There are several locations in Pha Taem National Park that claim to be the Eastern most cliff in Thailand and many Thai tourists travel there to see the sunrise but none of them are the real Eastern most cliff. The real location is at 15°39’26.30″N, 105°37’30.06″E and I haven’t seen any pictures from there online or on Google Earth so I decided to take a couple visiting friends on a hike to try and reach this cliff in October. I’d been to Chanadai Cliff (ผาชะนะได) before on a previous trip but hiking North into an undeveloped area took a little more preparation.
I started first by checking the land mine maps the Thai military has available online to make sure the area was clear. There have been villages in the area interviewed but no reports of injuries. Pha Taem park staff also confirmed that there are no land mines so I felt comfortable exploring an undeveloped part of the park. Their only warning was “rocks are slippery in rainy season.” According to a park map at Chanadai Cliff there is a hiking route but like most trails in Thailand, it’s almost completely unmarked. I knew I wouldn’t have a cell phone signal so using the MotionX GPS app on my iPhone and an external battery charger, I was able to use downloaded satellite imagery of the area. I marked what I thought was a good route on Google Earth, loaded it to my phone and off we went. Leaving the city of Ubon it takes about 3 1/2 hours just to get to the beginning of the hike. We left at 4am to beat the afternoon heat and since none of us are experienced campers, we decided to make it a 1 day trip.
Before we left I checked the weather radar and since it had rained most of the previous week and there was nothing on radar, I felt like we were going to have a good day. There was light cloud cover but it ended up being a perfect day for staying cool. If you attempt this trip I recommend using a 4WD vehicle. Last dry season I made it to Chanadai Cliff with a 2WD truck without any issues but never would have made it this rainy season with some of the slippery rock inclines. You should also bring a saw with you in case you find a tree over the road that park rangers haven’t cleared yet. You’ll know you’ve arrived at the “trail head” when you see a sign for Gam Ban Cliff ผากำปั่น. It’s 4 kilometers before you get to Chanadai Cliff on the left hand side.
There actually is a trail for about the first 400 meters and then you’re left to guessing or using your GPS. The terrain is nothing like anything I’ve hiked in Thailand. It was almost as if water was springing out of every crack in the earth. The hike is a mix of rock, grass areas and climbing through forest. It’s not too difficult but does take a fair bit of effort.
If you’re observant there is plenty of wildlife to be seen such as birds, lizards, buffalo, and insects. If you’re in a hurry to reach a cliff, you’ll likely miss much of it like we did but one of my companions did manage to snap some great pictures of birds. The wildflowers were just starting to come out so I’m sure November and December are even more beautiful.
There are two waterfalls and a cave marked on a park map somewhere around here but we couldn’t find them. We did find several small waterfalls but I’m not certain if they are the 2 listed on a map for this area or not, Kwang Ton Waterfall นำ้ตกกวางโตน and Soi Waterfall นำ้ตกซ้อย.
Finally after about 3 hours of hiking we made it to the Eastern most cliff in Thailand.
Below is some brief video and more pictures from the trip and a map of the area. The Google Map is not displaying very well so if you want to view the more complete Google Earth file you can download it here. If you have any question about the area or how to get there you’re welcome to email me.
View Eastern Most Cliff in Thailand in a larger map