Wild About… Khao Yai National Park

Monkey at Khao Yai, Photo by Kit Johnson

Wild About… Khao Yai National Park

[pullquote]Aren’t we all ‘Wild About…‘ something?[/pullquote]

Khao Yai National Park in Thailand is one place that is not on the radar of most when tourists come to this popular Southeast nation.

Before I left for Thailand I watched the movie The Bridge over River Kwai. With scenes that showed friendly people, lush jungles, and a rich diversity of plant and animal life the movie epitomized why I wanted to come to Thailand.

Haeo Suwat Waterfall

Haeo Suwat Waterfall, photo by Chris Huh on Wikipedia

After a month in the country I visited some cool outdoor places, but I did not feel I had been to an actual jungle. I had visited Chiang Mai, Doi Inthanon National Park, and a National Park along the Myanmar border. These places were nice and some impressive waterfalls were enjoyed, but I had not seen the bird and animal life I had expected.

This changed dramatically at Khao Yai. The park ranger drove me to the campground and along a back road we came across a 6 foot monitor lizard that scurried off into a swamp. We continued and saw deer, monkeys, and flocks of birds. The ranger suggested after I put my tent up that I walk along this road around dusk.

Monkey at Khao Yai, Photo by Kit Johnson


I set up camp and went for a walk. The area teamed with wildlife as animals emerged from the jungle to forage for food. Deer were everywhere, a down tree housed a family of monkeys, and a flock of hornbills flew from tree to tree. This was the Thailand that I longed for and finally found.

A flash of orange caught my attention in the distance. Khao Yai supposedly is the home to 25-30 tigers. Could I be so lucky and see this elusive beast in my first night in their habitat. It turned out to be three wild dogs that crossed the road and took off into the distance.

Khao Yai, Photo by Kit Johnson

I asked two guides and a ranger if they had ever seen a tiger. All three responded in the negative and collectively they had worked twenty years inside the park. This news disturbed me. I have read some reports that caste doubt to whether there are any tigers left in Khao Yai. The disappearance of the tiger from Khao Yai is symbolic of the alarming rate that they are disappearing worldwide. If the poaching problem related to the medicinal need for tiger parts cannot be contained, then our world will soon be bereft of this beautiful wild creature.


To get to Khao Yai from Bangkok take a bus from the Mo Chit bus station to Pak Chong. In front of the 7-11 in Pak Chong trucks shuttle visitors to the gates. The only way to the campground is either to arrange a ride in advance from a tour agency, arrange for a park ranger to pick you up, or one can hitchhike. The park has a nice campground with two outdoor restaurants and they rent inexpensive camping gear. The park office has guides for those that want to hike with a local expert.


Ted-NelsonTed Nelson has been adventure traveling for 30 years kayaking, canoeing, hiking, and skiing locally near Chicago, Illinois and across the United States. He also loves to explore different cultures and his worldwide travels have taken him across Europe, Southeast Asia, and to Venezuela.

Check out his blog at Traveling Ted, follow him on facebook and/or twitter

  • Tikky
    Posted at 03:04h, 24 August Reply

    My husband and I usually visit Khao Yai every month. It’s about 1 hour 30 mins in good traffic from Bangkok, 5-10 hours during the holidays!

    Despite other destinations here, beeches etc, Khao Yai, for the moment is a breath of fresh air. Let’s hope it stays that way.

  • Leigh
    Posted at 17:05h, 25 May Reply

    Love the post. I never think of Thailand in terms of nature – probably because I’ve only nighted over in Bangkok but this post inspires me to want to see the out of the way places.

  • Brendan van Son
    Posted at 19:14h, 10 May Reply

    Cool post. I’ll be honest in saying that nothing about traveling to Thailand has ever really jumped out at me. But this place makes me want to visit, I love the wildlife. Good post.

  • Dave and Deb
    Posted at 15:57h, 05 May Reply

    We haven’t been to Khao Yai yet either. Next time we are in Thailand we will definitely check it out. It is very sad news about the Tiger. While we were in India last year there was a campaign from WWF about how the tiger population is dwindling. There are only around 12,000 left in India and while we were at Ranthambore NP, two tiger cubs were poisoned. I don’t know how this problem will be solved before it is too late.

    • waitinginthedark
      Posted at 16:19h, 05 May Reply

      Unfortunately it seems there’s not much we can do to protect the animals at a risk of extinction in the near future. Tigers, whales, rhino and many more. I can’t believe how the mankind can destroy the beauty of our planet with such an ease…

  • Ted Nelson
    Posted at 19:21h, 04 May Reply

    Honored to be featured on the Wild About travel series. Thanks for having me Simon.

  • Jeremy B
    Posted at 17:56h, 04 May Reply

    Awesome post by Ted! I knew I had read about Khao Yai before but now that I see it was Ted who guest posted, it makes sense! Beautiful area and wildlife – too bad that the tiger is disappearing!

  • Juno
    Posted at 11:57h, 04 May Reply

    Yes this is the part I want to explore in Thailand. I have to say, you were lucky not to encounter with the tiger!!
    Nice ‘Wild about’ series, once again!

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