Along with Dong Phayayen mountain range, Khao Yai is co-recipient of a UNESCO World Heritage Site status, awarded for the forest complex's rich and diverse flora and fauna. As its name suggests, the park is nestled above much of Thailand at an elevated high altitude, allowing the mercury to rest at a pleasant average of mid-twenty degrees celsius. The highest peak at Khao Rom towers above the surrounding landscape at a height of 1,351 meters above sea level. Home to a range of attractions, ranging from wild-west theme parks to wineries.
One of the main natural attractions of the national park is Khao Paeng Ma, which provides an excellent viewpoint for visitors who are happy to traverse the 1.8km hiking trail, which takes in nine unique viewing points and a gaur watch tower. Reaching Khao Paeng Ma trail necessitates a bumpy ride in a four wheel drive car to the start of the trail. Visitors who manage to spot one of the creatures are lucky, as the population is now extremely scarce.
The Lam Prah Ploeng Reservoir is also one of Khao Yai’s most popular natural attractions, and is situated on the way to Khao Paeng Ma from Wang Nam Kheo. The reservoir is surrounded by an emerald green expanse of field, and is a great place to stop for a picnic during a long car journey. Visitors particularly drawn to the water can hire a longtail boat to make the journey upriver to the spectacular Khun Jone and Khlong Ki Waterfalls.
Travel tip: TBC. [link to blog post]
Travel tip: TBC. [link to blog post]
Khao Yai’s Outlet Village is home to over 100 shops that offer an array of local and imported brands, including Lacoste and Esprit, among others. Shoppers can rummage through the goods on offer can often find items for up to 70 percent off the original retail price.
One of the most romantic and scenic restaurants in the region has to be Great Hornbill Grill located at PB Winery. is a stunning venue to indulge in a sumptuous thin crust pizza, accompanied by an exquisite glass of locally produced wine. If you have your heart set on vineyard dining, another choice is VinCotta at GranMonte, where you can enjoy ribs cooked in red wine with pairings from their cellar.
On the Wang Nam Kheo side of Khao Yai National Park Thai cuisine dominates, and delicious freshwater fish dishes feature prominently on the menus there. Visitors that find themselves in the vicinity of the Lam Phra Ploeng Reservoir can stop to eat at Krua Rim Kuen, an open-air restaurant featuring stunning views of the reservoir and a menu that boasts a wide range of Thai dishes made from locally sourced produce. As most travellers make their way to Khao Yai in search of natural beauty and outdoor pursuits, the area does not have a reputation as one Thailand’s “hot” nightlife destinations. The resorts that are peppered across the region offer guests a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy a good meal and quiet drink. For a romantic drink accompanied by spectacular views, head to the Sala Bar in Sala Khao Yai, which features panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and gills. Guests can let their hair down and relax on one of the luxurious daybeds on the resort's alfresco terrace with a glass of wine from one of the vineyards positioned in the national park’s back yard.
For visitors navigating their own way across the park, there is a single road through it which stretches approximately 60 kilometers from the Pak Chong side to the Nakhon Nayok side.
Do heed the 60km/hour speed limit, as many animals (particularly macaques!) are often encountered on the road. Drivers should also be advised that there are limited fuel services in the park, so it is best for them to plan out their journeys accordingly before setting off. One of the highlights of exploring Khao Yai independently is being able to stop off at one of the park’s many lookout positions and snap photographs of the spectacular views.
Travel options to Khao Yai are both convenient and frequent, as Pak Chong is situated between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima. While the southern gate to the parker may appear to be closer to Bangkok, there is no direct expressway to this location, and the park headquarters are very far from the southern entrance. As such, most visitors utilize the Pak Chong area as their transportation base to visit the park. There are also public songtaew's that ply this route for about THB30 (~US$1) for the approximately 40-minute journey. Do note that the park headquarters are still more than 10 kilometers from the northern gate, so from here, ask the park rangers for assistance. Songtaews – opened air public transportation – shuttle passengers along the main Thanarat Raod that leads up to the park entrance.
Truly, your best option for going to Khao Yai is to book an all inclusive 3 day tour. You get picked up at your Bangkok hotel and you can enjoy the services of a great tour guide with a great itinerary.
The route terminates in Nakhon Ratchassima/Korat, so passengers for Khao Yai should make sure they get off at the correct stop in Pak Chong. Upon arrival in Pak Chong, songtaews (pickup trucks with covered seating in the back) run every half hour from the bus terminal to the park entrance.
Visitors making their way to Khao Yai by car should make their way north in the direction of Saraburi/ Nakhon Ratchassima on the Phahon Yothin Road, the expressway that runs past Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport. Before reaching Ayutthaya, drivers should head north east towards Saraburi.
For travellers beginning their journey from Eastern Bangkok (near Suvarnabhumi International Airport), the outer ring road to Phatum Thani will lead to the Mittraphap Road leading towards Saraburi.
From Saraburi, follow the road towards Nakhon Ratchasima. When you reach Packchong district, turn off down Thanarat Road and off to the park you go.
As there are no English signs, it is best to ask any of the van drivers where to purchase your ticket. A selection of travel agencies in the Khao San Road area of Bangkok organise daily minivans to Pak Chong. Alternatively, some travellers choose to charter their own minivan or taxi from Bangkok.