Khao Yai National Park

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Khao Yai National Park
tontantravel / CC BY-SA

Khao Yai National Park, no doubt is the most popular and third-largest national park in Thailand and was the first one to be established in 1962. It’s one of the most visited destinations in Asia and home to a big range of exotic animals and plants. Just a 2.5-hour drive from Bangkok and you’re already there at one of the world’s UNESCO Heritage Site. If you’re a nature lover, you would love this place, because personally, nature’s design always amazes me there. It’s a paradise for nature and the main highlights are nature excursions and wildlife.

The national park covers 2,100 kilometers with lush nature, it can be tricky to plan your holiday there. Here’s a shortcut to plan your visit to Khao Yai National Park.

Table of Content:

  1. Top Things to do and see
  2. Best time to visit
  3. Staying in Khao Yai National Park and 3 Day Sample Itinerary
  4. Travel Safety & Tips

TOPS THINGS TO DO AND SEE

The entrance fee: 400 THB Adults, 200 THB Kids

*For expats: present your work permit, you might pay the same fees as locals (40 THB)

NATURE EXCURSIONS

Hiking the trails – This national park is a hiker’s paradise. There are a lot of nature trails, some easy ones that you could do yourself or complicated ones that you need to hire a guide. Some trails lead to some popular waterfalls, like Pha Kluay Mai Waterfall or Haew Suwat Waterfall.

 It’s highly recommended to hike in a small group of (3 – 4 people) if you want to see some of the endangered animals, like the Lar Gibbon.

Hit the hills with two wheels – This is a paradise for cyclists as well. Every morning, especially on the weekends, Thai tourists and locals come to the national park to ride through the mountains. This is also a great way to see more animals on the roads, and you can’t always see them from your car. There are some routes inside the national park that are quite flat, and doable for casual cyclists. I’ve gone cycling around the mountains of Khao Yai National Park, and it was definitely a fun workout if especially for serious cyclists like me.

Camping – When you’re in Khao Yai, camping needs to be in your “Must – Do” list. Imagine you wake up in the morning, and you see a barking deer in front of your tent or the skies are lit up with constellations at night, you can’t even see that in the city. I’ve camped in Khao Yai National Park countless times, and it never failed to disappoint me with these beautiful experiences of what nature can give you. 

Wildlife Spotting – As wildlife being the main attraction. There are watchtowers for you to spot elephants bathing in salt licks. Khao Yai is one of your chances to see wild elephants roaming around, they usually roam at night until dawn. You have to be extremely patient while looking for elephants. 

There are night safari tours to see some unique nocturnal animals like wild elephants, and civets. You ride at the back of the truck for one hour, and a ranger shines a spotlight around the national park.

Bathing at the natural spring – Ban Tha Chang is a very popular natural spring and favored by locals. If you intend to not enter the national park, you can take a dip here, and there are no charges.

CULTURAL IMMERSION

Visit the Buddhist Cave Temple (Wat Tham Sila Thong)– It’s quite well known in Thailand that serious Buddhists practice their ways of life and place Buddha images in caves. Here at this cave, you’ll see Buddha images and people paying respects here. In the evening, you can catch a huge wave of bats flying over the horizon.

Check out the PB Valley Winery – If you’re wondering what Thai tourists love to do, they love to come to the winery fields on the weekends, and passionately love to take photos in them. There are some fine dining places like PB Valley Winery. A lot of Thai tourists favor places that are photogenic and some fine dining. 

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Peak Season – (Mid November – Late January) Peak season in Khao Yai National Park is when the weather is down to 18 degrees Celsius. It’s the time Thai tourists love to travel to Khao Yai National Park, especially during the weekends to spend their holiday there.

Rainy Season- (Early June – Late September) this is the best time to visit when the national park is lush with green trees, and the waterfalls are overflowing with water. The rates in the hotels are lower as well if you don’t want to stay inside the national park. And it’s best to visit during the weekdays to avoid crowds.

Dry Season – (Early March – Late May) it’s too hot and dry to visit. Do avoid.

STAYING IN KHAO YAI AND 3 DAY SAMPLE ITINERARY

In the national park

You can check out www.dnp.co.th to book cabins in advance, and you rent out camping gear at the camping sites or headquarters inside.

Who is it for?

  • Nature lovers

Pro’s

  • Peaceful, and be surrounded with nature
  • Get to see constellations

Cons

  • Far from convenient shops
  • Not for non-nature lovers

Thanarat Road

​Who is it for?

  • Easy to meet people

Pro’s

  • Close to convenience shops

Cons

  • Can get crowded on the weekends

Pak Chong

Who is it for?

  • Prefer to be in the countryside
  • Families

Pro’s

  • Beautiful sceneries
  • Peaceful

Cons

  • Far from convenience

3 Day Sample Itinerary

  • Day 1

Morning- Bathe in natural springs

Afternoon – Buddha Cave

Evening – See Bats flying out of caves

  • Day 2

Morning – Afternoon – Hiking and swimming in waterfalls

Evening – Night Safari

  • Day 3

Morning – Check out PB Valley Winery

Afternoon – Dine at PB Valley Winery   

TRAVEL SAFETY AND TIPS

Currency exchange – There are ATMs and banks around to withdraw your money. Be aware of the fake ATMs, and it’s safer to carry a fair amount of cash.

Don’t feed the animals – It’s a big no-no to feed animals, you can spoil their natural instincts, and they can get aggressive to other people, especially the monkeys. There are many cases where monkeys raid tents and cabins for food.

No driving at night in the national park – There are elephant families roaming on the main roads, and you could scare them. They get overprotective with their group, especially when there’s an elephant calf.

Female Solo Travelers – Traveling in Khao Yai National Park is quite safe for female solo travelers. You just need to be careful with who you are acquainted with.

Travel Insurance, better safe than sorry – Getting good travel insurance can save you lots of issues, in case of injuries, and other issues that may occur. You can never be too careful.