What is Khao Yai National Park ?
Khao Yai (เขาใหญ่) is Thailand’s first national park. Established in 1962, it’s been honored as a Unesco World Heritage site in 2005. The park is around 3 hours of drive from Bangkok and is the third largest National Park in Thailand (2,168 km2).
The National Park is a theater for a wide range of wildlife such as wild elephants, sambar deers, hornbills, crocodiles, or macaques. It’s even possible to spot tigers. The nature is everywhere and you can easily see animals all around the park (you just have to be a little lucky).
How to get to Khao Yai from Bangkok (taxi, van, etc) ?
Getting from Bangkok to Khao Yai can be done pretty easily by drive. Most convenient way is to take a private car or a taxi. You can rent a car in Bangkok at your local renter. A taxi will cost you around 2,500thb up to 3,000thb (one way) depending on the type of car and size. They can pick you up at your condo or hotel and leave you at your hotel in Khao Yai.
You can alternatively take a bus from the Mo Chit station for journey Bangkok to Pak Chong (nearest city to the park). You can expect to get there in around 3 to 4 hours (depending on traffic) and it will cost you 150thb per person (one way).
If you prefer mini-van, you can catch one at the same spot (Mo Chit) as it has moved from Victory Monument. I recommand to go with the big buses (safer).
What to see and do in Kao Yai ?
Spotting wildlife is the number one thing to do in the park. From the central visitor center, you can access different trails depending on what you want to see. Trails are given a number to differenciate them and number 1 and 2 can be accessible alone as they’re pretty well organised and quite easy. The other ones must be done with a guide. You will most likely see elephants along the road while going from one spot to another with your car.
There are many waterfalls (nam tok in thai) that you can spot. The most famous one is Haew Suwat waterfall (east of the park), and has been featured in the movie The Beach (Danny Boyle, 2000).
Entrance price for Khao Yai National Park
Enter the park is pretty expensive for foreigners. It used to be possible for foreigners living / working in Thailand to pay the local price, but it’s not the case any more.
- Adult foreigners : 400thb
- Children foreigners (under 14) : 200thb
- Adult thai : 40thb
- Children thai : 20thb
- Cars fee : 50thb
- Motorcycles fee : 30thb
The price is per person and for each entrance (if you sleep outside the park and want to enter again the next day, you will need to pay again).
What is there around Khao Yai ?
As Khao Yai National Park is driving a lot of visitors (1.2 million in 2016), an economy has risen in Pak Chong, the city nearby. Oddly, they have developped some weird theme villages and shopping centers that seem to be popular.
Palio Khao Yai is a remake of a tuscan village just a few kilometers away from the National Park. It serves a center for shopping and dining, there’s also a 7eleven and a Tops market there if you need some refill.
Cowboy City is a themed space with many shops along the street with an indians vs cowboys american style. As odd as the previous one, you can spot many thai with cherokee traditional clothes. Why not if you’re into it for some additional exotism.
Khao Yai art museum offers to visit the collection of Mr Pongchai Chindasook. An indoor and outdoor museum as many works are also showcased in the garden.
Where to stay in Khao Yai ?
There’s a wide choice of hotels around the National Park. Here’s a selection :
Less than 2,000thb/night : Khao Yai Terrazzo
Less than 4,000thb/night : Lala Mukha Tented resort
It is also possible to sleep inside the park. You can either camp (you can rent tent and material at the camping site). Bungalows and dorms are available within the park. You need to book in advance and check availability here.