In a nutshell
Most popular for its close proximity to the stunning and famous Khao Yai National Park, Pak Chong is home to an abundance of hidden gems that frequently captivate the hearts of adventurous locals and travellers alike. This city in the Nakhon Ratchasima Province of Thailand is a unique blend of Thai nature at its most untouched, as well as the usual charm of any typical Thai city.
Why go to Pak Chong
Attr: Keng Susumpow (cc by)
Aside from Pak Chong being a gateway destination for those who wish to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Khao Yai National Park, there are several reasons for travellers to venture to this neck of the woods. In the Khao Yai Park itself, fauna and flora enthusiasts can delight in jungle trekking, safaris, waterfall chasing, birding and even elephant sighting.
Other Pak Chong attractions include wine tastings at the local wineries, such as the GranMonte Vineyard and the famous PB Valley Khao Yai Winery. Thailand’s wine culture is on the sudden upward swing and visitors would do well to spend an afternoon frolicking amongst the picturesque vineyards and sampling the local vino.
For visitors interested in Thai farming culture, Pak Chong is also home to a delightful smattering of beautiful crop farms and dairy farms. Be sure to check out Farm Chokchai, Suwan Farm, Panorama Farm and Farm Mor Por. The farms are not only a great way to experience the rural side of Thai life, but also offer guests insight and information into Thailand’s long-standing farming culture.
Another rather fun and unusual attraction in Pak Chong is a visit to the “Little Italy of Thailand” – Palio Khao Yai. This Italian-themed shopping centre in the heart of Thailand’s wine country is an entertaining way to spend an afternoon snapping photographs, engaging in some retail therapy and dining on tasty Italian fare.
When to go to Pak Chong
Fortunately the average temperature in Pak Chong varies only slightly making this scenic city a year-round destination. The best time to visit Pak Chong would probably be from November until February as these months are generally the driest with more moderate temperatures. For visitors who are looking to explore Pak Chong during the hottest months, be sure to book your tickets for April, May or June.
Where to stay in Pak Chong
Accommodation in Pak Chong offers a surprisingly amount of variety for its guests and visitors can choose from the classic-style accommodation options, such as guesthouses, lodges, resorts, budget, boutique and luxury hotels; as well as several beautiful Italian-style accommodation options in some of the Italian-themed villages; and lastly visitors can also opt to stay in a condominium should they wish.
Out of the more classic accommodation options in Pak Chong our personal favourites would have to include Greenleaf Guesthouse, Khirirom Resort and Muthi Maya Forest Pool Villa Resort, depending on your budget and accommodation needs.
Greenleaf Guesthouse is a great affordable option for travellers who are looking to stretch their baht without skimping on comfort. Simple fan-rooms are the order of the day and with the onsite restaurant serving up local grub and a peaceful garden you really can’t go wrong at THB 300 a night.
For travellers looking for a little more luxury, Khirirom Resort with its gorgeous swimming pool, fitness centre, nearby golf course and seminar room, is an excellent choice for those travelling for business or those travelling for pleasure. Room rates start at THB 1,200 but can climb to THB 12,000 for a night depending on the facilities of the chosen room.
Heading into first-class luxury is the superb Muthi Maya Forest Pool Villa Resort. The luxurious private villas with their own pool, open-air sala and garden are something straight out of a dream. Perfect for honeymooners or travellers with generous budgets, facilities at this resort include a fine-dining Italian restaurant, personal butlers, a private golf course, beauty spa, personal in-room dining and a swimming pool. Room rates start at a rather pricy THB 26,000 a night.
For those with a preference for Italian architecture, the many Italian-style accommodations in Pak Chong are the ideal choice. Tub Tao Farm Stay, Palio Inn and PB Valley Resort are our top favourites for those longing to convince themselves that they are lost somewhere in Italy or for those craving a stay with a difference.
Tub Tao Farm is a charming and unusual accommodation option that is full of character and endearing nooks and crannies. Every room is decorated differently allowing for a unique atmosphere and ambiance that caters for a wide range of tastes and preferences. Eight different rooms and houses are available and attention to detail is evident in every one. With excellent prices to boot, Tub Tao offers its guests something special. Rates start at THB 600 per person which includes breakfast, and THB 800 per head will also include dinner.
Antique Italian details ooze out of Palio Inn and all rooms are set within a typical Italian shopping arcade and visitors roaming about will have difficultly convincing themselves that they are not in olden-day Italy. Standard, Superior and Deluxe Rooms are on offer and all include beautiful furnishings, air-con, TVs, mini-bars and balconies. The Deluxe Room boasts an additional living area for its guests. Room rates begin at THB 2,200 and extend to around THB 5,500 for a night in ‘Thailand’s Italy’.
Considered to produce Thailand’s best wine, PB Valley is a breathtaking slice of vino paradise nestled amongst rolling hills and lush valleys. PB Valley Resort then is undoubtable one of the best resorts to stay at for visitors longing for delightful vineyard scenery and fresh air. Prices vary and are fortunately rather competitive considering the exquisite views and amenities. Rates begin at around THB 2,000 and can go up to THB 6,000. If possible, try and book during the weekdays as rates are wonderfully discounted.
In recent years, stylish condominiums have been sprouting up across Pak Chong and are ideal for travellers looking for a self-catering option or for those travelling in bigger groups looking for a house to share rather than a hotel or resort with different rooms.
The Valley Khaoyai by Atkarut is a nice option for those looking for an elegant and tasteful condominium. Facilities include a pool, fitness centre, free Wi-Fi, free parking, laundry facilities as well as a fully equipped kitchen and furnished living area. The price for a night’s stay here starts at around THB 3,000.
