Khao Yai National Park
Many nature lovers
in Bangkok are often looking for a place to relax that's not too far
from the city. Khao Yai is always a favourite for those who are truly
in need of a place where they can really get back to nature. The
main reason is its relatively close proximity to the city.
Since being declared Thailand's first national park in 1962, Khao Yai
has been a very popular attraction. People go there for various outdoor
activities ranging from education, camping, trekking, wildlife watching,
bird watching, mountain biking and even river rafting.
Access by road is easy and as you approach the park both sides
of the road are lined with restaurants, mini-marts, guesthouses, resorts,
lodges and golf courses. It may be that there are too many
people coming here and the forest is in danger of being destroyed.
The destruction of Khao Yai has been so heavy at times that in 1992
the government of Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun ordered the park
to be closed for reforestation purposes. Some hotels and resorts as
well as golf courses were scrapped as a result.
After a while, Khao Yai was reopened and welcomes tourists again, but
this time there was an attempt to be more cautious about tourism development.
Yet problems still remain, especially regarding encroachment and the
amount of garbage caused by tourism. Please try to be good tourists
and to travel with respect for nature.
Trekking at Khao Yai
Although various points of interest at Khao Yai can be easily accessed
by car, our group of young, energetic and enthusiastic trekkers chose
the more adventurous path trekking.
There are five nature trails of different distances. Each trail has signposts
that tourists can follow. Walkers can also request to have a park ranger
from the national park's headquarters accompany them as a guide. In the
rainy season, trekkers should beware of leeches. There's nothing to worry
about you can use an anti-leech bag. During the rainy season you
should also carry a raincoat.
Half Day Hike
most popular route in Khao Yai is a half day walk from Dong Tiew to
Nong Phak Chi Wildlife watch towers. The starting point was just
opposite the park's headquarters. Followed the signs at the roadside
and in a short while you will be in a dense forest. Further
on is the jungle where the sounds of insects and birdsong replaced
the noise of the cars on the road outside.
There was plenty of wild mushrooms, flowers, and streams to be spotted
on this 5.4-kilometre trail. There were also great variety of birds,
including Hornbills, Dollarbirds, red-headed Trogons, Drongos, Greater
Racket-tailed Drongos and red-mottled Lapwings.
It takes about three hours to reach the Nong Phak Chi viewing point.
The tower here is to help people observe wildlife at the nearby salt
lick. You may be lucky enough to see wild dogs or even a herd of elephants.
The watch tower is only a kilometre from the road, so it's quite a popular
Full Day Hike
A more adventuresome, one day hike is from the park headquarters to
Heaw Suwat waterfall, a distance of 8.1 kilometres, and then to continue
for another 4.5 kilometres to Thung Khao Laem.
Heaw Suwat is easily accessible by car but if you plan to test your
physical strength on the long and tough route, it may be advisable to
request a park ranger as a guide
The trail started very close to the office where you will be greeted
with the echoing sounds of gibbons. With a guide you will not
only feel safe but you will be able to observe him on duty.
The ranger will help pave our way through the wilderness, especially
the parts where the trail was covered with piles of dead trees. He will
be able to point out interesting plants and even wild animal tracks.
Normally the ranger's job is to search for the poachers who come
into the jungle illegally to cut valuable wood or hunt wildlife. It's
still a big problem for Khao Yai. Sometimes they come across the
encroachers and have to exchange fire with them. Some rangers have lost
their lives on duty and the world outside never hears about it.
It is good to know rangers are so devoted to protecting the national
heritage, and yet receive very little pay.
Birdwatchers on this trail will be delighted to see Oriental pied Hornbills,
Silver-breasted Broadbills, Red-whiskered Bulbuls, Black-crested Bulbuls
and many other birds. The park is home to more than 300 bird species.
It is an exhausting six hours from the starting point to Heaw Suwat
waterfall. From there is another 4.5 kilometres to Thung Khao Laem or
Khao Laem prairie and the only way to get there was to walk.
After three hours tramping in the wilderness, you will see the vast
green prairie stretching out ahead.
Thung Khao Laem is a vast field of high grass. Legend has it that the
area was once a rural community. Evidence of the existence of
this community can still be seen and the ruins of an old temple remain.
About Khao Yai
Khao Yai was proclaimed a national park in 1962. It is more than 1,600
square kilometres spanning four provinces: Nakhon Nayok, Prachinburi,
Saraburi and Nakhon Ratchasima. With its great diversity and abundance
of wildlife, Khao Yai has also been honoured as part of the Natural
Heritage of Asia. It has served as a prototype for other national parks
Khao Yai offers a wide range of accommodation for visitors. There are campsites at Pha Kluai Mai and Lam Ta Kong. The fee is 30 Baht per person.
This is great value and travellers will be well cared for. The area is safe and level, an ideal place to pitch a tent for the night.
We ask that you bring your own tents, of course, and if you are more interested in hotel offers
there are hotels in the area, but an authentic campsite is a great experience, so please do consider. The weather is usually wonderful and we offer
the normal services available at any reputable campsite.
As you arrive at Khao Yai, go to the Tourist Service Centre for details
on accommodation or to request a park ranger to accompany you on a trek.
Khao Yai offers a wide range of accommodation for visitors. There are
campsites at Pha Kluai Mai and Lam Ta Kong. The fee is 30 Bahtper person.
The campsites can be quite crowded. There are public toilets and bathrooms.
Khao Yai is easily accessible by car. Take the Pak Chong or Prachinburi
routes from Bangkok.
Prachinburi route: take highway No. 305 from Rangsit-Ongkharak road
to Nakhon Nayok and follow highway number 33, then turn left at Naresuan
ring road and follow highway No. 3077 and after about 10 km you'll reach
the park headquarters. This route is a shorter distance from Bangkok
but steeper. This route is also more scenic and has many points of interest.
Heaw Narok waterfall is a short distance if you take this route.
Pak Chong route: Follow highway No. 1 to Saraburi province, then turn
right to route No. 2 which goes to Pak Chong. Then take highway No 2090
for about 20 kilometres and you'll reach the entrance. The Pak Chong
route is longer.