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One of the best places to visit from Bangkok and experience nature and the jungle in Thailand is Khao Yai National Park. Situated about 2 hours North-East of Bangkok it is a great place to go for a weekend getaway from Bangkok. Khao Yai National Park is the oldest national park in Thailand, and one of the greatest. Home to a healthy population of wild elephants as well as hornbills, snakes, eagles, gibbons, macaques and deer, it is a fantastic place to visit for wildlife lovers.
How to Visit Khao Yai National Park
Visitors have two options when visiting Khao Yai National Park. Entering the park using your own transport or joining a wildlife tour which includes a hotel pick up. Using your own transport such as a car or motorbikes is great for people who enjoy freedom and travelling separately. However, if you want to see a lot of wildlife and be shown interesting species of flora and fauna then I recommend taking a wildlife tour.
Khao Yai Things to Do
Bear in mind that Khao Yai is a whole area so there are other activities, outside of the national park to enjoy such as wine tours in a Khao Yai winery, strawberry picking, organic farms and many restaurants.
Wildlife Tours of Khao Yai National Park
I thoroughly recommend Greenleaf Tours of Khao Yai National Park. They have fantastic, really knowledgeable guides who share their wisdom about nature with you. The Greenleaf tour includes a hotel pick up and drop off, transport during the day, lunch in the park and a hike inside jungle areas for a couple of hours. They can also do private tours which I have also done before when my parents visited Thailand and we didn’t want to do so much jungle trekking in Khao Yai. You can contact them via the Greenleaf Tours website here.
Greenleaf Wildlife Tours
Be sure to ask Greenleaf Khao Yai tours about the bat cave Khao Yai viewing experience. You can go in the evening before your day trip into the park and it is definitely worth it! You can experience millions of bats flying out of their cave at sunset on nearby mountains which is a really magical experience.
Khao Yai National Park Animals
Along with wild elephants you can regularly see gibbons, hornbills, eagles, snakes, spiders, monkeys and deer while trekking in Khao Yai National Park.
For a close up experience of animals, consider visiting this amazing rescue centre for an ethical way to feed elephants and other animals.
Wild elephants at Khao Yai National Park
The best place to see wild elephants in Thailand is in this park. If you would like the best ethical elephant experience then nothing beats seeing elephants in Thailand in the wild where they truly belong. Seeing wild elephants in Thailand is incredible and you have a really good chance of seeing elephants in Khao Yai National Park. Wild elephants in Khao Yai is one of the best bucketlist Thailand experiences you can have. Read here for more Thailand bucketlist experiences.
Camping in Khao Yai
The only places to go camping inside Khao Yai National Park are through the national park. At a very cheap rate you can hire tents, sleeping bags, mats and pillows and camp at designated campsites inside the park. Please note it is best to have your own transport when doing this. There is no need to book in advance, you can just ask at the visitor centre.
Where to Stay in Khao Yai
For Khao Yai National Park accommodation, the only way to stay inside the actual park is to enjoy Khao Yai camping. All other accommodation is strung out along the road into the park which has a range of different tiers of accommodation from budget to luxury hotels in Khao Yai.
Khao Yai Accommodation : Budget Hotels
There are some hostels and guesthouses nearby to the park. If doing a tour with Greenleaf they also offer some basic accommodation. I recommend Wynnhouse Khao Yai (Book it on Agoda here) for a cheap, clean double room about 20 minutes from the park entrance.
Khao Yai Accommodation : Mid-range Accommodation
For Khao Yai mid-range accommodation I would recommend Botanica (Check out prices for Botanica Khao Yai on Agoda) or alternatively on Booking.com). They have a luscious pool area, great views of the mountains and lovely big rooms with balconies.
Khao Yai Accommodation : Luxury Accommodation near Khao Yai
Khao Yai has a lot of luxury accommodation, some of it further from the park itself so be sure to look into travel times. Compare prices on Agoda for luxury hotels such as the Movenpick here.
When to visit Khao Yai
The best time of year to visit Khao Yai National Park is during dry season. There are no leeches around so no need to wear leech socks and you have a better chance of spotting wildlife such as wild elephants in Thailand as they come out of the deeper jungle to use the watering holes and lakes. Dry season in this area is from November-April with April being the hottest month.
Getting to Khao Yai
To get from Bangkok to Khao Yai, you can take a minivan from Ekkamai to Pak Chong. Some hotels will then offer a transfer from Pak Chong to their accommodation. If you are camping in Khao Yai National Park then rent your own transport in Pak Chong such as motorbikes and head into the park. You can book all transport in Thailand with websites like 12go Asia. Finding out timings of minivans is difficult to do in advance unless you speak Thai so I recommend using a booking website. The commission they take is usually minimal.
Khao Yai National Park Entrance Fees
Like all national parks in Thailand, there is a national park fee. At the time of writing it is 400 baht for foreign visitors, including work permit holders. In the past work permit holders in Thailand could pay Thai price for national park fees but that is no longer possible. Please note park fees are subject to change at any time.
Bangkok to Khao Yai
To get to Khao Yai from Bangkok, it takes approximately two hours. You can hire your own transport to take you there or take a minivan from Ekkamai bus station. This makes Khao Yai the perfect weekend getaway from Bangkok.