If you are thinking of visiting Khao Yai National Park, stop thinking about it and do it! It was an incredible part of my trip to Thailand and yes, I was lucky enough to see wild elephants in the park. However, we also saw so many other fantastic animals and scenery which makes a trip to this part of Thailand worth it.
Getting to Khao Yai National Park isn’t simple, but that is why it is still so great to visit. If it was easier to visit, there would be a lot more people and it would not be a unique part of Thailand. It is worth the effort of getting there!
To get to Khao Yai National Park, I went to Pak Chong. Probably the easiest place to get to that is near the National Park. To get to Pak Chong I took a bus, and then after my trip to get to Bangkok I took the train, so I experienced two methods of travel and I will go through them below!
Bangkok to Pak Chong by Bus
Buses depart from the Mochit Bus Terminal (Northern Bus Terminal) in Bangkok. Make sure to tell your taxi driver to go to the Bus Terminal, as simply saying “Mochit” meant we were first taken to the MRT station! There is also the Mochit New Van Terminal (across the road from the Main Bus Terminal) which is where you will find smaller, vans that can take you all around Thailand. There is the option to get a van to Pak Chong, which would be cheaper, but they are cramped and have no toilet so we opted for a larger bus from the main station instead. The time of the bigger buses worked for us better too.
The bus route is serviced by the Nakhonchai 21 VIP 32 buses. The trip takes around 3 hours. Tickets are sold at counter numbers 44 and 65 and do sell out, so be early (I’d say around 1 hour before the bus is scheduled to depart). The ticket seller will tell you what platform to go to.
Now the bus did not drop us off in Pak Chong centre, and to be honest dropped us off at the side of a busy road in the dark. Not the best! Luckily there was a McDonalds nearby so we walked to that where we used the Wi-Fi to contact our hostel. We stayed at More Than Sleep Hostel Pak Chong and I would totally recommend it! They came and picked us up, obviously used to the bus dropping off backpackers at the side of the road!
This hostel also organised all our tours around Khao Yai National Park. We went with Greenleaf Guesthouse & Tours and I would thoroughly recommend. We did their full day tour to the National Park, where we saw lots of animals including the elephants, plus the next day we did their half tour where we saw the Bats leave the cave at dusk which was incredible. I’d definitely recommend using this tour company for your visit to Khao Yai!
Pak Chong to Bangkok by Train
For the journey back to Bangkok after our incredible 2 days in Khao Yai National Park we opted to get the train as it is super cheap, and also was just a short walk away from our hostel.
We got the slowest train as it was the next available train and cost just a few Euros. The journey said it would take 4 hours, but it took closer to 6 hours! The train was also packed and had no air conditioning, so it was an interesting journey to say the least. An hour or so into the ride, a lot of school students got off the train which freed up a lot of seats and with a window open, the journey was not too bad. Plus, the train took us right back into the heart of Bangkok which was very useful. However, would I opt for the train again? No, I would recommend the bus over the train for sure!! Or at least a faster train, as the journey was incredibly long, and I was starving by the end of it.
Overall, Pak Chong and Khao Yai National Park is totally worth the effort of visiting. From Bangkok it is not too difficult to get to, it just involves some forward planning and organising. Definitely check out Greenleaf Tours as I had a great 2 days of tours with them, and they do pick up from a number of hotels and hostels in the Pak Chong area, and even hotels closer to the National Park entrance.
I hope you see Elephants on your visit!