Bang Pae waterfall & The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project, Khao Phra Thaeo National park, Phuket
Bang Pae waterfall is in North-east Phuket, nestled amongst the gorgeous green national park.
Around an hour drive from the most Southern parts of the island & the same from the West.
Bang Pae is Phuket’s largest waterfall, but if you are a regular fall spotter, it’s not going to blow you away for its size.
Set amongst beautiful lush tropical greens & steep rocks, its natural beauty shines through none the less.
As you enter the park grounds, a small fee of 200Baht is paid, plus 20 baht for parking a moped or car. This is usual practice for National parks in Thailand, it but covers maintenance & basic staffing costs. It’s a small price to pay for such stunning natural beauty.
Lush greenery surrounds you, trees are taller than the eyes can see without tilting the head way back, looking up to the sky!
After spending time in a local city, accessing the National Park is somewhat breath taking.
The sheer height & density of the woodland is a real treat.
The Gibbon rehabilitation project
After a short walk through the park, The Gibbon rehabilitation project appears to the right of the path,
it’s easy to miss so keep your eyes peeled for the signage!
This project is small in terms of what there is to see, but huge in terms of the good it does for the gibbons!
There is a counter with volunteer staff who tell you all about the project & take donations, as well as a gift shop with all sorts of cute souvenirs to buy. From postcards with individual gibbons, to keyrings & soft toys, the usual!
All proceeds go to the project!
At the back of the shop area you’ll find some wooden steps, these lead to where the gibbons are living!
Swinging about in their natural habitat, making noises & getting curious about you!
There are plaques on the walls, one for every gibbon that has ever been rescued by the project!
So you can read up on the gibbons you are watching, as well as those who have successfully been rehabilitated into the wild! The surrounding national park!
It is insightful to read the individual stories of the animals, past & present.
The gibbons have various backgrounds, many of them are rescued from tourism abuse, having suffered cruel & unnatural conditions, being taught to perform & do things on demand to avoid punishments.
The project does its best to rehabilitate gibbons back into the wild, often mating or pairing the gibbons to create a partnership that can then safely go out in the national park as a family!
But sometimes, the extent of the abuse & the life the gibbon has led up until that point, has left lasting effect & it’s just not possible or safe for them to be released to fend for themselves.
Those gibbons will live the rest of their lives as comfortable as possible, in captivity but on the grounds, swinging around in a natural environment!
Some gibbons come to the centre having spent a life as a pet! Once the owners realise that gibbons are not pet material, they are handed in to be rehabilitated.
Again, that’s not always possible, after spending the first few months or years of their life with daily human contact, old habits die hard.
One Gibbon would continuously return to the project centre gates after being released, she craved human contact so much that she didn’t favour freedom.
The Gibbon Rehabilitations project is a great place to visit & donate to see & support the side of animal tourism that is working FOR the animals. Opening hours are 9.00-4.30. Donations can also be made online.
After seeing the gibbons, continue up the track & you’ll soon come across the sign for Bang Pae waterfall.
Depending on the time of year, it can be a popular spot for locals, often families will; be having a day out at the fall, dotted along the water’s edge with picnics & everything they want for a family day out!
The base of the fall will lead you further & further upstream, a good 10-15 minute walk on a muddy path with steep & slippy edges! Watch your footing!
There are some hand railings but not always, it’s a tough climb.
To the left is the waterfall, all the way up, getting higher & closer to the peak of the fall the further you go. The sound of trickling water is just blissful the whole way.
When you get to the top, you can slip off excess clothing & take a dip! The water can be almost chest height on some people, a refreshing dip after a little hike is most welcomed by most.
A deeper drop pool spot for the cliff jumpers is directly under the fall drop, for the adrenaline rush seekers, it’s an awesome find, but watch the locals who are masters at their game before choosing into something that is potentially very dangerous!
Spend some time in the water, taking in mother nature, her sweet sounds & cool water holds a space for you for as long as you wish!
Just like the locals do, take some food & make a day of it, dipping in & out of the fall to cool off!
With lots of spots to set up base along the route of the fall, you’ll be spoilt for choice!
A dry bag is advised for your valuables, especially if you are doing it alone!
At the bottom of the fall, there is a designated picnic & barbeque area too. So, if you really want to go to town, bring supplies & cook up a feast!
Other basic facilities are available to make your visit more comfortable, like toilets & a little shop with basic supplies of drinks & a few snacks. A restaurant near the car park (& plenty surrounding too).
Hiking in Phuket
Being a national park, the surrounding areas are fantastic for hiking too, so a visit to Bang Pae waterfall could be planed into a hike route, or chosen as a start/finish point. A perfect treat to follow a hike!
There is a second waterfall in the area, Ton Sai, it’s around a 20-minute drive away, but could be planned into a hike!
Be sure to pack good bug repellent, the jungles are dense & the mosquitos are plentiful!