As well as playing in the waterfalls, Thai people also love a play in the river. Nakon Nayok's clean, clear water is perfect for them. The source for Nakon Nayok's rivers is mountain water from Khao Yai National Park. The many tributaries that run out of Khao Yai into Nakon Nayok, join in the foothills to form Nakhon Nayok River. This river later joins up with Prachin Buri River to become Bangpakong River, which flows to the Gulf of Thailand.
The construction of the Khlong Tha Dan Dam means that Nakhon Nayok River now has water all year round. This has been a tremendous boost for Nakhon Nayok's tourist trade as they now have visitors all year round. During the long, hot, dry season, many Bangkokians love to get away from the heat of the city. Every weekend, a small army of hot Thai people head for Nakhon Nayok.
This is one of the many streams that run out of Khao Yai National Park into Nakhon Nayok. In 2005, the construction of the Khlong Tha Dan Dam was completed and this stream was dammed. This meant that the river's flow could be regulated and the water from the rainy season deluge could be stored and then slowly released throughout the dry season. This river therefore has water all year round.
There is an area just downstream from the dam where a bridge crosses the river. This area has become the main base for water play activities in Klong Tha Dan. There are several rustic style restaurants along the river. They have set up tables all along the side of the river with large umbrella canopies to provide shade. The visitors set up base on these tables for the day. The restaurants deliver them food and drink as required and from there they dive into the water to play.
There are traders hiring out lifejackets for the kids and floats such as large inflated tyre inner-tubes for 10-20 baht a day. You can float down the river from the bridge to the steps a few hundred yards downstream. Then climb out and do it again. Every time, you are sure to get plenty of waves and splashes as you pass the Thais sitting on their tables by the river.
From Nakon Nayok town, take route 3049 north towards the foothills of Khao Yai and Nang Rong Waterfall. 12km out of town, the road forks and you need to take the right road towards Nang Rong Waterfall. Drive on for another 6km and you reach the right hand turn signposted towards the dam. Follow this road for 1km and you reach a traffic circle with an Elephant fountain in the center. Turn right here and you quickly reach the bridge. There is ample parking on the right.
This is a park with a river running through it. It is owned by the Chumphot-Phanthip Foundation who have turned it into a botanical garden. There are many large, shady trees and a wide variety of beautiful ornamental plants and flowers. It covers an area of 1,400 Rai (600 acres). There are bungalows and a campsite available inside the park and it is a popular picnic site.
The stream that runs through the park is one of the many tributaries that later join up to form the Nakon Nayok River. It cascades over rocks and under the shady trees. It is another popular water play area. You can rent floats and bob on down the stream.
This stream does not benefit from the water released by the Khlong Tha Dan Dam so it does dry up to a very gentle trickle during the dry season.
Entrance to the park is 50 baht for a car with up to 5 people and 5 baht a person.
From Nakon Nayok town, take route 3049 north towards the foothills of Khao Yai and Nang Rong Waterfall. 12km out of town, the road forks and you need to take the right road towards Nang Rong Waterfall. Drive on for another 4km and you reach the left hand entrance into Wang Takhrai Park.
You can arrange rafting or canoeing trips down Nakon Nayok River from either Wang Takhrai or from the bridge at Klong Tha Dan.
You will follow your tributary and see it merge with a few others to slowly form the Nakon Nayok River. The waterways are quite narrow at some points so larger boats cannot make the journey. There are a few gentle rapids but nothing very scary. There are many twists and turns as the streams meander through the peaceful Nakon Nayok countryside. You can slip off the boat for a swim in the river as you go. It all makes for a very pleasant couple of hours entertainment.
You can rent a kayak to paddle around the local vicinity for 150-baht an hour. It costs more to arrange a trip down the river with a pick up at the other end. A rafting trip for 6 people with a guide and collection at the other end will cost around 1,500 baht.