Top 9 National Parks in Thailand

There is a staggering amount of national parks within Thailand. There is also a host of marine parks. The landscape with all its diversity and richness paves the way for an unending tale of adventure. The first national park was established in 1962 – the incredible Khao Yai National Park. Since then, the development of national parks has been a steady initiative for the government. Today, there are over 140 national parks with around 30 in the process of creation. While you are sure will not have the time to explore them all while you’re here, the following may help you decide which direction to point your compass.

Morning Sunrise by zephythor

Entrance fees

Entrance fees for parks are a pretty standard THB 200 for foreigners around the entire country. As Thailand has an emerging economy where the locals are significantly less well-off than the tourists who visit, there is a dual-pricing structure in place. A couple of the national parks listed below cost THB 400, but this is the exception to the rule.

Facilities in NPs

Almost every national park will have modest camping facilities such as a fire pit and shared bathrooms with toilets and showers. Camping can cost as little as THB 50 baht with your own tent whereas renting a tent usually starts at about THB 250.

If you’re lucky, you can grab yourself a bungalow with a fan. Bungalows will usually cost around THB 800 a night and will be supremely more comfortable than a hostel or a campsite after a long day in the jungle. Lastly, airconditioned lodges will cost a minimum of THB 1000 for the night.

Any and all queries can be solved with the help of a friendly official the park headquarters. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance, Thai people are incredible helpful.

Top 10 best NPs in Thailand

1. Khao Sok National Park

Khao Sok is so intensely impressive, so unbelievably incredible that there is quite honestly very little point in reading these subsequent sentences. You should rather just quickly jot it down in your itinerary, check your budget, and start implementing whatever get-rich-quick scheme you have should the numbers look a little shady. Really, you must go. Ask your mom for a loan if you need to.

While limestone cliffs are not unique to the park and can actually be found in loads of other places in Thailand, there is something so special about those that tower over you here. As you sit on the small wooden bench of your long-tail boat, eyes-wide and mouth open, corner after corner, the views just seem to get better.

There is so much happening in Khao Sok. When your eyes can no longer deal with the limestone cliffs, take a walk through a 1.5 million-year-old rainforest with trees impossibly high, and leaves impossibly green. Waterfalls are scattered throughout the dense forest and hiking trails slowly wind their way through the trees. Go on overnight treks, take a memorable picture in front of the casts at Rajjaprabha dam, explore looming limestone caves, discover the jungle and lake, and don’t sleep, don’t ever sleep – there just isn’t enough time for that.

Getting to the park is not the quickest thing when you’re heading through from the North. To save yourself much time and energy, be sure to fly through to Surathani, and take a bus from there. Coming through from anywhere in the South won’t take longer than six hours by minivan and will set you back a couple of hundred baht. Head to the Khao Sok National Park HQ, from there you’ll head to your accommodation, either within, or nearby the park. Entrance into the park is THB 300 baht per adult, and THB 150 for children.

2. Erawan National Park

Just a few hours away from the bustling, colourful streets of Bangkok is this surreal patch of land. Azul water cascades down the many steps and levels of the Erawan waterfall and the verdant forest frames each scene in an enveloping mass. Hop into one of the several rock pools and float peacefully amidst the tranquillity of it all. Of course, there may be a few other tourists trying to do the same, but you can make friends! This mystical place makes for some pretty memorable photographs, so be sure to bring your camera along.

The park is about two hours away from Bangkok. Entrance to the park is THB 300.

3. Khao Yai National Park

Calling all those with ADD, inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and childlike wonder for the little things. Rejoice and give thanks for the wonder that is the Khao Yai National Park.

This park is Thailand’s first ever national park, and with good reason. The waterfalls within the park are absolutely astounding. A good capture of a waterfall like this and you may just get a job proposal from National Geographic. Alternatively, you could leave your camera, and allow yourself to be mesmerised by the intense beauty.

There are two waterfalls that you need to make your way to. The first, Haew Narok, is very powerful, and the second, Haew Suwat, is incredible ethereal and quite unbelievable. Pack a picnic and head on through to soak in the magic.

Move swiftly onto a hike to the stunning viewpoint from the Pa Deo Die Cliffs. Feel tiny, have a sip of water, and head back down. Keep your eye open for wild elephants! Listen closely for gibbons, and keep your peepers peeled for a sighting of some rare bird species, too!

Entrance to the park is THB 400 per person. Getting to the park is easy enough with either a minibus or a taxi – expect to pay between THB 150 – THB 200 for a bus ticket. The trip will take around two to three hours. Once you’re in Pak Chong, your best bet for freedom of movement is to rent a scooter and explore the unknown and foreign roads yourself.

4. Kaeng Krachan National Park

Wildlife lovers, this is your spot! Leopards, pigmy elephants and a staggering number of rare and beautiful birds roam the dense, mystical, and sometimes eerie mountains of Kaeng Krachan NP.

