Tag Archives: khao yai

The Best National Parks in Thailand

If you love adventure, the outdoors, hiking and wildlife then consider heading to some of Thailand’s National Parks. This is, by no means, a full list of National Parks in Thailand but the most impressive ones I have been to so far and am still marvelling at the photos. Read on for the best National Parks in Thailand for waterfalls, swimming, beauty, nature and wildlife.

If you love wild animals then check out my advice on where and how to see wild elephants, whales, dolphins, whale sharks, turtles, sharks, monkeys and gibbons here…

Sai Yok National Park

Out of all the national parks in Thailand that I have been to lately, this is the most recent. You can go to Sai Yok waterfalls as part of a day trip from Bangkok or you can organise your own transport. The park is around 2 hours from Kanchanaburi town. It has an impressive waterfall, which was crowded when I was there but I believe it would generally be a quiet non-touristy area to visit in Thailand. For more quiet areas around Thailand, check out these off the beaten track beaches in Thailand. You can even stay overnight on floating bungalows in Sai Yok National Park.

Getting to Sai Yok National Park: I recommend a day trip from Bangkok. You can book with tour operators around Khao San Road

Sai Yok National Park entrance fee: free (at time of writing, Oct 2017)

National Park Thailand
Everybody’s chasing waterfalls…

 

Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

Found about 3-4 hours South of Bangkok in Prachuap Kiri Khan province, this stunning national park is home to 300 birds and the amazing Khao Sam Roi Yot mountains, meaning 300 peaks. I strongly recommend renting a scooter here and exploring all the different caves and viewpoints. It’s an excellent place to practise on a scooter if (like me…you’re kinda nervous/shit scared). About 10 cars will pass you throughout the whole day and the area is flat which is really great for confidence building! I stayed at the small, cute and fairly cheap Namaste Resort*, the owner June was very helpful with renting motorbikes and booking onward travel!

Visit Thailand National Parks Nature
Unseen Thailand: The Hike to Praya Nakhon Cave

Praya Nakhon cave is one of the most famous and has a small but striking blue temple inside an enormous cavern. The hole in the roof of the cave allows the light to filter down where trees and plants are now growing. To get here you can hike about 30 minutes to the beach, and then another 30 minutes after that or take a boat around to the beach if you want to limit your hiking time! The views from the hike are magnificent though!

 

Thailand National Parks Nature Caves
Discover Thailand’s Praya Nakhon Cave

Sam Phraya beach is found just inside the national park. While not a beach for swimming, it’s worth a photo stop of the colourful fishing boats and to marvel at just how far the tide goes out – it seemed like it was on the horizon!

Thailand National Park Nature Beaches
Phraya Nakhon Beach inside Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

Khao Daeng Viewpoint has been one of my favourite high up views in Thailand so far! It’s about a 30 minute hike up a fairly steep slope with rocks around, so I don’t recommend doing it in flipflops. The trail is only officially open from 8-3.30pm but some visitors risk it for a sunrise/sunset view but bring a flashlight! I went during the afternoon and had these impressive views of both the mountains and the ocean.

thailand national park nature
Khao Daeng Viewpoint of the 300 Peak Mountains ‘Khao Sam Roi Yot’

Getting to Khao Sam Roi Yot from Bangkok: Take a minivan from the Southern Bus terminal in Bangkok to Pranburi and then motorcycle taxi into Khao Sam Roi Yot.

Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park Entrance Fee: 200 baht for foreigners

Khao Yai National Park

This is one of my favourite areas of jungle to visit. Visit the various waterfalls, do the visitor trail near the visitor office, keep your eyes peeled and ears open to see macaque monkeys, gibbons and there is a high chance of elephants, particularly in rainy season (June-Oct). Remember wild elephants are extremely territorial and dangerous so do not get too close! They are best to see from the road side or from the look-out point near the lake. It’s a great place to stop and chill for lunch too!

Getting to Khao Yai National Park: You can take a minivan about two hours from Bangkok from Ekkamai bus station to Pak Chong. If you are confident on scooters then rent a motorcycle in Pak Chong and head into Khao Yai itself. I recommend taking a map from the visitor office while shows the waterfalls and camping grounds.

Khao Yai National Park Entrance Fee: 400 baht for foreigners

National Park Thailand
Khao Yai National Park – Amazing place for jungle trekking and wildlife

Camping in Khao Yai National Park: For the super adventurous, ask the visitor office about camping. For around 250 baht you can rent a tent at one of a couple of camp sites and stay the night. Bring your own food and drink as there are no shops available in the park. The entrance fee is expensive so I recommend staying inside the park to make the most of your money.

Tours of Khao Yai National Park: Alternatively take a guided tour with Greenleaf tours, they will collect you from Pak Chong and take you into the park in songtaew trucks. Tour includes trekking, guide, lunch and transport and lasts the whole day!

