Than Sadet is a designated National Park on the Island of Koh Phangan covering an area of over 65 square kilometres. The park is free to visit although visitors wishing to drive down to the beach must park at a checkpoint and sign in.
About Than Sadet
The best known feature of the park is the 2.5 km stretch of stream with lots and lots of small waterfalls. For the adventurous traveller with time to spare you could start at the top of the series of waterfall from Wat Thong Nang near the King Rama V Memorial Statue near the roundabout at the start of the newly built concrete road down to Than Sadet Beach. There is a narrow path to the spartan Wat Thong Nang temple before the statue and if you walk to the far end of the large rock upon which the Ordination Hall is built there are steps down down to the stream and one of the first of the waterfalls.
Lower waterfall at Than Sadet
If you don’t plan to walk the entire length of the stream, which is step and dangerous to negotiate in places, then you can drive down the road which runs parallel to the stream stopping off at the small parking spaces along the way with steps down to some of the more impressive and accessible of the many falls.
Another waterfall at Than Sadet
At the very bottom of the road near to the checkpoint and car parking area where the stream flows into the sea there is wide set of falls which are impressive during the rainy season and the month or two after (January to February). If you want to swim in the pool then the best ones are further up from the most visited and widest falls at the bottom of the stream.
Royal Connection to Than Sadet
Than Sadet means ‘Royal River’ in the Royal dialect of Thai. The river and national park has been associated with the Thai Royal family since King Rama V (one of the most influential and revered modern day kings of Thailand) first visited Tha Sadet waterfall in 1888. King Rama V is believed to have visited 14 times in total over his lifetime.
King Rama V signature at Than Sadet
Since Rama V visited other kings of Thailand, included the last King of Thailand Rama IX, have also visited. King Rama V left a number of inscriptions on rocks around the bottom waterfall, and othe kings who visited did the same. If you look around the area near the bottom of the waterfall you find these marking signposted with descriptions of what they are in Thai and in English.
Than Sadet Beach
Than Sadet also has a wonderful small beach, great for swimming with bars, restaurants and some small guesthouses. This is a popular place to stay and not as remote and difficult to reach as it once was with the recent construction of a concrete road. There is no mobile telephone signal on Than Sadet Beach, although Mai Ren Rai Bungalows (probably the first hotel or guesthouse to open on Koh Phangan) has an internet connection.
Than Sadet Beach
Recently the existence of the small restaurant and bungalow operations on Than Sadet Beach have been come into question because of a dispute between the Thai Government and the local residents over the status of the land upon which they live. The Thai Government’s position is that the whole area, including the beach, is a designated national park and therefore the people living there have no right to use the land. The position of many of the local residents is that they were living in the area before it was designated as a national park and they therefore have a legal right to stay. For the moment the future for Than Sadet’s small local community is uncertain whilst the issue is considered by the Thai Courts.
Travel to Than Sadet
There are two public transport options for travel to Than Sadet beach:
The Thong Nai Pan Express, which is small boat service departing from Thong Nai Pan beach every day at 09:00 travelling to Koh Samui via Than Sadet and Haad Rin. It travels back from Koh Samui to Thong Nai Pan on the same route in reverse at 12:00 everyday, weather permitting.
Shared taxi services from Thong Sala Ferry pier will drop passengers off at Than Sadet on the way to Thong Nai Pan. Expect to pay 300 THB per person for a seat in a shared taxi from the ferry port to Than Sadet beach.
The cheapest way to travel from Bangkok to Koh Phangan is to take a joint bus and ferry service direct to the island. The next cheapest option is take an overnight train to Surat Thani and then a joint bus and ferry service from the train station to Koh Phangan. The cheapest option after that is to fly from Bangkok to Surat Thani and take a joint bus and ferry service from Surat Thani Airport to Koh Phangan. The most expensive, and quickest, way to travel from Bangkok to Koh Phangan is to fly from Bangkok to Koh Samui and then take a ferry to Koh Phangan.