Introduction to Khao Yai National Park
Just a 3-hour drive from the country’s capital – Bangkok, Khao Yai has seen a rise in visitor numbers in the past few years. With increasing social media coverage on Khao Yai’s different sightseeing spots, more travellers are heading up to Khao Yai for a short escape from the cities.
Khao Yai National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site, was established in 1962 as Thailand’s first ever national park. Out of 127 national parks in Thailand, Khao Yai National park is ranked No. 3 in terms of size. It spans across three different provinces with a total area of 2,168km², bigger than Bangkok which has an area of 1,569 km².
Khao Yai National Park with its diverse range of outdoor activities sees both tourists and locals alike heading into its gates. The park has cooling weather year-round, travellers are advised to bring sufficient clothes to ensure that they are well covered up from the cold, especially during the rainy season where the temperature may fall even further.
Khao Yai National Park is the assembly point for all kinds of nature and wildlife lovers. Here, you can discover over 800 different species, some of them categorised as endangered animals. Out of the 800 animal species, there are approximately 250 kinds of birds in the national park. There have been reported sightings of the following animals within the park- elephant, crocodile, deer, black bear, various bird species and many more.
Spotting of wildlife animals depends on the traveller’s luck as well as being able to spot them well. Hiring a guide will increase the chance of spotting any animals. Guides tend to be more knowledgeable when it comes to common wildlife sighting spots in the area.
Another method of wildlife observation in the national park is through the daily night safari tours. Accompanied by the guide/rangers, travellers will be moving around in the back of a truck. Rangers will make use of searchlights to look for nocturnal animals wandering around the trail. While wildlife watching during the day and night may seem similar to some, night time is slightly different. Travellers have to rely solely on their hearing as they keep a lookout for any passing wildlife. The occasional sounds echoing throughout the park will prove to be an eerie yet memorable experience.
In the park, there is more than 35 km of hiking trails available. Travellers may be keen on trying out all the trails, but according to park regulations, certain trails require an accompanying guide. For more information on the trails, refer to the map below –
Travellers are reminded to bring their leech socks to prevent/minimise any leech attacks. For travellers who do not possess any, the visitor centre within the park does sell them. So better to visit the visitor centre to get them before starting any hikes. Additionally, Thailand has its fair share of mosquito all year round, so bring along some mosquito repellent would be helpful to avoid getting bitten.
For many park visitors, the waterfalls are the main highlight of their trip, most of which are accessible to the public. Haew Suwat Waterfall is one of the more well-known spots to visit.
It was made famous by the movie “The Beach”, was starred by Hollywood actor Leonardo Di Caprio. Check out the scene –
Don’t be too tempted to make the same stunt as the movie. Recently, there have been reports of a crocodile sighting in the pool. Unless you are keen on being a crocodile’s playmate, our advice is to enjoy the view from the top of Haew Suwat Waterfall.
Another must-see waterfall is the majestic Haew Narok Waterfall. With a height of 150m, it is the biggest waterfall in Khao Yai.
River rafting in Khao Yai National Park is suitable for novices to experienced rafters. Lam Tak Hong river is ideal for beginners who would like to try out rafting. For the more experienced rafters and adventurous novices, Sai Yai and Kaeng Hin Phoeng rapids (Class 4 & 5) may prove to be a challenge. The river course features rafting through a multi-level river with 6 different rapids.
If you choose to stay overnight within the park, there are different options available. The first option is to rent a tent and camp out under the open sky in 1 of two designated camping sites within the park. Both campsites are equipped with the necessary facilities such as toilets and showers.
Another option which offers a solid roof over your head is the lodge. It is perfect for large groups of travellers, housing 6 – 28 people. While for a more private place to stay, bungalows are available at a higher price with more luxurious amenities such as fans and private twin-share rooms.
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