Videos of tourists and their guides at a waterfall that is off limits to the general public in a national park in Thailand have gone viral and angered officials.
Videos showing the Pong Ping Waterfall inside a restricted area in Khao Laem National Park in Kanchanaburi province went viral as they showed directions and details about how to get inside the no-go area of the park.
There were many video clips on YouTube showing directions from pick-up areas to the waterfall. There are also blogs online about the Pong Ping Waterfall that give details about where to hire a guide in nearby Kong Mong Ta village.
However, according to Taywin Meesub, the head of Khao Laem National Park in Kanchanaburi, villagers from Kong Mong Ta village had broken the law by taking tourists to the area and officials had arrested more than 20 people.
He added that although officials had assigned national park inspectors to keep people away from restricted areas, many tour groups used different routes to avoid the inspectors. It’s a tough and difficult trek to the waterfall involving boats and rugged terrain.
It was reported that Kong Mong Ta villagers asked tourists to pay 1,000-2,000 baht per person for groups of five to six. Many people commented online that it was not only the restricted Pong Ping Waterfall that attracted tourists, but also other national parks around Thailand.
Charlie Waradee, a hiker, claimed many tour groups went into restricted areas and did not cooperate with national park officers, and many took their directions from social media.
He said tourists should not go to restricted areas because park rangers would not know their exact location, causing difficulties during any emergencies.
Illegally entering a restricted area can bring a fine of 500 to 1,000 baht. The entrance fee to national parks in Thailand is different for foreigners and locals – for Thais it is 10 baht for children and 20 baht for adults. For foreigners it is 100 baht for children and 200 baht for adults.