Bring your camera, sunscreen, hiking boots, and your strongest, most resilient and optimistic attitude – the dense forest and its paths require some grit.

Spare several days in your itinerary for the park, it is too much to take in in one day. Check out the caves, waterfalls, dams and viewpoints. Bring a good book and lots of mosquito spray too. Embark into the near impenetrable abyss and get lost in the magic of it all.

The park is located in west-central Thailand, a few hours from Bangkok. Hop into a minibus and you’ll be there for under THB 200. Entrance fee per person is THB 400 – well worth the adventures that’ll surely follow.

5. Kui Buri National Park

If you’re looking for an authentic, ethical and brilliant encounter with an elephant, this is where you need to be. The Kui Buri park is virtually untouched, expansive, and raw. Comprised of little more than trees, leaves, caves and mush beneath your feet, this is a haven for animals of all kinds. Go on treks with guides or go on safaris in a vehicle. The prices are very affordable and the guides are very knowledgeable. With a near guaranteed sighting of an elephant, be sure to keep your eyes scanning the spaces between the leaves for Gaurs, leopards, jackals, deers, and many bird species.

The park is near to Hua Hin, around 30km. A short minivan trip from here will cost you less than THB 150 baht and entrance into the park is THB 200 a head.

6. Doi Suthep-Pui National Park

Chiang Mai is filled with dozens of hiking opportunities to remote viewpoints, fantastic waterfalls and through landscapes somewhat unique to those ordinarily found in Thailand. The Doi Suthep-Pui National Park is no different in this regard. Waterfall junkies and hiking enthusiasts will find themselves very comfortable here. Split your attention, time and energy between the three dazzling waterfalls, the impressive Doi Suthep Peak, and the beautiful temple closeby. Try and squeeze in the Pong Dueat hot springs too.

The park is about an hour outside of Chiang Mai and entrance to the park will set you back THB 200.

7. Khao Luang National Park

Khao Luang is a good park to visit should you be in the southern parts of Thailand. The park has several waterfalls spread across it with rockpools at each of its levels. There is no need for a guide on these waterfalls. Grab your backpack, some snacks for the day, and go traipsing into the depths of the jungle. Keep your eyes open for some fantastic birdlife, and some especially friendly, almost drunk butterflies.

The park is easily accessible and can even be reached on a motorbike from Surathani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, or Khanom. Getting there on a bike will take between one and two hours, depending on where you’re coming from. Entrance to the park is THB 200.

8. Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

Khao Sam Roi Yot translates to “The mountain with three hundred peaks”. Wow, what a way to capture your interest. This park will do much more than that though, and will surely astound you with the ethereal views and boggling diversity. Within the confines of the park, there is a postcard quality untouched beach, a Microsoft wallpaper kind of scene of a freshwater marshland, and a stunning and emotive cave with a royal pavilion. All this and a backdrop of a majestic mountain range.

This park is for the adventurous, those who can’t stop moving, and those who don’t care where they sleep because they’re never inside. Photographers won’t be displeased about a stay here either! Soak in the views and the sounds of the animals for at least a few days before you say your goodbyes.

The park is very near to Kui Buri National Park in the Prachuap Khiri Khan district. Hop on a minivan, pay around THB 200 for the trip, and THB 200 for your entrance into the park.

9. The Mae Wong National Park

The last of the parks to be mentioned here is one for those who crave immersion in the moment. It is for those who want to get away from the noise outside and inside of their own mind. The Mae Wong National Park has no real signs of civilisation. It is a mountain range for the experienced hiker. Massive cliffs, majestic waterfalls and one truly beautiful viewpoint from the peak of Khao Mokoju, characterise the parks nature. Come here prepared to work for your experiences!

The park is on the Western edge of the country in the Kamphaeng Phet province. There is no public transport to the park. Hire your own wheels in Kamphaeng Phet and make your way there by going past Khlong Lan Waterfall – the road ends when you arrive at the gates of the park. Entrance to the park is THB 200 per person.

Top tips for visiting NPs in Thailand

Making trips to the parks can turn into a costly affair if you are not prepared. Within the confines of the park, food may be hard to come by. If there are stores, the prices are sure to be higher than places outside the park. Pack snacks and dry food that doesn’t require refrigeration. Even if you plan on eating some meals at restaurants within the park, you’ll regret not having that packet of crisps when you’re in the middle of the jungle and hours away from dinner. Bring mosquito repellent. Bring lots.

Most of the parks have pretty fantastic accommodation within them, however, you will pay a premium for this luxury. Accommodations nearby the park will be substantially cheaper. Consider whether leaving and coming into the park each day is worth the trouble. If you want to stay in the park, book well in advance. Seeing as the lodgings can be pretty darn incredible, they won’t be around for long in high-season.

If you can, avoid going on weekends. Thai locals are wonderful at utilising and celebrating the natural marvels around them. Your tour won’t have the same sense of wonder when you’re one of the many on it.

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