The park preserves some of Thailand's finest shoreline habitat, as well as sprawling marshes teeming with waterfowl. More than 200 bird species are regularly sighted, including egrets, kingfishers, herons and raptors. Spelunkers flock to this nearly 10,000-hectare park, which features several easily-explored caverns. At the mouth of the largest stands a four-gable, roofed pavilion that dates to the 19th century.
Birds are only the most prominent creatures nesting in this preserve. Native species include monitor lizards, mongooses, barking deer and goat antelope. Dolphins are sometimes spotted along the rugged coast, and there have been sightings of rare species like the small leopard cat, colorful purple heron and several types of eagles (white-bellied, spotted and imperial). One species surprisingly not seen in great numbers, though, is the human one. Only a few thousand visitors drop into the park in an average month, leaving much of Khao Sam Roi Yot in a state of splendid wilderness.
Hotels and travel agents in Hua Hin and nearby Pranburi arrange tours to the park, and local operators offer kayak rental and boat trips. The park station is a good place to start an outing. A rugged trail climbs up craggy Khao Daeng hill to a lofty lookout. It's only half a kilometer, but nearly vertical the entire way. What a view, though: glittering shrimp ponds and lush, green fields skirt conical peaks all the way to the coast. The total seems fewer than 300, but as Khao Sam Roi Yot is such a pleasant break from Bangkok, who's counting?