Khao Yai National Park was Thailand’s first National park and covering an area of 2,168 square kilometers is the second largest and most popular National Park in Thailand. The park is made up mainly of evergreen forest and grasslands and contains 50 kilometers of trails.
The park is said to be home to 3,000 species of plants, 320 species of birds, and 67 species of mammals, including Asiatic black bears, Asian elephants, tigers, gibbons. In attempt to get some of this animal action we stayed 2 nights at Khao Yai Garden Lodge also booking a day tour with them.
In Search of Animals
The trip started out with a drive through the park where we saw a Hornbill bird far off in a tree and plenty of the common but cute Macaque Monkeys. After a visit to the park head quarters we went for a Jungle Trek, though a fairly short walk through the jungle that lasted about 2 hours, it was fairly tiring and was just about right for me. The highlight of the walk was a bright green (and poisonous) snake camouflaged in a tree followed by a family of Gibbons swinging through trees not too far above our heads, a real highlight! Our guide, who was an excellent photographer had a huge zoom lense that he was able to attach to out SLR in order to get some cracking close ups of the wildlife.
After lunch in one of the park restaurants we visited the Haeo Suwat waterfall, as seen in the film The Beach for a relaxing swim followed by a drive up to one of the highest points of the park (about 1000 meters).
Once the sun had started to go down we set off in search of elephants in the dark. We were warned by our guide not to expect much, the last elephant was spotted 5 weeks ago (he took tours everyday) and there where only 250 wild elephants (around 100 sq km per elephant) in the whole National Park.
With this in mind we piled in the back of the pickup, staring into the darkness as we scouted the roads of the park. As it got late and we felt more tired it was hard not to feel that it was pointless when suddenly out of nowhere a ghostly grey figure came lumbering towards us down the road! Quickly into reverse we slowly edged back as the Elephant wandered towards before passing right by and into the field towards the orange salt lake, amazing! Unfortunately I didn’t realise my camera was on Manual Focus and I couldn’t for the life of me realise why they where coming out so blurry, it was probably a blessing as it meant I watched the Elephant rather than constantly photographing it!
Our guide was excellent and although I think staying and trekking in the National Park independently would be great fun, I’m not sure you’d get to see much without a guides keen eye. That said we’re lucky to have seen the wildlife we did with our guide, we spoke to a girl later in our trip who was unlucky enough to not see anything at all in Khao Yai.
By Bus: The nearest bus station to Khao Yai is in Pak Chong, a 2 and a half hour bus journey from Bangkok Moochit 2 Bus station, buses should leave Bangkok for every half hour.
By Train: Trains leave from Hualampong train station at 05.45 am, 6.40 am, 10.05 am, 3.20 pm, 6.55 pm. Travel time range from 4 to 5 hours to Pak Chong Train station.
Khao Yai Accommodation
Khao Yai Hotels and Guest houses are mainly located on the road leading up to the park, you can camp in the park or stay in a lodge but this needs to be booked in advance, see the National Park Website.
We stayed in Khao Yai Garden Lodge, a fairly large good sized rooms for 600 baht, it had a nice pool and restaurant that offered relatively expensive food. They came and picked us up from the bus station that was about 20km away. Trip Advisor Khao Yai Garden Lodge reviews here.
Other popular places to stay in Khao Yai that also offered recommended tours where Green Leaf .
Khao Yai Tours
We used Khao Yai Garden Lodge for our tour, they seemed pretty professional and a lot of other people on our tour had come from other accommodation.