Lose Yourself in the Forest

Leave all your cares behind and marvel at the beautiful unspoiled wilderness of Khao Yai.

Words by Suthima T.

When the fury and the fumes of city life get too much, it’s good to remember that peaceful Khao Yai National Park lies just three hours away from Bangkok.

The best time to experience its misty mornings is between November and February when the weather is just perfect for outdoor activities. Here are a few ideas for things to do if you manage to escape.

Opened in 1962, Khao Yai was Thailand’s first national park and is now the third largest in the country. Its forests and waterfalls are spread across 2,168 square kilometres and four provinces, namely Prachin Buri, Saraburi, Nakhon Nayok and Nakhon Ratchasima. Named a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2005, Khao Yai has become a popular getaway for Bangkokians who want to catch sight of wild creatures of all shapes and sizes in their natural habitat. Apart from great trekking trails, the park features majestic mountain scenery, impressive waterfalls, rare wildlife, eye-popping viewpoints and more.

Entry fees: Foreign visitors ay 400 baht for adults and 200 baht for children, while Thais pay 40 baht for adults and 20 baht for children.

Khao Yai National Park Visitor Centre, Pak Chong District, Nakhon Ratchasima, thainationalparks.com/khao-yai-national-park

Haew Narok Waterfall, or Hell’s Abyss, is known for its steep and treacherous cliff, down which while herds of elephants have plunged to their death. The name paints a terrifying image, but this is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful sights in the park. The fall is divided into three cascades, through which water tumbles from a height of more than 150 metres. Though the walkway to the bottom is well-paved, visitors have to negotiate some rather steep steps on the way up. Swimming is not allowed, but the view is worth the trek.

Haew Suwat earned a name for itself after Leonardo DiCaprio dove into its depths for Danny Boyle’s film “The Beach”. The base of the waterfall is a short and easy trek from the Haew Suwat Car Park and is close to a camping ground.

Pha Diao Dai cliff has earned a reputation for the most stunning views in Khao Yai Park. The peak soars up more than 1,000 metres from the ground and is topped by giant boulders which offer the perfect perch for visitors. There are no safety rails at the cliff edge, so be safe.

Lam Phra Phloeng Reservoir was built in 1962 to store water for farmers’ crops. Hugging one side of the man-made lake is a 2-kilometre-long paved road for cycling, jogging and walks. For trekkers in search of an adventure, there’s also a 2km dirt trail leading to Lam Phra Phleng Dam lookout point. Wang Nam Khiao District, Nakhon Ratchasima

Wang Nam Khiao district is often referred to as the Switzerland of Thailand thanks to its lush mountain ranges and majestic views. There’s plenty to do around here, but one thing you shouldn’t miss is watching the sun set at Pha Kep Tawan. You can also do your bit to reforest the area by grabbing a slingshot and firing seeds from the clifftop.

Worth a Stop

From December to February every year, more than 4,000 hectares across Lopburi and Saraburi provinces are covered with blooming sunflowers, offering endless Insta-worthy stops.

Covering more than 90 hectares at the foot of Payaprab Mountain, the Jim Thompson Farm sprouts organic vegetable gardens and colourful fields of flowers. You can purchase pesticide-free flowers and organic produce here too.

Entry fees: On weekdays it’s 120 baht for adults and 80 baht for children, while on weekends it’s 140 baht for adults and 100 baht for children. Opens from December to January, 2072, Takhop, Pak Thong Chai District, Nakhon Ratchasima, jimthompsonfarm.com

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