returned back to the cashier. One thing is for sure: you’ll eat between locals and other Thai people here!
The food market of Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall is open Monday-Friday 07:00-17:00h, and on Saturday, Sunday and holidays 06:00-19:00h. Right next to the food market, you will also find the public restroom and showers for camping guests. Don’t be surprised when running into people here that are dressed in their PJ’s, brushing their teeth or washing their face in the sink. Thai camping life! And bring your own toilet paper, as usual in Thailand.
Here is an example of an itinerary for your visit to the Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall.
- 06:30/06:45 departure from Kanchanaburi accommodation
- 08:30 arrival at Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall parking lot
- 09:00-11:00 walk the Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall Nature Trail
- 11:00-12:00 lunch at food market
- 12:00-14:00 return trip to Kanchanaburi, or visit surroundings (see below More to see)
How to get to Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall
Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall is in the Si Sawat District. From Kanchanaburi to Khuean Srinagarindra National Park and Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall is about 110 kilometers in northwestern direction. This ride takes almost 2 hours by car (one way). Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall is approximately 45 km further northwards than Erawan.
There is a public bus line between Kanchanaburi and Erawan Falls (THB 50 one way). This bus goes about 10 times per day between 08:00h and 17:00h. There is no public bus from Kanchanaburi and/or Erawan that goes all the way to Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall. From Erawan to Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall (45km) you will need to take a taxi, tuk-tuk or hitchhike. This may explain partly why Erawan Falls is much more crowded than Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall.
Huay Mae Khamin is not offered as standard tour from Kanchanaburi or Bangkok, which is another clear sign of its hidden gem status. We arranged a private driver via the reception desk of our accommodation (see below Where to stay) one day in advance. Customized (half) day tours from Kanchanaburi to Huay Mae Khamin Waterfalls start around THB 2000 for two adults, excluding lunch.
The benefit of hiring a private driver is not only speed and convenience (less stressful and tiring), but also the fact that you can start as early/late as you want. Starting early is a smart thing to do. Especially when the temperature in the morning is still bearable. And to avoid any potential crowds. Besides, with a private driver you can go back to your accommodation whenever you want. No need to ‘wait for the rest of the group’ as you would have to when joining a group tour.
I would strongly recommend to pre-discuss with your driver should you want to see more on the day than Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall alone (for suggestions see above More to see). For sure the driver will ask for more money if you want to see more. And it is probably easier to talk in English with the receptionist of your accommodation than with your Thai driver. Moreover considering the possibility your mobile’s internet connection may not work too well in the mountains (Google Translate).
Visit from Bangkok
Khuean Srinagarindra National Park is approximately 250km from Bangkok. This obviously depends on where exactly from in this big metropolitan. The easiest ways to visit Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall from Bangkok would be: join a group tour, rent a car or hire a private driver. Group tour is often the cheapest out of those three options, since you will share transportation. It is also the least flexible.
From Bangkok Mochity New Van Terminal you can come as far as Erawan NP by mini-van in about 4 hours (200 km, EUR 6). As mentioned earlier, from Erawan to Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall (45km) you will then need to take a taxi, tuk tuk or hitchhike as there is no bus connection between those two. If you would rather visit Erawan instead of Huay Mae Khamin, you might be interested in this 2-day private tour from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi and Erawan.
Rental car Kanchanaburi
Renting a car can be a good option to explore the Kanchanaburi area. Wee did not see many very steep or narrow roads. Just be careful from which company you rent. Many international rental companies, including my favorites Sunny Cars, Avis and Myrentacar.com (incl. Europcar, Thrifty, Alamo and Hertz) do not have any rental stations in or near Kanchanaburi (yet).
Should you wish to rent a car and drive yourself around Kanchanaburi, for example to Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall and/or Hellfire Pass, I would suggest to rent a car starting from one of the two airports in Bangkok. Especially if you drive yourself, I’d advise to download Google Maps area map and Thai language in Google Translate app on your smartphone, to make offline usage possible.
