Khao Yai National park อุทยานแห่งชาติเขาใหญ่ is one of the popular destinations among Thai people for a short getaway including myself. It is just 3 hours drive by car from bustling Bangkok to a pristine rainforest, home to a huge array of interesting wildlife.
Khao Yai established in 1962, was Thailand’s first national park covering 2,168 square kilometers including evergreen forests and grasslands. The park lies largely in Nakhon Ratchasima province but also includes part of Saraburi, Nakhon nayok and Prachin Buri provinces.
In 1984 the park was made an ASEAN Heritage Park, and on July 14, 2005 Khao Yai National park together with Tublan National Park อุทยานแห่งชาติทับลาน, Pang Sida National Park อุทยานแห่งชาติปาง สีดา ,Ta Phraya National Park อุทยานแห่งชาติตาพระยา and Dong Yai wildlife sanctuary และเขตรักษาพันธุ์สัตว์ป่าดงใหญ่ was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name Dong Phayayen–Khao Yai Forest Complex (ผืนป่าดงพญาเย็น-เขาใหญ่).
SEE AND DO:
There are lots of camping grounds on the mountain and plenty of activities to do such as mount climbing, trekking (there are more than 20 routes), and spotting the animals at night. (I learned from the brochure I got from the visitor center that there are 3,000 species of plants, 320 species of birds and 66 species of mammals, including Asiatic black bear, Asian elephant, gaur, gibbon, Indian sambar deer, pig-tailed macaque, Indian muntjac, dhole, and wild pig.)
I drove from Bangkok myself and had only one day and a half and my intention coming here is just getting some fresh air and calmness into my system so I didn’t hire a guide to do serious trekking in the jungle this time around. I decided to visit the main waterfalls but still was pretty excited to see if I would meet any wild animals. (First time I came here five years ago I didn’t see many animals, just a lot of butterflies)
And my expectation was met; I was first welcomed by the big group of wild monkeys or macaques (I am not sure what the difference is) chilling out on the road to the visitor center. It was funny to see that they didn’t want to make way for the car like they were thinking ‘this is our neighbourhood, you are just a visitor so find your way in yourself’. lol
And when I arrived the visitor centre area, I got very excited even more to see three wild deers for the first time up close! They are not scared by human and just mind their own business having their lunch.
After admiring the lovely deers enough and got the map of the park from a friendly staff, I headed to the first waterfall in my list.
Khao Yai is famous for its many waterfalls; the most famous is the one that was appeared in Leonardo’s film “The beach” which is called Haew Suwat Waterfalls น้ำตกเหวสุวัต – This waterfall runs over a 20-meter cliff into a large pool below. I drove 13 kilometers from the gate and walked about 200 meters and saw this beautiful waterfall in front of me as well as playing with many pretty butterflies in the area.
– Swimming is not allowed in this waterfall, the stream is very strong.
– The best time of the year to visit the waterfall is during the rainy season (May till October).
While I was driving back to the resort pass a viewpoint, I saw something in a distance moving so I stopped and walked to see it closely. It was one of the most wonderful moments in my life, It was a herd of 20 wild deer! I wanted to get very close to them but they seemed scared and all of them put their heads up straight looking at me, so I just zoomed my camera and took a photo of them and left with joy in my heart. <3
Second day, I visited Haew Narok Waterfall น้ำตกเหวนรก which is the largest and highest waterfalls in the park. It is a three-tiered structure that extends 150 meters from the top tier to the basal lake.
It is 23 kilometers from the gate on small road and lots of curves, but driving through the forest with the car window open feeling the fresh air and hearing the sound of nature was pleasant.
From the car park, we have to walk one kilometer further with 200 stairs. It was a nice walk observing forest and listen to the birds although I couldn’t see them.
You can get a glimpse of the vastness, with short trails for gentle walks, but with trainers, suitable gear, and an organised guide who knows where to go and what to look for this is a trip I definitely plan to revisit.
Thai: Adult 40 Baht , Kid 20 Baht
Foreigner : Adult 400 Baht, Kid 200 Baht (If you have work permit/visa or a proof that you work and live here in Thailand, you can pay Thai price).
If you bring in your own transportation, a small fee will be applied:
Bicycle 20 Baht
Motorcycle 30 Baht
Car 50 Baht
Mini van 100 Baht
There are hundreds of accommodations near the park for budget travelers as well as high end resorts with spa services and restaurants. I would suggest you to stay near Thanarad Rd. so you don’t need to travel too far to the park. (Five years ago I stayed at a resort situated one-hour away from the park without knowing, it was really tiring drive back and forth).
