Khao Yai National Park
The park, which covers an area of 2,168 square kilometers in the Phanom Dong Rak mountain range, stretches over 4 provinces including Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Nayok, Saraburi, and Prachin Buri. Khao Yai became Thailands first national park on 18th September 1962 and is also originally recognized as the National Park Heritage of Asian Group Countries.
The park is comprised of mixed forests and rainforests with some wide plains and grasslands interspersed with verdant forests. There are many valuable plants, including commercial plants, scented plants and herbs. In addition, there are several mountains with peaks ranging from 800 to 3,000 meters above sea level making Khao Yai a cool climate area, even in summer.
The most popular time to visit Khao Yai is during the cool season or from October to February. In the rainy season, the area is refreshingly green with overflowing waterfalls, sending echoes all around.
Popular activities in the park include butterfly and bird watching, animal watching and trekking. The Park has numerous butterflies and birds as surveys indicate that over 293 species of birds use Khao Yai as a feeding ground while Khao Yai is the habitat of over 200 species. In addition, the park is home to an abundance of wildlife. The most frequently spotted animal is the deer that grazes on grass plains and sometimes come to be fed around the park office. Other animals spotted include elephants, sun bears, wild boars, monkeys, tigers, gaurs, and mountain goats. To facilitate animal watching the park built 2 wildlife watchtowers at Mo Singto and Nong Phak Chi. Visitors are allowed up there between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. In addition, those who want to go on a night safari by car must contact the park office before 6 p.m. Moreover, Khao Yai has over 20 trekking trails for visitors to choose from, each different in natural beauty and distance. While some trails like the Kong Kaeo trail and the Kilometer 33 trail (Thanarat Road-Nong Phak Chi) take 1-2 hours to complete, other trails like the Nang Rong-Khao Yai trail, Samo Pun trail or Kho Yo 4 Unit-Wang Heo waterfall trail require overnight stays. Information and guides can be obtained from the tourist service centre.
Places of Interest in the Park:
Kong Kaeol Waterfall (Namtok Kong Kaeol)
This is a low waterfall, which is especially lovely in the rainy season originated from Huay Lam Takhong that divides Nakhon Nayok and Nakhon Ratchasima Provinces. The waterfall can be reached by a walking distance of 100 meters from the tourist service center. Visitors can enjoy swimming at the waterfall or taking short nature trips on nearby nature trails.
Pha Kluai Mai Waterfall (Namtok Pha Kluai Mai)
This is a medium-sized waterfall in Huay Lam Takhong with two separate bodies of water flowing down rock levels to merge at the bottom. In the area visitors can find the Red Dendrobium orchid that is the symbol of the waterfall. The waterfall is about 7 kilometers from the park office and can be reached by car and on foot. In addition, there is a trail from the waterfall that leads to Heo Suwat Waterfall.
Heo Suwat Waterfall (Namtok Heo Suwat)
This is a famous waterfall that cascades from a 20-meters high cliff. The waterfall, which is located at the end of Thanarat Road and being accessible by car, is only 100 meters by foot from the parking lot or a 3-kilometer walk from Pha Kluai Mai Waterfall. Visitors can view the falls from a distant viewpoint that offers a high-angle view of the waterfall through the trees or from the waterfall itself. However, please note that in the rainy season the water flows rapidly and caution should be taken.
Heo Narok Waterfall (Namtok Heo Narok)
This is the largest and highest waterfall in the park with 3 levels. The first level is about 60 meters high and water from this level flows straight down to the second and third levels, with a total drop of at least 150 meters. The water has considerable strength in the rainy season and is quite dangerous, but refreshing, when it comes splashing down on rocks at the bottom. The area around the waterfall is the usual feeding grounds of wild elephants. There have been occasional accidents when elephants drop from the cliff and die. For a beautiful view of the waterfall, visitors can walk 1 kilometer from the main road to a viewpoint. The waterfall itself is located to the south of the Park Office on the way to Prachin Buri.
There are also other lesser waterfalls in the park like Namtok Mai Plon, Namtok Heo Sai and Namtok Heo Prathul. For more information, contact the Parks tourist service centre.
Traveling to the Park
Khao Yai National Park is only about 205 kilometers from Bangkok. There are 2 ways of getting there; from the 56 kilometer marker of Mitraparp Highway, turn onto Thanarat Road and proceed for approximately 23 kilometers or at Hin Kong intersection, turn onto Highway No. 33 (Nakhon Nayok-Prachin Buri) and proceed to the Noen Hom intersection and take Highway No. 3077 to the park. The second route is rather steep and is more suitable for the return trip.
If traveling by bus, get off at Amphoe Pak Chong and continue on a mini-bus up to the gate of Khao Yai National Park. The fare is 15 baht and services are provided between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. From there, visitors should flag a passing car to the park office or rent a car directly from Pak Chong.
Notice: Due to over capacity and protect the environment of Khao Yai National Park, Royal Forest Department has announced to limit the number of visitors since July 1,2008 , therefore visitors should inquire Khao Yai National Park directly before travelling at tel. 08 1877 3127 , 08 6092 6531 which operate 24 hrs. or visit website www.dnp.go.th
Admission fee : Adult 400 baht and Child 200 baht (If only visiting the area from Nern Hom checkpoint to San Chao Pho Check point, the admission fee is adult 200 baht and child 100 baht) and the fee of one car is 50 baht.
There is a campsite at Pha Kluai Mai that can accommodate up to 1,000 visitors. The fee is 10 baht for children and 20 baht for adults per night. There is a restaurant and tents and sleeping bags for rent. Moreover, there are 2 more service areas at Kong Kaeo and Yaowachon that can accommodate up to 250 tourists. The fee is 30 baht each, though sleeping gear is not provided. Visitors can obtain permission from the park before 6 p.m. For more information, call the National Parks Division, Royal Forest Department, Tel. (66) 2579-7223 and (66) 2579-5734, or contact the Park Office at P.O. Box 9, Amphoe Pak Chong, Nakhon Ratchasima 30130.