Khao Yai National Park covers an area of over 2000 square kilometers in the four provinces of Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Nayok, Saraburi, and Prachin Buri.
It was the first national park in Thailand and has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There’s a public road bisecting the park – which makes it surprising that it was awarded World Heritage status.
The road is in good condition and if you drive slowly you’ll get to see an array of wildlife. Keep an eye out for idiot drivers though, cause many use the park as a short-cut to Prachin Buri or Nakon Nayok.
The park has several mountains of around 1000 metres including Khao Khieo and is host to almost 2,500 plant species, 67 different kinds of mammals and over 300 species of birds. The abundant wildlife includes many endangered mammals such as elephants, gibbons, tigers, leopards and Malaysian sun bears.
There are a number of excellent lookouts which are worth stopping at. You can stretch the legs and enjoy the view. Watch out for the monkeys though, as they like to steal anything which is not firmly attached to you.
There are lots of designated trails within the park which allow you to get a closer view of the wildlife, especially the birds. Certainly worth the wander.
14kms from the northern entrance you’ll come to the Visitor Centre. This is a good place to stop for an hour or two.
The Visitor Centre has lots of interesting information and a couple of stuffed tigers in a rather sad state of repair. There’s a nice balcony out the back which gives good views of the forest.
There's a decent restaurant serving good Thai food at reasonable prices and there are nice clean toilets there as well.
After you've eaten it's time for some exercise and right behind the visitor centre is a nice short nature walk. You can see the track is 1,200 metres long, but you can opt for the short-cut which just follows the river – a distance of about 300 metres!
The swing bridges are neat, with one at each end of the trail, which meanders through some nice forest.
From the Visitor Centre it's a 13 km drive to Haew Suwat waterfall. Along the way you can stop on the side of the road to see deer, gaurs, a variety of birds and, if you are lucky, some elephants. If you're not lucky you should still notice their presence by the freshly trampled bush and copious droppings on the road!
This was the location of the famous jump scene in the movie The Beach, which has caused other to follow suit, with sometimes nasty results. Hence the attempted signage.
This is a rather beautiful spot, with a decent track to the bottom of the falls where you can swim.
If you drive slowly through the park you’ll be able to enjoy the company of others who also out and about with the family.
The Southern Entrance is at Nern Hom, which is 32 km from the Visitor Centre and that’s where you can exit the park. Just 300 metres outside the park is the rather lovely Kao Yai Grandview Resort. This is where we stay overnight on our two-day tours. The Hotel has a restaurant, swimming pool, spa, tennis courts, pedal boats on the lake and bikes for those with the energy. In the evening they run a night safari into the park so you can see the nocturnal wildlife.
On the way back to Bangkok it's good to stop and shop at the Nong Cha Om Fruit Market, where you can take great pleasure in selecting what you want from a wide variety of fresh fruit.
More information on touring Khao Yai can be found here
Book your Khao Yai National Park Trip with Bangkok Day Tours