There are also various cabins and bungalows available in the park. My friends stayed there once during the cold season and they said it was very basic with no heating system so you need to come prepared for it
If you like camping, camps tents can be rented for 150 or 225 Baht (for 2 or 4 people respectively) along with pillows, sleeping pads and a few other things. Showers and electricity available.
Khao Yai has two entrances. By far the busiest is to the north in Nakhon Ratchasima Province, with most travellers passing through the town of Pak Chong. The southern entrance is in Prachinburi Province.
From Bangkok, Khao Yai is less than 3 hours by car. From Phahonyothin Road the quickest way [160 km] is to turn right at Rangsit Junction into Highway 305 [Rangsit to Nakhon Nayok]. Before arriving at Pranchinburi, switch left to Highway 33 at Naresuan Junction. Turn left on Highway 3077 that leads northwards another 41 km to the park headquarters.
Take a bus from the Mo Chit bus station to Pak Chong which leave every20 minutes from 04.00am – 20.00pm. It takes about 2 hours and a half.
There are 3 companies as below:
– Ratchasima Tour Company – Tel. (Bangkok) 02-936-1615, (Nakhon Ratchasima) 044-245-443
– Air Korat Pattana Company – Tel. (Bangkok) 02-936-2252, (Nakhon Ratchasima) 044-252-999
– Suranaree Air Company
In front of the 7-11 in Pak Chong trucks shuttle visitors to the gates. The only way to get around the park in caseyou don’t bring your own car is either to arrange a ride in advance from a tour agency, arrange for a park ranger to pick you up.
Return Trip: Due to Park Chong district is between Nakhon Racchasima and Bangkok. The return trip is needed to wait for a coach bus which drives from terminal at Nakhon Racchasima. On average, a coach bus will come in every 45 minutes. You can buy a ticket at 3 terminals as following:
1. The terminal in front of Handy Mart convenience store
2. The terminal next to Pak Chong Chareon Mit Cross hotel
3. The terminal (Transport Service) Behind Kakinang restaurant
From Bangkok get on an affiliated van at the Victory Monument. Fees for each passenger is 250 THB per trip.
Aunt Jamnong Van
For seat booking,contact Aunt ‘Nong’ 089-9003097 Bangkok terminal: 089-844-8254, Pak Chong terminal: 089-616-1952
** ‘Jamnong Van‘ has special service from Bangkok to your desired tourist attraction. You can hire a van.
Tel. 08-1669-9658 (Bangkok), 08-999-3707 (Pakchong),
Return trip Pak Chong – Bangkok: The station is at The Home Tower building opposites with night market at Pak Chong intersection. The van will take off in every 1 hour during 05.00-19.00hrs.
For a person who is not in a hurry and wish to take a classic view of Thai trains. There are trains from Hua Lampong train station to Pak Chong station every day. It takes around 5 hours.
Contact State Railway of Thailand Tel: 1690, 02-223-7010 or see additional details in www.railway.co.th
Language learning Key Point
เขา kăo means mountain
ใหญ่ yài means big
เขาใหญ่ kăo yài means big mountain
อุทยานแห่งชาติ ùt-tá-yaan hàeng châad means national park
Have you visited Khao Yai National Park before? How did you enjoy it?
Elephant conservation in Khao Yai
Last weekend, Mink my brother and his friends from Thailand State Alumni Community went to The Thai Elephant Research and Conservation Fund (TERF) in Khao Yai. It is an NGO based in on Thanarad road in Mu Si.
The TERF work on different projects through Thailand, their main missions are:
-Conservation of Thai elephants through interdisciplinary research and use of traditional local knowledge
-Enabling public participation in elephant conservation through education, awareness raising and encouraging positive action.
-Working with others from Thailand and around the world for the benefit of Thai elephants.
In Thailand, wild elephants have suffered dramatic loss of forest habitat in the last century and are continuing to suffer from poaching, live capture and conflict with humans living on the edge of protected areas. In the past you might have seen elephants walking on the streets in some big cities mainly or the purposes of making money from tourists wanting to feed them, but thankfully this type of trade is disappearing now. You can do more by making a visit to the TERF in Khao Yai and enjoy an elephant ride, get informations about different conservation projects.
