Khao Yai National Park is Thailand’s oldest nature reserve. With more than 2,000 square kilometers of unspoiled jungle, it’s one of Thailand’s most alluring parks. Only a stone’s throw away from Bangkok, Khao Yai is also famous for its wildlife, waterfalls, hikes and so much more. To find out more, read on!
Khao Yai National Park
A jungle tour through Khao Yai National Park is something we recommend to anyone. If you choose a two day tour with an overnight stay in Pak Chong, you’ll get to ride around the park in a Jeep and see the most amazing things.
The only times you’ll get off are to go on various hikes, to go swimming, for viewpoints and to see wildlife, like hundreds of thousands of bats flying out of a huge cave and, if you’re very lucky, to spot some elephants during sunset!
Oh… and watch out for Khao Yai National Park’s colorful insects. Make sure you’re wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants!
The rainy season
If you visit Khao Yai National Park during the rainy season (June until October), you’ll need to wear special socks to protect you against unwanted intruders, like… leeches!
Leeches are small, wormlike creatures that latch on to passers-by. Make sure your legs are covered and that you’re wearing good quality socks. Keep an eye on each other as well, as leeches like to crawl upwards.
But don’t worry, the tour guide will know how to get rid of them. Mosquito spray does wonders!
Waterfalls of Khao Yai National Park
The park is also famous for its many spectacular waterfalls.
The most famous one is the Namtok Heo Suwat, which is also very easy to get to. You might recognize this waterfall from the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio. In the movie, set on this beach, he jumps from the waterfall.
That’s not allowed during the jungle tour by the way. But it’s possible to view the waterfalls from above or down below depending on the trail.
Bats in Khao Yai National Park
The bat caves are among the absolute highlights of any visit to this amazing park. Expect a strong smell of ammonia, the sound of wings flapping in the dark and beautiful rock formations.
But that’s not all. The best is yet to come.
Dozens, hundreds, thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands bats live in the caves during the day. At dusk they fly out in huge numbers, looking for insects in the nearby park. Their foray into the night is not without risk however. Outside various birds of prey are ready to hunt down a nice meal of their own.
Bats fly together in huge numbers and form what is called a colony. But if one of them gets isolated, it’s done for. An amazing spectacle to behold and one you really should see if you’re in the park.
The Great Hornbill
Another one of the Jungle Tour’s delights is seeing The Great Hornbill, a beautiful bird with a wingspan of more than a meter and a half.
Some tour guides bring along binoculars, allowing for a closer look at this unique bird that can live to be up to 50 years old.
Wildlife of Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai National Park’s wildlife is incredibly diverse. You can book tours for multiple days so you’ll have more of a chance of coming across wildlife. The absolute highlights are the white elephants. They rarely show themselves, but you never know…
On our day and a half tour we came across scorpions, spiders, snakes, monkeys, crocodiles, gibbons, iguanas, beautiful birds and gigantic ants. Sadly, we didn’t see any wild elephants.
We booked our tour at Bobby’s Apartment and Jungle Tours. Mike, the owner, is super nice and helpful. His wife, who is Thai, cooks the best Thai meals ever.
The small town of Pak Chong and the accommodations aren’t exactly inspiring. Pak Chong is a large town that lacks charm. It’s just a place to stay while on the jungle tour in Khao Yai National Park.
UPDATE 28 JUNE, 2017: During the high season (November until February + July) Bobby’s Apartment’s Jungle Tours are generally fully booked, so here’s a small overview of other vendors of private tours through Khao Yai National Park.
Recommended Private Jungle Tours
Besides Bobby’s Apartment’s Jungle Tours, there are a couple of other tours we would like to recommend:
Dutch owner Ton and his wife Tan set up a great company that provides complete Jungle Tours. They offer a variety of jungle treks through Khao Yai National Park.
Khao Yai Beyond
Khao Yai Beyond is a small-scale, local organization that provides different kinds of tours through Khao Yai National Park. You can even put together your own tour, which offers a wide range of possibilities such as an overnight stay in the park itself.
Getting to Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai National Park is easily accessible from Bangkok. Buses leave from the northern (Morchit) and eastern (Ekkamai) bus stations every hour between the hours of 6:00 AM and 7:00 PM. The trip lasts three hours and tickets are 150 Thai Baht. Once you’ve arrived in Pak Chong, contact your hotel and arrange for a pick up.
Another option is to get a taxi from Bangkok. This is a comfortable, but also expensive, way to travel. The journey will take about two hours and will cost between 2,000 and 3,000 Thai Baht, one-way.