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If you are looking for a brand new experience that doesn’t involve visiting the beach or the city, then Khao Yai might be the place you are looking for.
The Khao Yai National Park spans more than 2,000 square kilometers and across four different provinces.
The bulk of the park is predominantly in Nakhon Ratchasima province and is about a three hour drive from Bangkok.
The park itself has it all – spectacular mountains, dense jungle and forest, an abundance of nature, waterfalls, lakes, hiking trails and much more.
The main entrance to the park is located approximately 20 kilometers from Pak Chong, the nearest town. The southern entrance can be accessed along a 60km stretch of road that has numerous viewpoints to stop along the way.
As well as the nature, located close to the park is a winery, caves worth exploring and even a Tuscan inspired village.
A word of warning though – unless you are visiting Khao Yai as part of an organised tour, you will need your own transport.
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Things to do:
1. Haew Narok and Haew Suwat Waterfalls
You cannot visit Khao Yai without visiting one of the park’s famous waterfalls. Haew Narok is the highest waterfall in Khao Yai, the top of which can be accessed by hiking up the 600m trail.
Haew Suwat is another well known waterfall in Khao Yai National Park and featured in the blockbuster movie The Beach starring Leonardo Di Carprio.
2. Khao Laem and Khao Khiau Viewpoints
Take in the best views of Khao Yai by hiking to one of its highest points, Khao Laem (1,328 meters) and Khao Khiau (1,350 meters). Accessed from the southern section of the park you can hike to the top of either within a day. There are a number of routes to the top, which are colour coded depending on their difficulty.
Khao Yai is home to an incredible variety of wildlife. Sightings of herds of elephants are common and can sometimes be seen without you even having to step out of the car. The park also has thriving populations of deer, macaques, gibbons, bears, snakes, lizards and birds of which there are over 300 varieties. There is also a small population of Indochinese tigers in the park.
It is best to observe the wildlife in the early morning or evening from Nong Pak Chi tower. There are also organised wildlife safaris in the park, while hiking yourself through the forest gives the best opportunity for bird watching.
4. Khao Luk Chang Bat Cave
Another popular place to visit is the Khao Luk Chang Bat Cave. Get there before sunset to watch tens of thousands bats fly from the cave and into the night sky. It’s really quite a sight. The cave is best accessed with the help of a guide or park ranger.
5. PB Valley (Khao Yai Winery)
After exploring the great outdoors in the national park, treat yourself to some wine tasting and delicious cuisine.
PB Valley Estate is situated on the edge of the Khao Yai National Park and is the birthplace of the Khao Yai wine region. Enjoy a professional guided wine tasting tour sampling red wine grapes like Shiraz, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and white wine grapes like Chenin Blanc and Colombard, as well as other varieties at the estate. The excellent on site restaurant serves a selection of Western and Thai specialties as well some fusion dishes ranging from simple snacks to complete gourmet lunches and dinners. More info: https://www.pbvalley.com/
6. Primo Piazza
If nature and the outdoors aren’t your thing, head to Primo Piazza for a taste of Italy, perhaps where you’d least expect to find it.
Primo Piazza brings the architecture from Tuscany to the heart of Khao Yai. Walk around the ground, take photos and enjoy Italian coffee and ice cream. There are even alpacas to feed. A good option for those with young children.
7. Scenical World
One of the newest attractions to Khao Yai, the Scenical World theme park brings thrills, spills and lots of fun for all the family.
Scenical World includes a theme park, water park, kids zone and shopping mall and offers fun for kids of all ages and grown ups too!
Perfect to visit for a day trip after you have explored the national park.
More info: https://scenicalworld.com/en/index.php