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Khao Yai National Park

by Dr. David

Khao Yai National Park is the first national park announced in Thailand, (on 1962), and it is considered to be the best and most famous of all of Thailand’s national parks. It is located only 2.5 hour drive from Bangkok. Khao Yai National Park has been recognized as a national heritage site by UNESCO.

Khao Yai National Park means the high mountains in the Thai language. And as the name implies – the national park stretches over a mountain range. The tallest mountain is Khao Rom. It is 1350 m. high.

The national park’s extraordinary beauty, plenty of waterfalls, vegetation and many species of animals and birds along with its wonderful weather and relatively short distance from Bangkok have turned it into a paradise for nature lovers.

The Khao Yai national park spreads over 2,168 square km. It is the third biggest national park in Thailand. It expands over a few provinces – Nakhon Ratchasima, Saraburi, Prachinburi and Nakhon Nayok.

The areas bordering with the national park are also quite interesting; You can find detailed information about Nakhon Nayok and Pak Chong (a district of Ratchasima), on this site.

A single road crosses the national park from north to south. From it there are roads leading the visitors to the waterfalls and the different lookouts. There are many treks on the national park. Some of them are short and can be great for families with young children.

Tourist Attraction in the Khao Yai National Park:

Wild Nature: about 80% of the national park is covered by different kinds of forests, including evergreen tropical rain forests, which accounts for most of the national park’s area. In addition, there are areas with big meadows and some 2,000 species of plants.

On the trees you can find moss, vines, lianas, fern, colorful lichen and different types of fungus. The numerous plants found in these forests are a wonderful habitat for many species of reptiles, wild animals, insects and birds. To put it short, Khao Yai National Park is a paradise for wild nature lovers.

Animals: There are many wild animals, reptiles, insects and birds in the national park. You can find tigers, elephants, monkeys, dear, and even bears. Elephants can be seen there pretty often – but remember this is a national park – not a zoo!

There are some species of reptiles in the national park such as crocodiles, (not dangerous ones), and many species of lizards as can be seen in the video at the bottom.

There are 320 species of birds in the national park which turns it into a real paradise for bird watchers. It is highly likely that you will see people walking around the park with telescopic cameras patiently waiting to take a good shot of a pretty bird.

Waterfalls: Khao Yai National Park is the home for 44 waterfalls, some of which are very famous for their spectacular view. Below I will write about a couple of them:

Haew Narok Waterfall – this is the biggest and most impressive waterfall of the national park. It has 3 drops combining a total of 150 meters. During the rainy season and the following month the waterfall is so powerful that it can be heard from afar. The waterfall is found approx. 800 meters from the car park and there is a convenient path of some 200 stairs leading to it. During the morning hours the waterfalls’ spray creates a magnificent rainbow. The waterfalls’ area is also the elephants feeding area.

Haew Suwat Waterfall: this is the most famous of all the waterfalls in the park. The movie “The Beach” with Leonardo diCaprio has been shot there, (the famous jump in the movie was from this waterfall). The waterfall is about 20 meters tall and it is easily accessible. It is only 150 meters away from the car park. The park offers an option to combine a visit at the waterfall with a two hour walking trek.

Walking Treks:

The National Park offers a variety of walking treks, beginning with short treks suitable for families with young children and ending with long (8 Km.), treks. There are easy, paved treks which gives families with children a wonderful taste of the jungle.

All in all, there are 50 Km. of walking treks on the national park which makes it an absolute haven for trek lovers. Some of the treks can be done without a guide and others are better done with a local guide…especially if you don’t want to find yourself alone in the jungle at night J In addition, the National Park offers 3 days walking treks.

** We adjust our tour program to our tourists ages and desires.

Lookout points: Khao Yai National Park offers many lookouts over its amazingly pretty scenery. Some of the lookouts are just off the road and others are a short walking distance from it.

Found on the meadows are small salty pools created for the big animals so tourist can watch them. In addition, there are lookout towers on certain parts of the national park built especially for the tourists. Some of the walking treks pass by these lookout towers and the tourists are more than welcome to climb up and comfortably enjoy the view and the animals.