Renting a scooter or motorcycle
Personally I would find driving from Kanchanaburi and Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall by scooter too long. This would easily cost you 4 hours. Scooters in Thailand have a motor capacity equal to a motor cycle. Otherwise they would not be able to get up a hill. Therefore scooters are considered equal to motorcycles by insurances for example. So please only hire a scooter motorbicycle when you have:
- an international motor driver’s license
- proper insurance
- sufficient experience riding a motorbike
Often local scooter and motorcyle rental companies do not ask about driver’s license but will demand your passport as a deposit. You must realize that when you damage the scooter or motorcycle and your insurance does not cover, you will have to pay for the damage yourself in order to get back your passport! And in case you would damage someone else while you are not licensed and not insured to drive a motorcycle, there will be a lot more negative consequences.
When to visit Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall
Khuean Srinagarindra National Park is open daily 06:00-17:00h, last entry at 16:30h. Great months to visit are November, December, January and February, in general great months to visit Thailand if you ask me, as it is cooler than average. Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall Nature Trail is mostly in the shade and you can cool off in the water. That means in summer months like July and August you can definitely enjoy your time here as well.
The falls are most beautiful early in the morning, when the first rays of the sunlight touch the emerald colored water.
Visiting Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall around the holidays at the end of December will certainly mean more other visitors. Nevertheless, the trail was not crowded at all when we were here December 30, and we met only one other foreign couple, the rest were Thai locals.
In September and October the waterfalls have the best flows due to rainfall. Plus, there will be less tourists then. For the most tranquil experience you may want to avoid the weekends and national holidays. If you visit Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall early in the morning, you may see the early sun rays shining upon the water.
What to wear & bring to Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall
- Comfy light outfit that you can take off easily
- Swimwear and quick dry towel
- Water shoes (the rocks are slippery)
- Airy hiking boots, sneakers and/or sturdy sandals
- Hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, anti-insect repellant
- Bottle of water
- Tissues for toilet (as anywhere in Thailand)
- Cash for lunch and admission fee
Where to stay
Any foreign tourist that may visit Khuean Srinagarindra National Park and Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall, is likely to do that while staying in Kanchanaburi. Kanchanaburi is most famous for the Bridge over River Kwai. Recommendable are accommodation located at the river side. The best options in Kanchanaburi city are:
Good Times Resort is a nice place to have lunch, drinks and diner too, also as a non-hotel guest. Honestly, Kanchanaburi did not steal our hearts. I will explain that further in a future article. Looking back, I would not have mind staying outside of Kanchanaburi city. However, you will need a car then. You may notice that having a rental car is handy in this area anyway. It is easy to drive here.
If you want to stay at a typical so-called floating hotel or resort, I would suggest to have a look at a village called Sai Yok. Sai Yok is located at the River Kwai, close to Hellfire Pass. The best accommodation option there is:
Camping Huay Mae Khamin Waterfalls
As mentioned earlier, there is a camping site at Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall. When we visited December 30 the camping site was full (with Thai people, at 9am), but apparently that is pretty rare. Normally it’s possible to rent a pre-set tent upon arrival. The tents were set up really close to each other. Like a summer festival in Europe. Would not really recommend it, as I am not a happy camper, but each to his own. It is cheap though (THB 150-225 per night).
Map Kanchanaburi area
I hope you like this article and find it useful. I might as well just posted the pictures alone, as they can speak for themselves, can’t they? Are you going to Thailand soon? Doubting between Huay Mae and Erawan? We really loved visiting Huay Mae Khamin Waterfalls and I would highly recommend visiting it. Thailand at its best! What’s the most impressive waterfall that you have ever seen around the world? Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
Another beautiful trail in Thailand is the Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail in the Doi Inthanon NP near Chiang Mai.
Interested to read more about Thailand? Check out the Thailand Blog Archives.
Want to read more about all the waterfalls that I have seen around the world? Check the Waterfall Blog Archives.
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Last Updated on 12/19/2020 by Flitter Fever