Thai Elephant Research and conservation center
99/9 Moo 4,Tambon Musee, Pak Chong, (opposite Fabb café), Nakon Ratchasima,Thailand. 30130
Telephone : 044-297406 , 08-1799-8727
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Although I am looking at it after visiting the park but I liked the article and the way you managed your trip. Loved the place in 2days. Also there is a lot in the surrounding of the park.
Sawatdii ka Fay, thank you for your comment. I am happy to hear that you enjoyed my article. It has been a while since I went to the park last time, I would like to revisit after reading your message. 🙂
Love national parks and want to be there one day. Thanks for the post. It is inspiring.
Thank you for visiting my website. I am happy to hear that you enjoyed the article.
Thanks for yr sharing. I’m going to Khao Yai soon and readinf about your experience makes me very excited!
I know its been a few years for your trip. But would you happen to know if we can take a train from Don Mueang station instead?
Thanks for your help 🙂
I am sorry for the delay in my response.
Yes you can take a train from Donmueang station to Pak Chong. You can check the time table and book the ticket on the railway website here: http://www.railway.co.th/home/Default.aspx?ID=&lang=EN
This article is great because I haven’t been able to find such a complete overview about the park. After reading through what you wrote, I am sure that I will go there tomorrow. I can’t wait to see the wildlife and waterfalls. Also the plural of deer is deer, you do not need to add an s to the end.
Thank you for comment. I will edit the mistake. Hope you had fun at the park.
It is a really nice place
A beautiful picture of the place and the atmosphere is beautiful too …… I hope that I visit this place because it is quiet and explains the chest ……
400bht vs 40bht….LOL…3rd world mentality thai gov.
Hi Mod. Thanks for the info you share. From one comment I understand that we can rent a motorbike to wander around. Just wondering if it’s easy to find highlight places on my own on a motobike, and I’m travelling with my 10 year old daughter too 🙂
Thank you, for the article.I couldn’t find good information like that on the web. What’s more I go to Thailande in march. I’m going to rent a flat to BKK and go to Khao Yai maybe and Chantaburi. ^^
Your article was very well written and very informative and I enjoyed reading it.
I like to go camping mostly and in the UK and Europe this is never a problem, however on coming to Thailand I find the idea more of a challenge due to the heat and lack of campsites plus it does not appear to be popular amongst Thais. Your article has given me a new found interest as you mention that there are or is a campsite at Khao Yai, do you have more information about this? Thank you khun Mod
Sawatdee ka Martin, thank you for reading my post. I am happy to hear that you enjoyed it:)
Regarding the campsite in the park, you can find more information and make online reservation here: http://www.dnp.go.th/parkreserve/tent_reservation.asp?lg=2
Let me know if you enjoy the park.:)
Dear Mod, I was wondering if Aunt Jamnong Van might have a website or email address at which I can contact her? Thanks for a informative read on Khao Yai!
Sawatdee ka Celeste, I am sorry if my post is not clear. The Aunt Jamnong Van contact is actually below the line ‘Aunt Jamnong Van’.
For seat booking,contact Aunt ‘Nong’ 089-9003097 Bangkok terminal: 089-844-8254, Pak Chong terminal: 089-616-1952
Nick W says
Khao Yai is really great National Park, but the best National Park in Thailand in my opinion is Kaeng Krachan, once you are deep into the forest, no traffic at all, and you can barely see few tourists here and there.
I was thinking of going to Khao Yai tomorrow but did not realize westerners pay as much as 400 Baht to get in. You indicated that foreigners with work permits pay the same as Thai nationals. I wonder if my education visa offers the same benefit?
Also, do you really have to make arrangements with a tour guide to enjoy the park? I was hoping to just be able to wander around on my own, since I do not have a car. Looks like I may have to postpone the trip and perhaps rent a car. Either way, good post!
I actually ended up going yesterday, so now I can answer my own questions: I was lucky and didn’t have to pay the farang entrance fee since I am in Thailand on an education visa.
Also, I found out you can rent a motorbike in Pak Chong, which I did. So I rode my rental motorbike to the park, and inside the park. Unfortunately I only had about 3 hours inside the park since I had to return the motorbike by 6 pm as I was going back to Bangkok the same day, but it was a very nice experience, and I got to see some very beautiful scenery, elephants and other wildlife.
Sawatdee ka Ralf, I am sorry I didn’t reply to your questions earlier. I am happy to hear that you enjoyed the park and paid the Thai price:) Anyway, you saw elephants!!! I didn’t and I wanted to see them so badly.