The Bat Cave: an absolutely amazing phenomenon can be seen here at the national park – millions of bats fly out of a cave at the early evening hours to the national park to enjoy the abundance of fruits awaiting for them on the trees there. Sometimes you can even see a vulture catching one of these bats while flying, (I have seen it with my own eyes).

You can see this breathtaking sight just outside the national park at Pak Chong area, near the national park’s northern gate. This is an unbelievable sight – a huge colony of bats flying out of a cave found on a cliff across from the national park at 17:30 – 18:00. It takes about an hour for all the bats to leave their cave.

I have taken pictures of this amazing phenomenon from the ground as well as with the aid of a drone which can be seen in the video below – do not miss this one!!

Night Safari: the national park guides offer Night Safari every evening. This guided Night Safari is done on the national park’s open vans which have a good spotlight that allows you to see some of the animals living on the national park from time to time. The Night Safari begins at the national park’s offices and you should book your tickets in advance! Please remember that entrance to the national park is possible only till 18:00 unless you have a booking for the Night Safari.

I am not sure if I’d like to recommend the Night Safari to you as I have done it quite a few times and some of the times I was disappointed. What can be seen in the video at the bottom is considered a successful safari. I think the Night Safari is nice, (in case it is successful), and can be an evening adventure for families with children, (it takes approx. 45 minutes).

General Information About Khao Yai National Park

Season:  All year round, however from August to April is the best time. During the rainy season and a bit after it there is an abundance of water and the waterfalls are absolutely magnificent. Please take into consideration that during November through February temperatures can drop down to 10 degrees Celsius during the evening and night so warm clothes are needed.

Opening Hours:

The National Park is open daily from 6:00 to 18:00. After 18:00 entrance is only with Night Safari tickets.

Moving Around, Overnight Stay and Food:

It is very hard to move around in the national park without a car. There are no hotels and resorts on the national park grounds, but camping sights are available. There are no restaurants on the national park, however there are a few unimpressive food stalls next to the park offices.


Khao Yai National Park is the best and most famous national park in Thailand. It is a paradise for wild nature lovers as well as for anyone who enjoys waterfalls, wild animals, birds, etc.

The National Park’s wonderful weather and its location, only 2.5 hours away from Bangkok turn it to an ideal target for travelling, especially for families.

When looking for mountains in Thailand, many people would automatically think of going up north, to Pai and Chiang Rai as they are not aware of the wonderful mountains of Khao Yai National Park located near Bangkok. The park’s area as well as the area around it are so pretty that they will leave you breathless!!

The areas near Khao Yai National Park – to the north, Pak Chong area, which is called by the Thai people “Swiss Thailand” and the area south of the national park, Nakhon Nayok – offer plenty of tourist attractions. I intend to write articles about these areas shortly.

Coming shortly: “TipTop Travel” Thailand Private Family Adventure tour program of Khao Yai National Park and the surrounding area – Pak Chong and Nakhon Nayok

I recommend that you read an article published on Travelfish, which is in my opinion the best Thailand travel guide. Below is a brief from the article:

When seeking mountains in Thailand, most automatically head for distant northern destinations like Chiang Rai and Pai, but many are unaware of just how stunning the Khao Yai mountains northeast of Bangkok actually are. Not limited within the borders of Khao Yai national park alone, this vast region boasts some jaw-dropping scenery, which we enjoyed on a drive from the national park’s northern gate to the eastern Wang Nam Kiew area.

  • Click here to read my article about Nakhon Nayok area, south of the national park
  • Click here to read my article about Pak Chong which is nick-named “Swiss Thailand”
  • Coming soon – “TipTop Travel” best Thailand Private tour programs of Khao Yai National Park and the surrounding area
  • Click here for “TipTop Travel” : Thailand Private Family Adventure Tours programs
  • to contact “TipTop Travel” for planning Thailand Private Family Adventure tour program press here

** Even though this article is quite long it is hard to encompass the diversity of activities offered by Khao Yai National Park to its visitors – you can taste a bit of the National Park on the video I prepared for you – Enjoy!!




Dr. David
Thailand-Expert : Thailand Travel Guide
“TipTop Travel” : Thailand Private Family Adventure Tours


Also Check: Pak Chong Area – “Swiss Thailand”

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