Khao Yai National Park was established in 1962 and was Thailand’s first National Park. It is located a mere 3 hours away from Bangkok. It can be seen in a day trip from Bangkok if you are short on time. We recommend, however, spending at least 2-3 days here. Two days give you enough time to take part in the two tours that are on offer. Three days gives you time to explore some of the many other quirky things that Khao Yai has to offer.
Day 1 :
Our first day was the full day tour in the National Park. We set off at 8am with our two guides and the two other people taking the tour. It was a welcome change to spend the day with other people, since our other days in Khao Yai would be just the two of us. (We were in Thailand during low season, so most places that we went were extremely quite). Of course, everyone that comes to Khao Yai National Park is hoping to see wild elephants. Realistically though, we knew our chances of seeing any were slim due to the size of the park. While it would have been cool to see some, were okay with that. We went on a trek through the jungle for about 2-3 hours, during which our guide spotted a number of animals/insects that we would NEVER have known were there. We saw gibbons, scorpions, monkeys, and a snake amongst other things. Toni became obsessed with ants during our time in South East Asia, so she was super excited to find huge trails of ants. We also got to visit two waterfalls in the park, which were surprisingly impressive.
Day 2 :
On our second day we did the half day tour. Unexpectedly, this was one of our favourite days of our 4 month adventure. The tour didn’t start until 3pm, so we had most of the day to relax outside and read our books. We first went swimming in a natural spring, that had some of the bluest and beautiful water we had ever seen. There were a lot of locals swimming here, and we witnessed some pretty cool flips into the water. Next we visited a completely undeveloped cave, where we saw a very large tarantula and were subsequently terrified. Our last and best stop of the tour was going to watch thousands upon thousands of bats leaving their cave at sunset to go hunting for food. There are really no words to describe what we felt while watching this. It was an absolutely incredible natural phenomenon. A few of the bats got plucked out by the equally hungry hawk (RIP) which was extremely interesting to watch.
We paid 1500 baht per person for both tours (just under $50USD). Because we were staying at accommodation provided by the same company doing our tours, it was only 300 baht per night for the two of us!
Day 3 :
Scenical World water park – Think Waterbom in Bali, but with no people. Seriously. We don’t know if it’s because of the location, or because of the lack of people writing about it. This place was all but empty when we were there and it doesn’t deserve to be. It has big water slides, an epic wave pool, a lazy river, and a pretty cool kids area. We never had to cue for any rides, so unlike more popular water parks we didn’t feel like we spent half of our day waiting in lines. This also meant we could go on the rides as many times as we wanted, score! It initially felt a little weird being in such a big place that feels like a ghost town, but we say take advantage of it! The staff are super friendly. Some of the rides require four people, if there is nobody else at the ride, the staff will ride with you to make up the numbers.
Price: Adults – 1250 baht ($40USD) Children – 850 baht ($37USD)
When we were finished here, we didn’t really know how to get to our next destination (public transport for foreigners isn’t a thing here). Luckily, a nice guy offered us a ride in the back of his truck, score!
You can camp inside the National Park if you are so inclined. If you plan on going to the National Park more than once, this is probably the best option, as you have to pay the entrance fee every time you enter the park. Aside from that, there is so much more to Khao Yai than the National Park. There are even Hobbit houses, for you Lord of the Rings fans that haven’t made it to New Zealand yet! You can check out this list for even more things to do that we didn’t have time for.