Khao Yai National Park is roughly a 3-hour drive from Bangkok and is one of Thailand’s most visited national parks. In terms of size, it is the third-largest in the country, covering 2,168 sq.km. Within the park, you can find some of Thailand’s most diverse flora and fauna, with 2,000 different species including 300 types of birds, and 70 species of both reptiles and mammals, notably the Indochinese tigers which are critically endangered have recently been spotted breeding in the park premises. Khao Yai is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the only places in Thailand where you can find herds of elephants walking along the park roads.
HIKING THE PARK
There are three different levels of hiking within Khao Yai, with the two of the easiest and most popular walks in the park being nature trails. The first is a 5km walk, which begins at the Park Office and ends at Nong Pak Chi; this usually takes just under 2 hours to complete, and will have you hiking up a mud road. The second (Kong Kaew to Old Golf Course Road) is a much easier 1.5km walk which is ideal for any avid birdwatcher. The park has one of Thailand’s largest populations of hornbills (including the Great, Wreathed, Oriental Pied, and Brown), as well as being home to exotic species such as Orange-breasted Trogons, Siamese Fireback, and much more. The trail should take approximately 45 minutes to complete.
There are 6 intermediate hikes you can do around the park which do not require a guide. Visitors should check with the park office to verify the trail conditions, which can range from good to dangerous, depending on the weather. Like most national parks, the trails can sometimes become a weathered and hard to see, so be sure you have a compass and map with you, just in case. One of the more scenic treks starts at the Pha Kluaymai Waterfall and takes you through to Haew Suwat Waterfall. Most treks average between 2-8km and can take anywhere between 1-5 hours to complete. There are 5 other treks which all require a local guide; ideally, allow yourself at least 1 full day of hiking. Most of these can be completed within a day although they can be done as an overnight trek – there are 2 main campsites which are situated between Haew Pratoon, Haew Sai Fai, Haew Suwat and the Kongkaew falls. Both campsites have a restaurant close by so bringing food is not necessary. Be aware if you bring food along, as the monkeys are known to steal.
The national park has teamed up with a number of different partners licensed by the Tourist Authority of Thailand to deliver a selection of wildlife tours at Khao Yai.
These tours run from 1 to 4 days and include hiking as well as a guide to help spot any wildlife such as elephants, gibbons, hornbills, snakes and much more. Prices range from 2,000 THB
to 22,400 THB, with leech protection socks provided.
Whilst bats are not commonly known to be the most attractive creatures, their beauty can be seen in numbers. In the northern end of Khao Yai lies the Khao Luk Chang Bat Cave, home to over 3 million Wrinkle-lipped bats.
Once the sun has set and the twilight hour begins, the bats begin to stream out of the cave forming a wave of cylindrical bodies to create a truly amazing spectacle.
It takes two hours for all the bats to fully exit the cave, although due to the continual loss in light, there is only 45 minutes in which the bats
are in full view and able to be photographed. The Khao Luk Chang Bat Cave
is another 45 minutes drive from the centre of the park unless you have access to a private vehicle, a tour is the best way to see it.
For more on Khao Yai National Park, visit www.thainationalparks.com.
There are a number of upcoming marathons happening throughout Thailand. Check out www.42race.com for marathon travel packages or email for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laguna Phuket Marathon (3-4 June)
Saturday (3 June) holds the 2km, 5km and 10.5km races, whereas Sunday
(4 June) will have the main marathon. The track covers a number of scenic locations such as pineapple plantations, local villages and beach sections.
Entries close on 28 May.
Samui Marathon 2017 (25 June)
The Koh Samui marathon is designed as a flat route to allow participants to view the different parts of the island not
commonly seen by tourists. There are 5, 10, 21 and 42km races to compete in, with registration closing on the 30 May.
Bangkok Marathon (19 November)
While the annual Bangkok Marathon will be held in November, there is an upcoming micro marathon on 23 July, covering only 6km. Registration for both races is open, with entries for the main
marathon closing on 30 August.
Bangkok has two international airports which are close to Khao Yai, with over 28 flights per day from Singapore. From Bangkok, there are a number of buses to Khao Yai; alternatively, you could hire a private van for the day. The trip from Bangkok can take anywhere from 2.5 – 3 hours. If you’re looking to spend a couple of days in and around the park, there are plenty of different accommodation options surrounding the outskirts, many of which can organise tours.
Visit sg.tourismthailand.org for more on Khao Yai National Park.