Haew Suwat Waterfall in the Khao Yai National Park

Khao Yai National Park – The First National Park of Thailand

This post was last updated on February 17th, 2020 at 02:04 pm


Khao Yai National Park is located in the thickly wooded Phanom Dangkrek Mountains. It is the first National Park of Thailand and also one of the most popular. In the park you will find various (wild) animals, an abundance of waterfalls, and possibilities for beautiful hiking trips. It is not for nothing that the Khao Yai National Park is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

 

Khao Yai – A Get Away From Bangkok

Khao Yai National Park is about 120 kilometers (74.5 miles) from Bangkok and is, therefore, fairly easy to visit. Because of this, not only tourists come here; many locals from the Bangkok region come to the park to escape the bustle of the city.

 

Some even have a second home here, while others come for fun activities such as horse riding, golfing, or quad biking. You can also spend the night in the park yourself. This is possible in a luxury accommodation but you can also camp here. Camping is something many locals also do here.

 

An organized day trip with guide from Khao Yai to the park will cost you around 1,300 to 1,900 baht (US $42 to $61.45) per person.

 

Khao Yai is the most visited national park of Thailand. And with the largest “collection” of intact monsoon forests in Asia, that’s no surprise. In addition to the forests you will also find elephants, tigers, leopards, bears, deer, pythons, and gibbons (monkeys). In addition, there are around 400 species of birds.

 

Sunset on a lake with a forest in the background
A sunset on one of the lakes in the Khao Yai National Park

 

Things to Do in Khao Yai National Park

The park is fairly easy to discover yourself. There are many hiking trails and signs that show you the way. However, to see the most beautiful caves and waterfalls, it is better to book a tour as they are quite far apart. Whatever you do, at least try to visit the following sights in the park.

 

1. Visit the Many Waterfalls

Khao Yai National Park is home to quite a few waterfalls. Immediately upon entering you will already find the small Nam Tok Kong Kaew waterfall. However, this is only the beginning. If you walk further you will find the Nam Tok Haew Narok waterfall.

 

This is immediately the largest waterfall in the park with a drop of around 150 meters and several layers.

 

TIP – The most beautiful waterfall is the Nam Tok Haew Suwat. It is impressive all year round and not just in the rainy season.

 

Waterfall with lake and green trees around it
The impressive Haew Narok waterfall

 

2. Try to Spot Wild Animals

The park also houses a number of animals like elephants and monkeys. The Nong Phak Chi Observation Tower is a beautiful place to spot the animals. If you are at the campsite (you can camp here!) you can also come across deer in the early morning.

 

Wild deer in the water in the Khao Yai National Park
Spotting some wild deer in the water

 

TIP – Try to avoid the weekend and the holidays because it gets pretty busy here.

 

3. Go for a Walk Through the Park

The best way to discover the park is to take a hike or walk. There are various paths throughout the park that you can follow, varying from a few hundred meters to a few kilometers.

 

If you want to look at the Nam Tok Haew Suwat follow the Kong Kawe-Haew Suwat Trail. This is an 8-kilometer (5 miles) path that will take you to the waterfall within four to five hours.

 

Pathway through the grasslands in the park
Pathway through the grasslands in the park

 

4. Book an Organized Tour

There are many organized tours to book to this park. With a tour you learn much more about the park, nature, and animals than when you go on your own. Tours range from one day tours to several days on a wildlife safari. If you want to see beautiful nature and want to spot the animals, we recommend booking an organized tour. A day tour can cost up to 1,600 baht (US $51.70) p.p. A 2-day tour can cost up to 3,300 baht (US $106.70) p.p.

 

TIP – Check out Thailand National Parks for more information about tours.

 

Poachers

The park is not under threat, but rangers recommend not going outside the boundaries of the park. It is possible for poachers to show up here and they can be dangerous. They are looking for sandalwood oil which is found by cutting into certain trees. The oil sells for between 20,000 and 40,000 Baht per kilo (US$1000).

 

How to Get to the Khao Yai National Park

The park is easily accessible. The easiest way is to catch a bus from Bangkok or book a minivan. They are usually a bit faster.

 

To Khao Yai by Bus

Buses run from Bangkok to Khao Yai. This will cost you around 130 baht (US $4.20) and it will take you 3 hours. Buses also run from Khorat which will cost you 60 baht (US $1.95) and it will take you 1.5 hours.

 

To Khao Yai by Minivan

You can also book minivans to the Khao Yai National Park. A minivan from Bangkok will cost you around 180 baht (US $5.80) and it will take you 2.5 hours, so it’s a lot faster. From Khorat a minivan costs 100 baht (US $3.25) and it takes 2.5 hours. You can also come here from Ayutthaya which costs you 100 baht (US $3.25) and takes 2.5 hours.

 

Deer lying in the grass looking to the side
The animals can’t wait to see you 😉

 

Best Time to Visit Khao Yai

You can visit Khao Yai all year round, but keep in mind that the rainy season can make the paths slippery and muddy. The rainy season runs from May to October. The big advantage of the rainy season is that the falls are at their best. If you want to see waterfalls, this is the best time.

 

The “cold season” runs from November to February with clear and sunny days. This is the ideal season for walkers. The warm season runs from March to April. It is humid with daily temperatures of 20 to 30 degrees Celsius (68°F to 86°F).

 

The warm season is not the best time to spot waterfalls due to the little rainfall.

 

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