The peak of Ramkhamhaeng National Park – Suhkothai, Thailand

If you want to do some real hiking then this is the one for you! This is not for the average backpacker. This hike is very hard and daunting. A good willpower is needed to complete this hike. Most of the people in our group had very limited hiking experience, but they had a great willpower to make it to the top. 8 out of 9 people made it to the top and 1 made it to the viewpoint halfway up. It’s a very steep hike and I am proud of everyone in this group. It was an amazing day.

We all wake up early to do the hike. We are leaving by taxi at 7 am. Right at sunrise. We enjoy the morning sunrise in the back of the taxi. The views are gorgeous. It’s still cold outside. The taxi has an open back. The wind hits us. It’s colder than expected. Sunrise is my favorite part of the day. The cold breeze in the morning and the calmness. There’s not much noise and the sun is starting to heat up the planet. You can feel the warmth when the sun hits you, but the surrounding is still cold. It’s a very unique time of the day.

When the taxi swerves away from the main road into the mountain road, the views are starting to get beautiful. We are enjoying the sunrise. It’s just gorgeous. Everyone’s is having an uplifting mood. We are going to do something amazing today.

When we get closer to the mountain, we can finally see it. It’s really high! I don’t think anyone is prepared for this. Are we really going to climb all the way up there?! This is insane!

These thoughts have hit me many times as I have hiked up many mountaintops before. I know this feeling. It always looks impossible until you are standing there on the top! And when you are back down and look back at the mountaintop all you can think is. Did we really go all the way up there? So don’t be scared of this feeling. It is absolutely normal. You will make it, you just have to keep going.

The start of the hike

The drive was a bit less than 1 hour. We make it at the entrance of the national park. We have to pay entrance fee. The price is 200 baht for foreigners. Locals have to pay 30 baht. The taxi was 300 baht per person and is going to wait for us and bring us back. So the total price is 500 baht + food.

Never forget to bring water and food to a hike. You will need it. Unfortunately I made a bet with my friend in Lampang to stop eating added sugars. So no sugar, condensed milk, chocolate, cookies, biscuits, chips, etc. So anything you would take with you on a hike for quick sugars, I cannot have it. I can only have natural sugars. So I made some sandwiches with cheese and veggies and I brought bananas.

The hike starts at the Ranger park. We get greeted by the rangers. They show us the map of the park. We have to sign in too, so they know who is in the park at what day.

The base camp is 3.7km away. But that’s not the hard part. When going to the top of a mountain, the distance doesn’t matter. It’s the altitude that matters. The highest peak has an altitude of 1,244 meter. You start at 199m above sea level. So the total climb is over 1,000m!

The Khao Luang Trek

It’s time to start the trail. A ranger shows us the way to hiking trail. There are bamboo sticks here to be used as walking sticks. We all grab one and start our hike.

The hike starts easy. But this doesn’t last long. Very soon we get greeted by the steep climb. And it gets really hard. The climb doesn’t stop at all. It’s very steep and never flat. Along the way up are some resting points. It’s bamboo platforms and they also have water to refill your bottles.

At this point I depart from the group. They make too many resting stops. I cannot stop. Every time I stop it just gets harder and harder to get going again. There’s this mental state I need to pass first to continue going and keep pushing through my limit. Every time I stop for a rest I need to get to that point again and it’s very hard.

I hike up, without stopping, all the way to the viewpoint. In terms of altitude, this is halfway. Here I relax and wait for the others. This hike was very difficult and hard. But we’re only halfway. The others show up here as well. The group is very diverse and we all have a different hiking pace.

For the rest of the hike. I stick around with the group. There are 3 people behind. So we are with 6 going to top and sticking together for the most part. But the second part did not get any easier. It’s still a really hard climb.

On the way up, we meet Thai people going down. We all just say hi to each other. I keep wondering how early they must’ve started this hike when they are already going down. Eventually there’s someone who talks very good English. She tells us that they spent the night at the top. You can rent a tent at the peak and spend the night there.

