Established in 1962 as Thailand’s first national park, it is the third largest national park in Thailand. Situated mainly in Nakhon Ratchasima Province, Khao Yai extends into Prachinburi, Saraburi and Nakhon Nayok provinces. Khao Yai is just 3 hours away from Bangkok.
The park covers an area of 2,168 square kilometres, including rain/evergreen forests and grasslands. 1,351 m high Khao Rom is the highest mountain within the park. The average altitude of the national park ranges from 400 to 1000 m above the sea level.
Khao Yai is part of Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex, a World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO, covering 5 protected areas from Khao Yai to Cambodian border. The other protected areas are; Pang Sida National Park, Thap Lan National Park, Ta Phraya National Park and Dong Yai Wildlife Sanctuary.
Park visitor center is nearly 13 km from the northern gate of the park accessible from Pak Chong. The park has two camping grounds where tents can be rent. Few of restaurants are located around HQ, one at Haew Narok Waterfall in Southern parts, one at Haew Suwat Waterfall. One of camping grounds also has a restaurant but is not open regularly.
The park is a very popular destination for both foreign and local tourists, it can be very busy on the week-ends and holidays. Few open grassland areas nearby visitor center, around Yod Khao Kiew mountain and further east increases the chance to see some amazing mammals. There are also many saltlicks along the roads to attracts bigger mammals such as elephants, gaurs, deers and many more.
The main entrance is at north with nearest city Pak Chong in Nakhon Ratchasima Province, the second entrance is at south in Nakhon Nayok province. The entrance fee is 400 THB for adults and 200 THB for children. As of March 2015, Thai driving licence, work permit or student card holders can’t get in for Thai price.
Due to one elephant damaging several cars over few days in early January this year, vehicles are limited to enter the park 6am to 6pm only. Vehicles entered the park are still allowed to leave until late hours which means tour operators will still be able to continue with nigh safaris after their day tours.