Wat Khao Waterfall (น้ำตกวัดเขา)
I thought we had visited all the waterfalls in the Phuket area (including north of Phuket in Phang Nga province), but I was wrong! After so many years of living here, there have been many changes. Tourist attractions, restaurants come and go, but nature will (hopefully) always be there. To the north of Phuket island, on the way to Khao Lak, there are a couple of very nice waterfalls - Ton Prai and Lampi. And there's another, much closer to Phuket, only about 10 kilometers after the Sarasin bridge, and just north of the town of Khok Kloi. I had seen the roadsign many times, but for some reason we never went to check out Wat Khao Waterfall until a couple of weeks ago. We were always on the way somewhere else, or heading home, so Wat Khao remained unvisited. Also, I had never seen anything about it online, and nobody had ever told me they had been until recently, we bumped into a friend while at Samed Nangshe viewpoint in Phang Nga, and he told me he'd just been to Wat Khao Waterfall, so it was in the back of my mind as we drove home from a long weekend in Chumphon a few weeks ago and saw the sign. It was 5pm and we were an hour from our house, but thought "let's have a look!"
This occasional tendency of ours to randomly detour does lead to some great finds sometimes! There is a lot to see here, but you do need to get out and explore! The side road to Wat Khao Waterfall is only about 1.5 km long, passing a temple on the way, followed by a side road heading uphill to a restaurant called "Nern Khao View Talay". Passing this, you get to the waterfall, with a fair amount of parking space. Our first visit was a quick one, as the hour was already late. We had a quick look at the waterfall. "Nice", we thought. And then since we discovered a restaurant right there near the waterfall, we decided to have a nibble. The food was decent, the beer was cold and we decided to return the next weekend.
(above) Wat Khao Waterfall. On our first visit it was very quiet (after 5pm). Nobody swimming. But it was a rather grey, drizzly day.
Actually, I took another photo on that visit. A sign listing "waterfall rules" had an English translation that must have come from Google Translate or something similar. Thai is very hard to translate automatically! I posted this sign on Twitter and it went slightly viral, ending up with well over 100 retweets! (see below) :
Someone's been using Google translate. This sign was at Wat Khao waterfall just north of Phuket. pic.twitter.com/UXV0cjzSJV— Jamie in Phuket (@jamiemonk) August 15, 2016
So we visited again the very next week, heading up there in time for lunch on a Sunday. And it was a sunny day too. Naturally we expected things to be a little busier. This waterfall seems to have very little promotion online, but nevertheless, the parking area was quite full when we arrived just after midday. Oh, this place seems maybe more popular than we thought! The little restaurant just by the parking area is called Krua Klangdong (ครัวกลางดง). It only has maybe 10 tables and it was all full, but we got lucky as one table was just leaving. The tables are all under grass roofs, not all packed in together. The waitress told us that during the week they are open, but quiet. Then the weekends are crazy!
(above) Krua Klangdong restaurant at Wat Khao Waterfall.
As we'd managed to snag a table, we told the kids to hold off on the swimming until after lunch. The staff at the restaurant were friendly, a bit hurried though! But our food came pretty fast (I mean, they don't have that many tables). Kids had simple things like fried chicken with garlic, while my wife and I ordered some more interesting dishes. The menu had some rather odd translations, just like the sign above! You cold get things like "Mushroom bloody drown", "Egg salad bully", or "Hnnoaamgngm fried shrimp". We ordered quite a few different dishes :
(above) Yam Gung Siap - crispy dried shrimp salad
(above) Nam Prik Gung Siap - shrimp paste with crispy shrimp, served with veggies
(above) Fried morning glory
All good food, I think we'll visit again. Not a huge drive, about an hour from our house. The waterfall is right there behind the restaurant. The kids ate faster than us, and then ran off to jump in the water. Even in low season, and we'd had plenty of rain, this waterfall is not too big. There are pools to sit in and splash about. And there were plenty of families and kids there on that Sunday.
(above) Another view of the restaurant.
A path headed uphill on the left side of the waterfall, and I hiked up quite a long way, but couldn't see any great views, plus the path turned from good to overgrown .. I don't think many people walk up here. My wife and I did not jump in the water, just let the kids splash around for a while before heading home.
(above) Playing and cooling off in the water at Wat Khao Waterfall.
So on the way out from the waterfall, we decided to take the steep road up to the other restaurant - Nern Khao View Talay. I thought it would maybe be rather a fancy place, and indeed it was very well presented, looks like it's not been there too long. We had a look at the menu and ordered a drink. Prices a little more than Klangdong by the waterfall, but the view was very pleasant, you can just about see the sea from there (see photo below).
(Update) We have been back to Nern Khao View Talay a couple of times to eat. Very nice! Always something new to try, either because it's new, or because we just haven't found it yet. Wat Khao Waterfall can be fitted in with a tour in the area, maybe visiting several waterfalls, or on the way to Khao Lak or combined with Samed Nangshe Viewpoint or just a quick trip for lunch. Nice to have a couple of restaurants there. Keep on exploring!
Wat Khao Waterfall - Location Map