Khao Yai National Park is a world heritage site declared by UNESCO and it is within 3 hours drive from Bangkok. So once you arrive at the Khao Yai area itself, you’ll need to drive deeper to get into the national park. We have covered Khao Yai/Pak Chong district as a preferred short city escape from people in Bangkok. We covered the topic from two aspects: Khao Yai boutique hotels and other accommodations, as well as Khao Yai restaurants and other eateries. In this article, we will be focusing on Khao Yai National Park, including how to get there and what you can do once you are inside the park.
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About Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai National Park is a large park which covers over 2,000 km2 in land area. The national park is located across 4 provinces in Thailand and serves as a mountain range that divides central and north eastern Thailand. The provinces and their land areas can be divided into
- Prachinburi: 1,154 km2
- Nakhon Nayok:582 km2
- Nakhon Ratchasima: 315 km2
- Saraburi:113 km2
We previously mentioned the national park as a UNESCO world heritage site. However, to be precise it is part of Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex (the UNESCO world heritage site), which comprises 5 conservation areas. Given the above status, you can expect to find forests, grassland, waterfalls and some wildlife in the area.
Also, one thing to note about the national park – there is a steep difference between the local and foreigner entrance fee i.e. THB 40 vs THB 400, at the time of our visit.
How to get to the Khao Yai National Park
Driving your own car
The easiest and most convenient way to get to Khao Yai National Park is to drive, as it would only take 3 hours by car from Bangkok. There are 2 main entrances to the park – one in Pak Chong district, Nakhon Ratchasima province, and another is in Meuang District, Prachinburi.
The drive up to the national park consists of slopes and many turns. However, it is not considered difficult and novice drivers such as ourselves have made it safely there. If you usually get car sick, taking a pill before making the trip up to the park is highly recommended. Please be careful with the driving and do not go too fast as there might be some wild monkeys lounging on the road or by the road.
While Khao Yai can be a day trip from Bangkok, there are many things to enjoy in the national park and its surrounding area (like Pak Chong district). Hence, a night stay in Pak Chong area can make your trip much more relaxing and your 2.5-3 hour drive more worthwhile.
Get a car/driving service
If you do not have a private car/license for driving in Thailand, purchasing a tour package or hire car and driver service would be the most convenient option for you to consider.
If you are in either Pak Chong or Prachinburi area already, you can also hire a 1-day taxi service with the help of your hotel. You can consider this option if you do not want to drive up and down the park yourself. The trip up to the national park will take 30-45 minutes from these locations.
Take the train
You can also get to the national park entrance by train. However, you will still require a car to go up the national park so this option is not recommended. There is no public taxi available in the entrance area either to bring you up to the park.
What can you do in the park?
Once you are already in the park, you can choose from 7 trekking trails which can range from 1 hour to 6 hours. Some trails are one-way and circular, which means you will get back to your starting point within 1.5 hour of trekking. These trails are safe for everyone to do without any guide. Other longer trails may require a guide or have specific requirements so you should check the information carefully or contact Khao Yai visitor center beforehand.
You can also visit the waterfall, animal observation tower, reservoir and other scenic points in Khao Yai National Park. More information with an interactive map of activities available can be found here.
Other than the above, you can also stay the night in the park to enjoy its weather and clear night sky. Two options available for you are:
If you have enough adventure in the national park and would love to have a more comfortable and convenient stay and experience, you can make your way down to Pak Chong district. Over there you can enjoy a nice stay at boutique hotels or visit some restaurants and farms.
Should you visit Khao Yai National Park?
Since it is a UNESCO heritage site and one of the must-go places in Khao Yai, if you are in the area, do visit this place. You can truly enjoy the fresh mountain air in the park. Moreover, if you are lucky, you can experience some sightings of the wild animals too such as deers. However, prepare yourself physically before you go there. Even the drive up the national park can be nauseating if you are prone to motion sickness. Also, there are not many toilets in the park (you can find in the Visitor Center area), so do not eat anything funky before you go to the park. This is based on our personal experience!
There are some sightseeing points in the park. Prepare your camera if you want to capture your Khao Yai National Park trip with your loved ones.
Check out our other posts about Thailand (and Khao Yai) here: