Adventurous travelers are always in search of new terrain to conquer. At over 2,000 square kilometers, Khao Yai National Park is Thailand's second largest national park, and just full of jungles to trek through. In the southwest of Thailand is a sanctuary of mountains and waterfalls.
Khao Yai National Park, Thailand
One of the biggest draws to Khao Yai National Park is the spectacular waterfall scenery. They aren't necessarily large, but the setting is like something from "The Jungle Book." The rainy season (May to October) is best time to see these falls as they might dry up in the hot season (March to April). Please remember swimming in the falls is not allowed.
Leo DiCaprio fans will surely remember the Haew Suwat Waterfall. Featured in the movie "The Beach," this breathtaking waterfall is easily at the top of the list for waterfalls in the park. It also serves as the trailhead for several walks - including the smaller Haew Sai falls just a 15-minute walk downstream.
The Haew Narok Falls are never a disappointment. This three-tiered waterfall stands over 150 meters tall. This massive landmark is simply stunning and a great spot for photos. The top of the falls is surrounded by a giant elephant fence to keep the mighty creatures from falling and being swept over.
A quick drive and a short walk away from the visitor's center is the perfect spot to stake out the lands of the park. The Non Pak Watchtower overlooks the reservoir, and is a great spot to visit at dawn or dusk. Keep your eyes open for sambar, boar and maybe even an elephant.
For the best view of the park, however, make your way to Pha Diew Die viewpoint. Here are there are two spots to see the whole park in all its beauty.
The best way to see all the amazing scenery and wildlife the park has to offer is by walking one of the many trails. The easier ones can be done on your own, but many require you to hire a guide. This might be a good idea since some of the trails aren't clearly marked, and it's easy to get lost.
There are trails available for a variety of times and physical abilities. One of the easier trails is river walk from Pha Kluamai Campsite to Haew Suwat Falls. It's approximately 90 minutes. On this walk, be sure to look out for the Khao Yai Crocodile. These are the only known Siamese crocodiles in the park. They can easily be seen laying on the edge of the riverbank. The signs say to beware, but these crocs rarely attack people unless provoked.
If crocs aren't your thing, take a trip for some gibbon watching. The Khao Yai Park is home to two species of gibbon - the white-handed and the pileated gibbon. Check them out in the morning, right at dawn, to hear them sing out their whale-like songs. Keep in mind many of the trails with the best gibbon views will require a guide.
And who doesn't love elephants? There are rumored to be up to 400 elephants in the park. If you scout out around the salt licks within the park at dawn or dusk, you'll have the best chance of spotting them - or even better take a night safari.
Food and Dining
Throughout the park, there are a number of café/food stands, but their open hours are rather inconsistent. Your best bet for a meal is the park center. Just on the other side of the visitor center there are several food stands overlooking the river, and a small restaurant with traditional Thai dishes.
It is strongly recommended to experience this park by car or motorbike. There isn't much in the way of public transportation in the park. If you don't have your own transportation, getting around the park can be quite difficult. There is one road that runs through the park from the Pak Chong side to Nakhon Nayok. It's mostly in good condition with several speed bumps to control speedy drivers. If you are driving through, be sure to keep your eyes out for little critters. Many animals, especially macaques, like to hang out along the roads. Also, remember gas stations are pretty limited in the park. So fill up before you venture in.