Located in Central Thailand at the southern end of the Korat Plateau, Khao Yai is just one of the many great travel destinations for motorcycle tourists in Thailand. Only 160km from Bangkok, the National Park is easily accessible for those wishing to do a day trip or spend the weekend riding and exploring waterfalls, hiking trails and watching wildlife. Popular with Thais and foreigners alike it is not uncommon to see groups of people riding through the park eating up the winding roads from the north gate entrance in Nakhon Ratchasima to the south gate in Prachinburi.
Upon entering the park you will notice the lush foliage and cooler temperature followed by the amazing views of grassy fields and great expanses of untamed, open space. Every time I pass through the gates and into the park I find myself with a grin from ear to ear. Combined with the great views, the well maintained roads twisting through the forest are enough to make anyone want to come back.
If hiking and exploring the wild interests you, there are more than enough things to keep you busy. There are many tour companies offering guided trips for rafting, bird watching , horseback riding and ATV trips. Camping is also permitted in the park in designated camping areas and tents are available for rent at reasonable prices. While you are there you may want to visit the numerous natural wonders. Below are a few places that are worth experiencing on your trip to Khao Yai:
· Haew Narok Waterfall – This is one of the largest waterfalls in the park. This waterfall has three tiers extending 150m from beginning to end and is located approximately 10km from the south gate on the central road through the park.
· Haew Suwat Waterfalls –20m high and flowing into a large pool at its base, this waterfall is 8km east of the visitor center and can be reached by car or on foot. Great place to go swimming and cool off a bit after exploring.
· Haew Sai Waterfall – Located 700m from Haew Suwat Waterfall and can be reached by hiking. It is smaller but just as beautiful and not as popular so if you like to enjoy the wilderness without kids screaming and swimming around you it may be a better choice.
· Klong Pa Kong Wang Haew – This trek will take you see dinosaur footprints that have been preserved through the ages
· Bird Watching at Sakaerat – Come here to see many types of animals and birds including partridges, pheasants, parakeets, kingfishers, hornbills or the greater racket-tailed drongo.
· Monkeys throughout the park – The most common animal and the one you are most likely to see in the park are the many species of monkeys wandering around, on or near the road.
Just outside there is enough to keep busy at night as well. I would have to say that Pak Chong, the town at the entrance to the north side of the park is far from the crazy night life of Bangkok. However there are plenty of restaurants to enjoy some local Thai food and desserts. See two recommendations below:
Eats and Fun
· Chokchai Farms – This is an old west ranch style farm serving steaks from animals raised on location. Very popular with the locals and I can tell you from firsthand experience that after a long ride through the park its definitely worth stopping by.
· Krua Rim Kuen – Overlooking Lam Phra Ploeng Reservoir Krua Rim Thai is an open air restaurant serving local favorites from local ingredients raised or grown near Khao Yai.
And last but certainly not least for those of you who are making a multiple day trip you will need somewhere to stay. If you ask me, my advice would be to grab a tent and some camp gear available at the visitor centre and head to the camping area to enjoy an outdoor dinner and a campfire. But then again I’m sure a lot of you would rather have a nice bed and probably a TV so in that case check out http://www.kaoyai.info/eng/hotels.html. They are the most accurate and up to date listing that I have found so far.