I was in Khao Yai with my 2 kids in 2008. It was amazing to be there. We was hiking in the national park with a local ranger. We saw many different animals, and my kids took a bath in Haew Suwat Waterfalls. We came with train from Ayuttaya to Khao Yai, and I will recommend the train tour and also the Khao Yai national park. I was an amazing journey in a amazing country.
Wow, this was awesome! I really enjoyed hearing about your adventure, and I would love to see this park for myself some day. Khob khun khrap!
Thank you for reading my article. I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed reading it. Hope you have great trip when you visit the park as well 🙂
Excellent and very very informative and well written and presented article on ( wait let me copy and paste the name ) Khao Yai National Park. You have answered everything I wanted to know as I have an idea to go to visit in October/ November time Saved me a lot of time asking for how to get there and time scales so 10/10
Just have to save up now as had to get a new PC so its put me back for a month 🙁 I would choose Christmas and New Year as its amazing in BKK at that time more so than here in England as BKK goes Christmas crazy
So a very big thank you from me na ka ( yes I know na ka not correct but I like to write it )
Sawatdee ka kun Mark, thank you for reading my post and your kind comments. I am happy to know that you found my article informative:)
Hope you have a great trip in Thailand. 🙂
Your article is good. The park looks great in your photos. You take a pretty good photo yourself.
You really got some good shots in short order.
Thank you for reading my article. I am happy to hear that you enjoyed reading it:)
Excellent article. Thank you.
Mod you bring an enthusiasm to everything you do that makes all your writing and videos fun. Plus they are well planned and well executed.
Planning to visit Bangkok in October, and will definitely think about heading to this National Park.
Need to get back to studying my Thai. I’m tempted by the private Thai lessons idea. I’ll keep thinking.
Sawatdee ka Mike, thank you for your kind comments. I am happy to hear that you liked my videos and article.
We offer one-hour free trial lesson, if you are interested just let us know your ideal time to meet up: )
Robert Honer says
Hi Mod I enjoyed your article and pictures of Khao Yai, I visited the park back in 2008 and what a beautiful place. When I went there I was told that I may see wild elephants but I was a bit disappointed that I missed out on seeing any on the trip, although there were plenty of barking deer, a couple of porcupines, many different types of birds and so many monkeys. We stayed in a cabin near a small lake and there were so many barking deer that had no fear of humans. The cabin was fantastic in the early morning a mist rolled over the lake and it looked so enchanting. The monkeys on the road in Khao Yai were quite an experience as well and hope some day that I make it back there.
Sawatdee ka Robert, I was hoping to see elephants too, but I saw only their poops.Thank you for reading my post:)
Kawp Kun Krap Mod! Thanks for another great update with great photos…
Sawatdee ka Joey, thank you for reading my post and your comment. kop kun ka.:)
Wow! this is such a nice article and helpful I shall be sure to visit there when next in the area. I live in Koh Samui so it is quite faraway.
Thank you very much dear teacher.
Thank you for reading my article. You should find a chance to visit this place definitely:)
Hello Ajaan Mod,
This brings back memories. On my first trip to Thailand (in 1985) I visited this beautiful area. The place is still worthwhile to visit as it has not changed too much.
Thank you for sharing,
Sawatdee ka kun Henk,
Thank you for reading my article. I’m happy to hear that you liked it. kop kun ka:)
Thanks for the great info about Khao Yai National Park! I was at Erawan a few years ago, and that was nice, but Khao Yai is a must on my next trip. Thanks for great lessons too Mod! I follow your videos and have learned a lot.
Sawatdee ka kun Bert, thank you for reading my article. I enjoyed Erawan waterfall as well. You will like Khao Yai definitely. Also thank you for following my lessons. Hope you continue to watch my videos in the future as well. 🙂
Ajaan Mod please make adjustment…spelling of “ajaan”
Ajan Mod: An excellent recap of one of the best places close to BKK to get away from it all. Kop khun mak khrap, Khun MIke
Thank you for reading my post ka kun Mike. I am happy to hear that you liked it. : )
Lee B says
Khao Yai looks really nice. I would love to go there to do some trekking and to see the lovely views with the wild animals. It is on my to do list for my next visit to Thailand. Thanks Mod, kop kun khrap 😀
It is a really nice place indeed. I can’t wait to revisit myself. Hope you will have a great trip there: )