There are 4 mountaintops with great views and there’s a whole hike around. It’s relatively flat compared to the way to the top. But you can stay there for sunset. The sunset view is apparently really amazing. There’s also a viewpoint sunrise and the hike goes around the multiple peaks. It sounds so gorgeous and I’m starting to think to spend the night at the top too and watch the sunset and sunrise.

We continue going up. There are people going down carrying a lot of stuff. I think you can pay someone to carry your stuff up and down the mountain. It’s really impressive to see. We have a hard time going up and they carry all this stuff to the top every single day! It also makes me feel bad for them. They probably don’t get paid well an are stuck in the position they are in. They don’t know any better. How much stuff do you really need for 1 night at the top?

The Base Camp

We continue hiking up. It’s really hard. There are a few stops along the way. There’s a big tree, the water source and a cave. I didn’t find these spots very interesting. Except for the water source tho. The water is very cold and welcoming on this hot day.

But after all those stops it’s time for the final stretch to the top! And boy is this hard. As if the whole trail wasn’t bad enough, the final stretch is so hard!

But then eureka! We make it to the top! With the top I mean the base camp. This is where all the other’s spent their night. This is the point where we celebrate! Big high fives to everyone!

There’s a small shop here. We get a cup of noodles and a drink and wait for the other’s to arrive. We waited a long time and when someone made it to the top we all start cheering! Eventually 8 out of 9 people made it to the top. 1 of us made it to the viewpoint and then went back. Which is really impressive, she’s a lot older than us and a lot less fit. I’m very proud of everyone and myself.

The Pha Na Rai Peak

When everyone arrived and had some rest, we still have to make it to the peak. We go to the first peak. It’s only 400m away. This is peanuts compared to the hike we just did. It’s also not as steep anymore.

When we made it to the top everyone just starts cheering. The view is just so amazing. It’s so worth it to me! We joke around. We cannot hide our happiness. We take a group picture at the peak.

Here’s a picture of me standing at the peak. It’s just so amazing.

We all spend a lot of time at the peak. In the beginning we are more loud and having fun.

Then it calms down. Everything gets calm. We hear some birds, the wind hits us. The view is just perfect. Everyone gets relaxed. We sit down and just enjoy the moment.

Going down

And then we still have to go back down. I feel very satisfied after this peak. I would love to check one more out before going down. But most of us are too tired. Also the taxi is waiting for us downstairs.

I’m very satisfied at this moment, I don’t feel the need to spend the night here. I’m also not prepared enough. I didn’t bring enough food and I’m not planning to survive on those instant noodles till tomorrow. If I were to come back, I would spend the night here.

Going down is a lot faster than going up. But it is very hard too. The road has a lot of dust. It has a lot of slippery parts. It’s important to wear good shoes with good grip.

At the bottom we meet with the person who made it half way. She had a great time. She went slowly and more quiet. She saw a snake on the trail and more wildlife than us. She enjoyed the viewpoint, went down and had a great nap. We are very proud of her performance!

Then it’s time to head back to the hostel. Everyone is dead tired and hungry. I need a big plate of food and a passage after this!

Here’s everyone in the taxi going back. There’s already someone sleeping!

My recommendation

This hike is very hard. If you have no hiking experience, this will be very daunting. Pack a lot of willpower to make it to the top! Or bring someone who can keep your mood up. We all exceeded our limits and it was very possible for us to make it. I am sure that you will make it too. If you have been to a mountain peek before, then don’t be scared of this one. You will make it.

My recommendation:

  • Good hiking shoes with good grip
  • Spend the night at the top
  • Come early
  • Enough food for the day and the next morning
  • Enjoy the views

I found a really good blogpost about this hike. You can find it here: http://thewanderingwesterner.com/sukhothai-hiking/

An amazing day

This day was absolutely amazing. I want to thank everyone who joined us and made this day so much fun! Everyone had amazing willpower to make it to the top. We made a lot of jokes and had fun.

I want to thank Luca for starting this idea of the hike and the hostel for helping to organize everything. A lot of these pictures are made by Luca. You can follow his Instagram here: instagram.com/joosluca.

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