National Parks Thailand
I was lucky enough to spot three wild elephants in Khao Yai National Park. This was an lone adult male.

Khao Sok National Park

Another area of astounding beauty, this park is about two hours north of Krabi. From your  accommodation you can arrange trekking, wildlife spotting with a guide and an overnight stay on the beautiful floating bungalows on the lake, which is definitely worth it. You can rent kayaks and pootle around trying to spot monkeys, gibbons and even the odd elephant! (or so I’m told!). We saw fish eagles, dusky langur monkeys and gibbons on one of our boat trips around. If you want to visit I recommend arranging transport from Krabi and try booking into a treehouse! I usually use Agoda * for hotel bookings in Thailand.

Floating bungalows in Khao Sok National Park: arrange an overnight stay through your accommodation inside the park or from Krabi

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Kayaking in Khao Sok National Park after staying in floating bungalows on the lake

Doi Ithanon National Park

These mountains contain the highest peak in Thailand and they are the start of the foothills of the Himalayas. You can join a Doi Ithanon day tour from Chiang Mai which also includes waterfalls and a lunch stop. Book through a tour operator in Chiang Mai.

On a clear day you can see fairly far into the mountain ranges and the unusual temple pagodas are worth a look, like something out of Star Wars. The gardens are also stunning with so many different kinds of flowers and a riot of colour.

Thailand National Parks Nature
Gardens at the top of Doi Ithanon National Park, Thailand

Khao Lak National Park

I only visited an extremely small area of this but it’s worth it if you find yourself in Khao Lak for a couple of days as I am not a big fan of the town itself. If you take a short hike into the national park then you can stumble across golden sand hidden beaches with hardly anyone on them which is definitely worth it, in my opinion! There was a small entrance fee (I think around 40 baht). Most people are here as it is a jump off point for the dive sites around the Similan islands for divers or snorkelling trips to Koh Similan, one of Thailand’s most beautiful islands. 

Thailand National Park
Hiking around Khao Lak National Park, Thailand and waiting for the sunset

Erawan National Park

I’ve written about this place before but it is definitely worth a visit to see the impressive Erawan waterfalls – one of the best waterfalls in Thailand. You can spend the day hiking in the jungle and swimming in gorgeous blue pools of fresh cool water. The colours of the water appear bluer the higher you climb so be prepared to head up to the top most step, the 9th one. Bring your own food and water as there is little on offer here You will also find it quieter the higher up you go as the lower and closest steps are often full of local children playing! It’s about 45 minutes drive from Kanchanaburi town.

Erawan National Park entrance fee: 200-300 baht

Erawan National Park tour: book a day trip from Bangkok, many tour operators on Khao San road can offer this which also includes some history and museums in Kanchanaburi town first.

Thailand beautiful waterfall destination
Swimming in magical blue pools in the Erawan National Park

Don’t Forget to Take:

    • Insect Spray – National Parks in Thailand can be full of mosquitoes so make sure you take insect repellent with you. I recommend 50% DEET if you are prone to being bitten. Try this Repel DEET Pump Spray from Amazon
    • A practical bag – I’ve spent many a time faffing about with the wrong bag, it’s size or style and I’ve finally found that dry bags are the best way forward for any destinations in Thailand that will involve water or sand! Buy yours in all sorts of great colours from Amazon here: Water Proof Dry Bag
    • GoPro – I’m a total gopro convert and love making videos of all my trips! The colours come out really vibrant and as they are waterproof you don’t need to worry if it rains or goes in the sea. Buy yours from Amazon using this link: GoPro HERO4 BLACK I’m currently using the Gopro Hero 4 after my Entry Level Hero gave up the ghost in India (advice: they are not smash proof when dropped on a stone floor while ziplining!)

Book your travel to these amazing places here. Trains, buses, ferries and boats for Thailand and beyond…

For backpacking essentials that I actually use and are very practical check out my blog post here

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Visit Thailand: Explore beyond Bangkok

Most Thailand visitors find themselves in Bangkok at some point during their trip. I find many people have a love/hate relationship with Bangkok and it’s my mission to try to convert tourists to loving this crazy city that I call home! However, I understand Bangkok can be overwhelming and mental so here are some perfect day trips or weekend trips to escape the big bad city and explore more of Thailand.

Khao Yai National Park

Head into this jungle wilderness in one of Thailand’s oldest national parks. See wild elephants, monkeys, gibbons, snakes, porcupines, deer and many more while on a Greenleaf tour or rent motorbikes and head into the park yourself! 400 baht national park fee entrance. Camping overnight in the park is an option or stay in nearby Pak Chong. Minivans from Bangkok take about 2/3 hours.

