Visit Tatton Waterfall @ Chaiyaphum

Tatton National Park holds several wonderful destinations; chief among them is its justly-lauded Tatton Waterfall. Between the rainy season torrents that nearly conceal its impressive rock face and the end of the dry season, when children romp directly under the falls, the character of the waterfall changes dramatically, offering fundamentally different experiences from month to month. The falls are indeed fun for all, from picnickers to casual waders, to photographers of people, water, butterflies and deer. Take a large boisterous Thai family in a small caravan of cars, and enjoy a day-long eating, swimming, hiking, napping, and photography session. Or go with a lover for a romantic jaunt in a setting that seems designed for sharing dreams of the future together. 

The parking lot is a good half-mile below the actual falls, so the wheelchair-bound and those with limited mobility need not go. Food of the tourists-caught-in-a-remote-area-with-none variety is available at unconscionable prices, along with ice cream that will have your younger Thai guests clamoring for treats. Walk swiftly from your car past the ice cream and on to the falls! Excellent changing rooms and bathrooms, along with limited under-cover decking is available at the falls proper, so fret not about hiking on up in street clothes and sturdy shoes. 

Thai families have long practiced the picnic as an art form, so prime spots in the rocks overlooking the face of the Falls will go quickly in the morning, but there are dozens, so do not worry too much, and the falls give a rather melodious sound all over the area even in the dry season, so you’ll hear them even where you cannot see them. For those anxious to reserve a picnic spot with a great view from the rocks, bring a woven grass mat in the morning and set it down with a few rocks to reserve your spot… it will be respected, and then go swimming or hiking or photo-shooting, retreat to your car for the food, and you’re all set. Afternoon napping seems to be well-respected there too, so making a day of it is a rather nice experience.

The water above the falls is shallow, and slow-moving enough in the dry season that small children swim there unfettered. The wading is in soft sand and billowing water-weeds, and very nice. It is here that an abundance of butterflies can be photographed easily on the warm rocks or shrubs. Deer frequent the fields to the east of the river as do Red Jungle Fowl, and are often easily viewed and photographed, even in daylight hours. Teens tend to gather on the large rock formations downstream of the Falls, where vigorous splashing seems to substitute for the American “punch in the arm” as a symbol of romantic attraction. This whole area is ideally suited to Frisbee throwing, but I have never seen one in use there, and repeatedly forget to bring my own. No alcohol is allowed in the National Parks, so keep it to soft drinks in your picnic basket. This makes for a more enjoyable setting anyway, particularly as there is an abundance of teens below the falls on any weekend day. During the week, the occasional school-bus full of children on a field trip will descend on the place, but they usually hike on up for a nature walk after a short time at the Falls. You'll never feel alone or particularly private at the Falls, but the people there tend to be happy and convivial. 

A big part of the experience is the actual drive to the Park from Chaiyaphum proper. The roads are long and forested and winding, with an abundance of sugarcane trucks during those harvest times each year, and vegetable and other produce trucks the rest of the year. Stop along the way and observe collectors of live Ant Larvae as they secure entire nests of the poisonous stinging ants from tree branches on forty-foot bamboo poles along the way. Listen as they warn you to drive on by, lest they drop the nest in the road near enough your car for the ants to overwhelm the vehicle! Then when you return to the markets in Chaiyaphum, Petchabun, Korat or Khon Kaen and see the larvae on sale for dinner (still live, mind you!), you will know the great risk taken to obtain this high-protein “delicacy”! (I had mine thoroughly roasted, thank you!) 

D. W. Grant

Tatton Waterfall is in Tatton National Park which is just outside Chaiyaphum. It is well signposted from the city. Chaiyaphum is 122.5 kilometers or about 1 hour and 40 minutes from Korat via Route 205 and Route 201.

Entry is 200 Baht for Farang and 20 Baht for Thai's.

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