With over 50 national parks, Thailand's lush countryside has a unique beauty only found in this part of the world. The warm climate and heavy monsoon rain allows the flora and fauna to flourish and in turn, produces an ideal environment for animals and insects to live.
If you think a trip to Thailand is all about the bustling cities and the tropical islands, then you have only just scratched the surface. By taking a trip out of the city during your Thailand holiday, you will soon come across one of these many beautiful national parks. Here are just a few of the best that you can discover during your Thailand travels....
2,168 sq km
In 1961, this was the first officially recognised national park. Hidden deep within this beautiful park are a number of stunning waterfalls, one of which you may recognise from the film, The Beach. The park can be found just a few hours North West of Bangkok in the Sankambeng Mountain Range and is well worth a visit during your Thailand trip. The second largest park in Thailand, Khao Yai covers an area of 2,168 square kilometers. With over 50 hiking trails varying from different levels of difficulty, Khao Yai is a great travel destination for those wanting to include some great walks during their Thailand travel experience (and if you're lucky you might just spot a tiger). Maps for some of the easiest routes can be found at the visitor's center. The largest waterfall in the park, Haew Narok Waterfall soars over 150 meters from top to bottom. However, the one that most people come to see during their Thailand travels is Haew Suwat falls; the waterfall from the film The Beach. It is only 8km from the visitors center and if you want to visit this area during your holiday in Thailand, it's best to head there mid-week when there are less people.
793 sq km
The remote location of this national park (which is only accessible by road) has made this one the best kept- as well as most popular- parks in Thailand. You can reach Khao Sok from both Surat thani and Phuket; linking well into to many routes through the country. It's therefore a good midway point to stop off during your Thailand trip on your way to the islands in the south. In the middle of this park, there is a huge lake with many small estuaries which rise and fall depending on the season's rainfall. If the natural world is your cup of tea and something that you would like to include in your Thailand travel experience, you will be in your element here! You can take one of the treks into the jungle to ride elephants, see monkeys in their natural habitat, and you'll be surrounded by calls of over 200 species of birds. Taking a kayak out on the lake is also possible, not to mention a great way to explore and would be a real highlight of your Thailand trip. Due the remote location of this park, it retains a certain unspoilt charm which makes it so special and a fantastic addition to your Thailand adventure.
Erawan National Park
550 sq km
The Erawan National park is most famous for the bridge over the river Kwai, which is surrounded by rolling hills and dense jungle, and definitely is a must see during your Thailand trip. You can stay on floating huts on the river or take a walk across the bridge. The surrounding area gives you a real feeling of the plight that the POW's must have gone through when building the bridge, and the museums are a great insight into the 2nd world war. From Bangkok, there are daily buses to the province of Kanchanuburi and so it is easy to reach if your Thailand trip is only a flying visit. As well as visiting this historic bridge, you should also include a trip out to the Erawan Falls in your Thailand holiday. Tours run regularly and can sometimes be quite busy but, once at the falls you can hike up the 7 tires of this stunning waterfall, taking a dip in each of the pools- a real highlight of your Thailand trip! Only the dedicated few will make it all the way to the top (which you will have almost to yourself). Taking a dip in the blue azure water is a temptation not many can resist, but watch out, as there are little fish in the lower pools which are intent on giving you a foot spa!
Doi Inthanon National Park
482 sq km
If you are planning to head north during your Thailand holiday, the Doi Inthanon National Park (or the "Roof of Thailand") is one park that you do not always find in the tour books. This is the highest national park in Thailand, reaching over 2,500 meters above sea level and is part of the Loi Lar mountain range separating Thailand and Burma. If you venture out to this park during the course of your Thailand holiday, then be sure to take a jumper as the temperatures during the dry season can often reach around 5 degrees Celsius. At lower points to the east, a number of caves are formed from the limestone rock. As you traverse the winding road up to the summit, you will be flanked by waterfalls and due to the cooler climate, the plants less resemble the tropical Thailand jungles of the lower regions.
If you're thinking of doing a spot of camping during your Thailand trip, it's very popular in this area and information on trail maps and camp sites can be found at the visitor's center found at 31st km sign.
The area was originally a royal favorite, to escape from the hot summers at lower levels. The king Inthawichayanon enjoyed this region so much that he had his ashes scattered here.
Please note from 1st June to 31st October this park is closed to the public.
Ang Thong National Marine Park
Unlike the other parks in this section, the Ang Thong National Marine Park is made up of 42 archipelago islands off the east coast to the North of Ko Samui. These sets of islands are inhabitable apart from one, Ko Paluay as the rest are protected. The islands are made up of a mix of steep rock cliffs, deep caves and hidden lagoons and are famous for their natural beauty. There are also white sandy beaches and shallow coral reefs which you can explore with your snorkel during your Thailand holiday. No large animals live on these small islands, but a number of smaller animals, reptiles and birds live here such as crab eating monkeys, green turtles and drongoes. Thailand tours run from Ko Samui and are strictly regulated by the authorities to keep the numbers limited. You can also visit the only inhabited island where the sea gypsies live on this Thailand trip.
With so many parks, it's difficult to know where to spend your time when you're planning your Thailand trip, but with this rough guide, you will have a great idea of a few of the best!
Khao Yai jungle trails. Island hopping to hidden paradise. Sleep in the Thai countryside and floating huts along the River Kwai. We'll help you build your very own Thailand holiday.
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