Sandao Condo Khaoyai is another option for those wanting a fully equipped apartment during their stay in Pak Chong. This condominium has an outdoor pool, fully kitted kitchen, daily housekeeping services, free Wi-Fi and starts at around THB 5, 800 for a night.
Where and what to eat in Pak Chong
Home to plenty of steak houses, Pak Chong is a haven for meat lovers with the generous cuts of meats and decent prices in the majority of the steak houses.
Opposite the highway police station in Pak Chong, travellers who enjoy pairing their steak with a liberal portion of Texan décor will thoroughly enjoy Texas Saloon Steakhouse that offers great value for money and scrumptious American fare.
Pak Chong is also known for its Kurobuta (black pig) steak. Buffalo Bill’s Texas Saloon Steak House is also an excellent spot for those craving all things medium-rare and patrons will relish the eccentric and extravagant cowboy-themed diner.
Not only a great destination for meat lovers, Pak Chong is also an excellent city in Thailand for foodies of all types of dietary preferences. Despite the rural area, the city is home to a delightful bunch of quirky and unusual cafes and restaurants which serve up traditional Thai food, homemade ice-cream, decadent desserts, cakes, coffees, waffles and spicy fish stews.
Be sure to check out Ban Mai Chay Nam Museum & Restaurant that is filled to bursting with childhood trinkets, relics and toys; Bunny Coffee that offers customers the chance to pet cute rabbits while sipping their beverages; and Mew Café for its stunning décor, outside cinema and excellent eggs benedict. Vegetarians will be pleased to know that Pak Chong has no shortage of meat-free dishes and even those with fussy appetites will not go hungry.
How to get around Pak Chong
While public transportation and taxis in Pak Chong are as elusive as they are unreliable, travellers are able to hire a private car or minivan with a driver should they wish to explore the city thoroughly and is best done through your hotel or resort.
Fortunately for travellers wanting to visit Khao Yai National Park there is a central songthaew stand situated east of the giraffe statue in the heart of the town. Songthaews offer travellers rides into the northern gate of the park until 4:30pm and charge around THB 30 per person.
It is also possible to rent a car in Pak Chong that you can drive on your own and is a good alternative for those longing for freedom and independent travel around the city. Although not nearly as popular as in many other Thai cities and towns, renting a motorcycle is also possible from a shop called Thawiyon (a 5 minute walk from the bus station).
How to get to and from Pak Chong
Getting into Pak Chong is probably best done by train due to Pak Chong being the main stop on the Northeastern line. Just a 5 minute walk north of the giraffe statue in the centre of town, lies the train station. For travellers heading into Pak Chong from Bangkok, trains depart Hualamphong Railway Station at least once every three hours from 5:45am to 10:25pm. The duration of the journey is around three hours and ticket prices vary considerably due to class and the type of train but travellers can expect to pay around THB 250 for a one-way ticket.
Getting to Bangkok from Pak Chong is possible at 10:10am, 11:25am, 2pm, 4:35pm, 7:10pm, 7:45pm, 12:05am, 12:40am, 1:25am and 2:25am.
For travellers wanting to head northeast to Ubon Ratchathani from Pak Chong via train, trains depart at 8:50am, 10:55am, 7:50pm, 10:50, 12:15am and 2:25am. Fortunately for those wanting to head to Buriram, Surin or Sisaket, all Ubon Rathathani-bound trains stop in these places. The journey is about 6 and a half hours.
It is also possible to get into Pak Chong from Bangkok via public bus or minivan. While these options are viable modes of transportation, they frequently take longer than the trains and are even more unreliable in terms of departure and arrival times. First-class buses are probably your best bet if heading to Pak Chong from Bangkok’s Morchit terminal and are even more affordable than the trains. Buses tend to depart every hour from around 6am to 8pm. The journey will take around three hours and tickets cost a reasonable THB 130 for a one-way journey.
Minibuses also leave Morchit from around 4am to around 7:30pm and drop passengers off in the heart of Pak Chong for around THB 150 per one-way ticket. Passengers will either arrive at a drop-off point near the night market and famous giraffe statue or will be dropped off at the northern side of Mittraphap east of the giraffe statue.
Pak Chong station guide
Pak Chong - train
To pave way for the Northeastern line assembly and construction, 2 mountains (Nok Yung and Noi) had to be blasted through with the approval of H.M. King Chulalongkorn or Rama V. From then and there, the village and train station was called 'Pak Chong' or 'mouth of the tunnel' by its townsmen.
Pak Chong Railway Station has 12 trains that depart for Bangkok, with several sleeper units of different classes to choose from. Pak Chong Station is located at mid Tedsaban Road, a stone's throw away from the 'giraffes sculpture' standing at the town's centre.
Long-distance trains from Bangkok to Nong Khai and local trains connecting Saraburi to Nakhon Ratchasima make their stop overs at Pak Chong Station.
Pak Chong - Bus
Located in the province of Nakhon Ratchasima, Pak Chong is a district with a population of 180,000. The district is the westernmost in the province and is regarded as the gateway to Isaan, northeastern Thailand. It is on the main Route 2 that connects Bangkok to the city of Nakhon Ratchasima.
Buses run between Bangkok’s Mochit bus station and the provincial capital regularly throughout the day, with most stopping on the town of Pak Chong’s main street. Here there is a range of stalls where local food can be bought as well as several 7-Elevens. Buy tickets in advance as buses between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima, the country’s second biggest city (by population), fill up fast.