Nam Tok Sai Yok Noi in Kanchanaburi

If you have time during a visit to the Bridge over the River Kwai, take the train from the bridge to the last station to get to the Sai Yok Noi waterfall. Nam Tok station is the end of the infamous “Death Railway” that linked Thailand and Burma in World War II. The station offers easy access to Sai Yok Noi waterfall, which is only 2 km away. On the way you’ll experience travel by train through Thailand’s countryside.  You can stop at other well-known sightseeing locations that are easily accessible via rail as well. At one point the train goes along a mountain and curves sharply so that people at the front of the train can see those in the back of the train. The train travels slowly but it’s a change of pace from the normal automobile transportation.

Nam Tok Sai Yok Noi means “small waterfall.” Nam Tok Sai Yok Noi is a great stop on the way to Sangkhla and the Three Pagodas Pass or on a daytrip other sights in Kanchanburi. There is a classic Thai song that speaks of the beauty of the Sai Yok Falls. The Sai Yok waterfalls, Yai and Noi, are in Sai Yok National Park. There is an admission fee to get into National Park, but I’ve never seen a ranger booth at Nam Tok Sai Yok Noi. I’ve visited twice with foreigners and never paid, so it doesn’t appear that the fee is collected there. If you are going by car, the Nam Tok Sai Yok Noi falls are 77 km from Kanchanaburi on Highway 323 en-route to Sangkhla and the Thai-Burmese border. 

A special feature of Nam Tok Sai Yok Noi is the way the way rolls slowly down the limestone. You’ll see people walking in the waterfall with water splash around their feet. The sign doesn’t specify that you can’t “walk” on the waterfall. At first I was hesitant and afraid of slipping on the rocks, but I found that it was very easy to walk on the rocks. The footing was actually good, just don’t step on green algae that grows in some spots. It’s a thrilling sensation to be walking all over this lovely waterfall. There’s a small cave near the top of the falls where you can see some stalagtite and stalagmite formation if you don’t mind getting wet. Children often swim in the bottom of the falls wearing inner tubes.

The best time to visit is in the rainy season when there is plenty of water and the falls are at their most glomorous. However, even in the dry season there is enough water to splash around in and cool you off in the hottest time of the year. The first time I visited Nam Tok Sai Yok Noi was in November and the falls were packed with Thai visitors. The water filled the lower portion of the falls as well and it was hard to walk anywhere without wading in water. I recently visited in May and the main falls were still there, but the lower portion was dried up. It was a great end to a day in Kanchanaburi and everyone left a little wet.

Across the street from the falls are a row of vendors. There’s even a 7-11 for refreshments. Mostly of the stores are selling banana chips. The vendors will let you taste the different flavors of banana chips. We grabbed a few bags and munched on them while we drove back to Bangkok.