Khao Yai National Park

October 13, 2013

About 2 hours driving from Nakhon Ratchasima you can find Khao Yai National Park: a huge natural park where the wilderness has made place for a 2-lane asphalt road so you can enjoy the nature from the comfort of your car. That is, of course, if you make it that far and are not being held up with Smoke House, the Nam Phut natural spring, or Palio Khao Yai indefinitely. Options to reach Khao Yai National Park are quite limited: you either book a group tour by bus or you go there by car; every other idea of transportation will be cumbersome or simply impossible.

Vehicle fee: 50 baht. No matter if its a Thai vehicle or not. Not sure if they charge as much for a bike (noticed quite some people going up and down the hills on roadbikes and mountain bikes).

Vehicle fee: 50 baht. No matter if it is a Thai vehicle or not. Not sure if they charge as much for a bike (noticed quite some people going up and down the hills on road bikes and mountain bikes).

Like most Thai parks there is dual pricing at the gate: Thai residents pay 40 baht entrance and non-residents are charged an astonishing 400 baht. The reasoning behind this is still as crooked as always, but for whoever has a Thai driver’s license or student card you might be able to get in for the same price as Thai residents. In my case we were lucky: the person at the entrance instantly believed we had some students on board and there wasn’t even a need to show our student cards.

Entrance fee for students and residents: 40 baht. For non-residents: 400 baht.

Entrance fee for students and residents: 40 baht. For non-residents: 400 baht.

As soon as you enter the National Park the hills will start and all you do is drive up and down with a beautiful glimpse of a mountain view every now and then when there are fewer trees on either side of the road. And it won’t take long before you see the first wild monkeys on the side of the road waiting for people to feed them. Feeding the monkeys is strictly forbidden but the fact the monkeys sit there all day long waiting for a meal means they have some success every now and then or otherwise they would go into the woods to find some other food.

Some of the wildlife in Khao Yai National Park. The big monkey scared me to death by all of a sudden changing his stance making it look like he was about to make a huge jump into the car or in my face. Luckily the car window closed really fast...

Some of the wildlife in Khao Yai National Park. The big monkey scared me to death by all of a sudden changing his stance making it look like he was about to make a huge jump into the car or in my face. Luckily the car window closed really fast…

Besides the view and the monkeys there are a few waterfalls in Khao Yai National Park where you can get out of your car and relax a bit. It is possible to reach the bottom of the waterfall and go for a refreshing swim but it might be hard to reach as there is no wheelchair access or anything remotely looking like a safe climb down.

Enjoying nature at the top of waterfall.

Enjoying nature at the top of a waterfall.

While I have been in the park several times before the last time had something special: wild elephants. While elephants are not that special in Thailand it was quite impressive to see a group of wild elephants going through the park. Apparently they always walk a similar route and if you are lucky you will walk right into the group when making your tour through the park, but from the reaction of the people who were there at the same time as us it is still quite rare since everybody panicked to reach for their cameras and come as close as possible. Be warned though that these elephant are still wild elephants so if you come too close you might end up flying to the hospital or bringing your car to the garage to get the dents out.

A group of elephants going through the national park, it appears they always walk the same route.

A group of elephants going through the national park, it appears they always walk the same route.

Khao Yai National Park is a nice place to visit even though the normal entrance fee of 400 baht is quite high. But due to the location it is a nice place to combine with the other attractions in the neighborhood. For the person driving the tour through the park will be more fun than for the people relaxing in the car since no matter how strong your stomach and mind are, you will feel nauseous after a long drive hill up and hill down with all the steep corners. But if you are lucky you will be repaid nicely with a view of a group of wild elephants tracking through the park.   

People running to the best spots to make pictures of group of wild elephants in Khao Yai National Park.

People running to the best spots to make pictures of group of wild elephants in Khao Yai National Park.

For questions/remarks you can contact me at: eric@stuckinthailand.com

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