Protected areas > Um Phang
|Um Phang's Thilawsu is
the largest waterfall in Thailand
|The lianas will
eventually become trees themselves
|Cascade on the Thilawsu
Part of the
territory covered by the Um Phang Wildlife Sanctuary is a traditional area
of Karen, Hmong, Lisu, Mien and Lahu tribes. The main town - Um Phang (outside
of the sanctuary) - is predominantly Karen. There are many hill tribes
villages scattered in the countryside surrounding Um Phang town. Um Phang is
accessible by road from Mae Sot through spectacular mountains.
The hot season is from March to May with maximum temperature at 39 C. The rainy season lasts from June to October. Um
receives a lot of rainfall because of the high mountains and the dense
forest. The highest amount of measured rainfall is 300 mm in
July. The cool season is from November to February. The minimum temperature
can be as low as 3 C during December.
Most of the sanctuary is covered by evergreen and deciduous forest which is
interspersed with teak, ironwood, dipterocarps and other. Bamboo and teak
can be found on the banks of the Mae Klong river, orchids, wildflower, and
many species of ferns grow along the many rivers and creeks.
The sanctuary is a home to wild animals such us elephants, leopards, langurs,
bears, tigers, tapirs, deer and others. Many species of butterflies and
birds, including the rare colorful hornbill, can be spotted there.
What to See
The area is home to many waterfall of which Thilawsu (also spelled Ti Lo Su
or Ti Lor Su) is the prime one.
Thilawsu Waterfall - the Black Water Waterfall, the largest waterfall
in Thailand. Its height is about 200 meters and total width 400 meters. It
is most beautiful during rainy season from June to November because of the
larger water flow. However during this period, the road access to the
waterfall is closed for safety reason and trekking is required.It is
accessible by road during the dry season, but only cars with four wheel
drive can pass the steep and slippery road. An alternative way to reach the
waterfall is by whitewater rafting and trekking.
Thilojo Waterfall - the Falling Rain Waterfall. The waterfall is
divided into 2 tiers. The upper falls are located on a high cliff and the
tier is narrow. The lower falls are part of the stream of the Mae Klong
river, falling like rain fall.
Thilole Waterfall - It is a waterfall dropping directly into Klong
river located deep in
Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary with no road access. Only
traveling with tour companies is possible. The journey to the waterfall
typically involves white water rafting along Klong River of about 40 km
through rapids of class 4 or 5. The trip takes 2 or 3 days.
Doi Hua Mot - a view point on a table mountain from which jungle
covered with mist and clouds can be seen in the mornings.
Ta Ko Bi Cave - the cave contains a big chamber with stalagmites and
stalactites. It is possible to climb through the cave to a small temple on
the to of the mountain. In the past the cave was used by the Communist Party
What to Do
Trekking, whitewater rafting, bird watching, elephant riding, visiting Karen
Camp sites are available at the sanctuary's headquarters, 25 km from the
entrance to the park and 1,5 km from the Thilawsu waterfall. The town of Um
Phang (12 km from the entrance to the sanctuary) hosts many homestays, huts
and a camping site.
It is 37 km from the Um Phang town to the headquarters, mostly on a dirt
track. 4WD is necessary year around.
Access to the wildlife sanctuary
Um Phang is a wildlife sanctuary, which is much more strictly protected area
than a national park. Wildlife sanctuaries are designated to allow as free
and undisturbed movement of animals as possible. Therefore they are open
mainly for educational or scientific research or for volunteering. Special
permit is necessary to enter a wildlife sanctuary.