The oldest national park in Thailand is less than two hours from Bangkok. Nature lovers can discover a huge animal and plant diversity as well as many scenic waterfalls. Upon request, an experienced Ranger assists the hikers through the jungle and passes their knowledge of the area where they work to the travellers. Anyone who feels fit enough can also try the heavier trails. Especially after heavy rain showers the many smaller and larger waterfalls are worth a visit.
Khao Yai National Park was established in 1962 as the first national park in the country. After several expansions the park has now a size of 2168-square-kilometer stretching over the provinces of Nakhon Rachasima, Saraburi, Nakhon Nayok and Prachin Buri. The park with its evergreen forests is the natural border between the central plain of Thailand and the high plateau of Isan. Many major rivers which are the source of rice and thus the wealth of Central Thailand as well as a reserve and protected area for rare plants and animals, Khao Yai has long been acknowledged by Thai and international tourists as a very special attraction and experience. With 1351 meters above sea level is the Khao Rom the highest mountain of the National Park whereby the average height lies by 700 meters above sea level. In July 2005, the Khao Yai Park along with several others parks located in the Dong Phaya Yen mountain range was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The forests and grasslands of the park are home to over 2,500 different plants, 70 mammal species, 70 reptile species, 340 bird species and over 5,000 rare insects. In particular, some of the 216 different butterfly species which can have a wingspan of 15 cm and more in length are especially striking and impressive. The wild and rare animals in the park include elephants, tigers, bears, deer, porcupines, gibbons and hornbills.
The Khao Yai National Park offers a wealth of attractions that can be discovered while hiking. In particular, the waterfalls and the tranquil rivers that run through the dense jungle are special attractions. Many visitors also explore the park at night safaris. These tours offer the opportunity to observe many of the wild animals close up.
From Bangkok there is the possibility of the train (Hua Lamphong) or bus (Mo Chit bus station) to travel to Pak Chong. From Pak Chong it then continues with a Songthaew to the Khao Yai National Park.
The Haew Narock waterfall in the south of the park is 150 meters high and can be reached via an 800 m long path. The Haew Suwat, Haew Prathun and Haew Sai waterfalls are at the end of Tanarat Road. In particular, the Haew Suwat waterfall is just a few meters away from the road. Nearby there is a small restaurant and as the trekking path from the visitor centre ends here this waterfall is a popular place to relax before going back.
Through the park are 13 hiking trails of varying difficulty. At the visitor centre you can find all the important information to the different trails. We recommend engaging a ranger from the visitor centre before starting a longer trip. They know the park well and can assist you or go with you on a trip. A two-day hike can also be organised with a ranger. Then hikers will stay overnight in one of the remote ranger stations within the park.
The Khao Look cave with the bats is near the northern entrance to the park in Pak Chong district. This limestone cave is home for more than a million bats which leave every evening in a 20 minutes stream the cave in search of food. This is a breath taking and unforgettable spectacle.
The National Park is Thailand's best destination for ornithologists and amateur bird watchers. A popular spot for observing the bird life in the park is an old golf course as well as a lookout point at kilometre marker 30 of Thanarat Road which runs from north to south through the park. Here are rare birds such like the Hornbill, Blue Pitta and different types of cuckoo, Siamese Fireback pheasants and other birds to be observed.
For several years, some businessmen took advantage of the relatively cool climate and dry soil around the park to grow wine. After difficulties in the beginning, foreign winemakers were invited from Australia and France to help with their expertise and now the region produced a good Cabernet and a very good Merlot in relatively small quantities. The wineries also invite guests to sample their wines and to visit the production facilities. Most wineries also have an attached restaurant and offer therefore an interesting stop outside the park.
The climate of this region is cool all year around. The average annual temperature is only 23 ° C compared to the 29 ° C in the just 80 kilometres away capital city. Especially at night the temperature can drop to about 10 ° C.
The 2,200 mm rainfall per year which is feeding many springs and riversa supply the southerly provinces and ultimately the Bangkok metropolis with water. Particular during the rainy season from July to the end of beginning of November there is a lot of rain to be expected.