A friend of mine visited Khao Yai posted his pictures on Facebook, and from that time onward, Khao Yai got onto my bucket list. This year 2015, we spent Christmas there.
For those who want to go there, some key points to note:
- You need transport. Khao Yai is one loooong road (more than 100km?) – it is not a town or a central place where you can get everything. The nearest central town Pak Chong is 40km. Restaurants and resorts lined this long road. We hired a van from Bangkok who picked us up from the airport, spent 3 days with us in Khao Yai before sending us back to the city. For this, I highly recommend Thai Transfer http://www.thaitransfer.info. The drivers are nice, prices very reasonable (after I compared 2 other companies) and vans comfortable. Trust me, you really need a vehicle. There are NO taxis. The closest place that resembles a town center is the faux Tuscan town Palio. It has overpriced restaurants and a 24 hr supermarket with some shops.
- Some of the places, like Jim Thompson farm open only once a year. We were lucky to plan our trip in december because the farm opens only from Dec – Jan (1 month). If you can go there, it is the highlight of any Khao Yai trip. Again you need a van to do this – its almost 130km one way. If you can, you MUST go to Jim Thompson Farm. Why a van and not a taxi? Because you can recline and sleep on the long distance rides.
- Khao Yai National Park is HUGE. Just the distance from the entrance, where you buy your tickets to the visitor center is 14 km. From the visitor center to the waterfall is 10 km. Again, you need a vehicle. Either join a tour from Pak Chong that arranges transport or charter your own vehicle. Overnight trips can be arranged to see elephants, tigers etc.
- Overall, prices in Khao Yai are expensive compared to BKK. But the weather, the scenery and the wide open spaces just makes you want to stay. After 3 nights in Khao Yao, we did not want to go back to BKK.
- Your hotel/resort can help arrange transport, but it is usually more expensive than getting your own from Bangkok. A trip out from our resort to a nearby restaurant and back was quoted at Bht800.
- We stayed at Kirimaya Golf Resort. Views from the balcony to the golf course make you want to stay there the whole day. Kirimaya has 2 restaurants and one Thai massage directly outside the resort – 1 Thai and 1 Steakhouse called steak@Khao Yai. Eat the the steakhouse and get a seat on the second floor to enjoy open views to the mountains. Enjoy your steak and wine in the cool air. The food there is cheaper than in the hotel. From the hotel lobby, get a buggy to alight you at the main entrance of the resort. Cross the road and viola!
Enjoy the photos!