Read here for more information about Thailand’s National Parks

Bangkok day trips
Get back to nature and spot wildlife in Khao Yai!
Koh Samet

Gorgeous white-sand beaches and lovely sunsets at Ao Prao beach. Go week days to avoid the crowds and be prepared to pay slightly more for accommodation than other islands. Take a minivan ride to Rayong and jump on a cheap ferry boat to Koh Samet. Spend the day lazing by the beach or swimming. I’ve stayed at some questionable accomadation on Koh Samet before but last time I stayed at the lovely Tubtim Resort, spacious wooden bungalows bang on the beach, with green lily pads growing everywhere.

Bangkok day trips
Koh Samet – Bangkok’s famous weekend trip island getaway
Lopburi

A few hours on the train from Bangkok (costing approximately 40 baht) you can find yourself in the ancient city of Lopburi, famous for its monkeys and temples. It’s all slightly off the tourist trail which might be a welcome sight for many. I recommend collecting a map of the different temples from the temple opposite the station and deciding on where to visit. All temples that I visited were walkable and there are certain ones that are home to huge families of macaques. Please be aware of not feeding the monkeys any food that is not natural for them. They also will grab your sunglasses or anything else in range so be careful. If you feel like renting a scooter then you can access the gorgeous sunflower fields (seasonal around November- January) and the Peacock temple is worth a visit as well. Along with the birds there is also a great viewpoint if you feel like some exercise up many stairs.

lopburi bangkok day trip

lopburi bangkok day trip
Monkeys in one of Lopburi’s temples
Whale Watching (seasonal Aug-Nov)

Only two hours from Bangkok, the enormous Bryde whales can be seen! Entering the Gulf of Thailand to feed on anchovies these gentle giants are incredible and one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in Thailand. Wildlife Encounters Thailand offer weekly trips for 2500 baht including transfer from Bangkok and lunch on the boat. An amazing day out!

For more about wildlife in Thailand, read this article

Bangkok day trips
A Bangkok day trip that was a whale of a time!

 

Koh Lan

One of my favourite weekend haunts, Koh Lan is an island just off of Pattaya. Cheap accommodation and a host of beautiful white sand beaches are there to welcome you. Jump in a songtaew (truck) or motorsi taxi for 20-30 baht and spend the day exploring lesser known beaches and taking in great views of the island! I really enjoyed my stay at this resort, it’s walkable to the pier.

Find out more about Thailand’s paradise islands and where to visit

Bangkok day trips
Monks on a beach in Koh Lan, Thailand. A lovely Bangkok weekend trip
Ayutthaya

A interesting and cultural Bangkok day trip. Head to this ancient temple town, one hour by train or minivan from Bangkok. Rent bicycles cheaply and enjoy cycling around and soaking in the culture of these ancient temples and a former capital of Siam. Don’t forget to try my favourite dessert roti sai mai – kinda like a rolled up candyfloss.

Bangkok day trips
The ideal cultural Bangkok day trip: explore the ruins of Ayutthaya
Kanchanaburi

Tourists come here to see the bridge over the River Kwai and understand more about the dark history of this area where prisoners of war were held by the Japanese during World War II. It is quite far for a Bangkok day trip but I have done it before in one day. I recommend staying one night though. Two hours by car/minivan or a little longer on the train.

Erawan Waterfall

You can combine this with a Bangkok day trip or overnight stay from Kanchanaburi. Visit these stunning, blue coloured waterfalls with 9 steps inside Erawan National Park. Around 45 minutes by car from Kanchanaburi, bring a picnic and spend the afternoon swimming in stunning pools, cliff jumping and getting back to nature.

Bangkok day trips
Bangkok Day trips: Swimming in blue waterfalls in Erawan National Park
Hua Hin

One of Bangkok’s nearest beaches and very big for kite surfing, this is definitely possible as a Bangok day trip or weekend stay. A large stretch of yellow sand beach for hanging out on and a wide range of accommodation is on offer here. Swimming is not always recommended as there are jellyfish lurking! Cha-am is another beach stop just before Hua Hin. You can take minivans or the train to either place from Bangkok.

Bangkok day trips
View of Hua Hin from Takiap Beach, a good Bangkok day trip or weekend visit.
Water Park

Water parks are a great Bangkok day trip and a fun day out. There are many both towards Pattaya or towards Hua Hin. I loved Splashdown, near Pattaya. It is more of an inflatable obstacle course, this brightly coloured water park will have you and your mates running around behaving like big kids, plus a few beers!

Bangkok day trips
Big Kids Day out in Splashdown – funnily enough no-one made it all the way across these giant floating obstacle courses!

Where are your favourite places for a Bangkok day trip? I’m always looking for more inspiration!