I am an outdoors kind of girl in the sense that I have an outdoorsy boyfriend and have been dragged along on hikes and treks in the wilderness regardless of whether I want to go or not. After 5 years, you stop digging your heels, you kind of get used to it and your brain tricks you into thinking that you’re enjoying it. Fitness, after blogging is my favourite pastime and is my main passion in life; my drive to be strong spurs me on when hiking; it keeps my pace up when I want to slow down, it urges me not to stop when that’s all I want to do and it keeps me at ease hiking in Asian jungle despite what creepy crawlies may be in my vicinity. Despite all of this, camping is not for me. Never has, maybe never will- I guess we’ll have to see. So I don’t know why I of all people decided to arrange a camping trip in a National Park in central Thailand. I fear all of this travelling has made me forget who I really am- a girl who HATES camping.
As my friend Hollie always says to me, on paper I love a lot of things, in reality I actually hate them-is that strange? I will go on for days how much I want to sit by the pool and relax all weekend, within 10 minute I’ll be bored stupid, I’ll decide I want to have a quiet weekend in my apartment- before that even happens I’ll have booked a weekend away because I’m already going stir crazy. On paper, camping seemed like a fantastic idea, in reality, as always, not so much.
Having said that, this long weekend was possibly the best I’ve had in Thailand to date. We visited a tuscany-themed outlet shopping centre right outside the national park which was pretty incredible. Not 5km into the park we came across a wild elephant blocking the road whilst chomping on hanging branches (which is apparently very rare), wild deer surrounded our tent grazing on the wet grass, I saw the biggest spider I’ve ever seen in my life, I got more wet than ever before in a passing storm, the bathrooms were like a zoo for crazy creepy crawlies- unlike anything I’ve ever seen, I tried mangosteen which is my new favourite fruit, we saw a beautiful waterfall, hiked in the jungle, zoomed up mountains and I spent the weekend with three of my favourite people. Khao Yai gave me memories I’m unlikely to ever forget- heck, maybe I’ll even go camping again just to capture the fun I’ve had here once more.
Wanna go to Khao Yai? There’s limited info (in English anyway) online so let me break it down for you;
Bangkok to Pak Chong
Bus: Get a minivan from Mo Chit station in Bangkok to Pak Chong. The buses leave pretty regularly and cost around 160 BHT and takes around 3 hours.
Train: Grab a ticket from Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok for 185 BHT for a 3rd class ticket. The train isn’t that comfortable but the views are beaut and it makes a lovely change from getting the bus everwhere. The train takes around 4 1/2 hours and you can find the timetable online.
Pak Chong to Khao Yai National Park
You can either get the songtow to the park which leaves from Pak Chong centre and takes you to the entrance of Khao Yai. The only thing is that trails, the visitor centre, restaurants and the campsite are around 14km from the entrance of the park and there isn’t any public transport- you’ll have to hitchhike (but that isn’t a problem and cars should stop for you pretty easily). If you can, riding a scooter is your best bet. Hire one from Pak Chong itself for 300 BHT per day (500 BHT inside the park). That way you can drive to the park itself (there is some seriously cool stuff along the main road to Khao Yai which I recommend you check out on the way) and make your own way around it without the worry of hitching a lift.
We stayed in campsite 1 (30 BHT camping fee) which is pretty beautiful; there’s a coffee shop and a mini mart there too. Wild deer are everywhere so make sure you don’t leave any food at all in your tent or they will destroy your belongings to get to your snacks. I took my own sleeping bag and mosquito net but you can hire most things from the campsite itself; pillows 15-20 BHT, 2 man tent- approx 175 BHT, 4 man tent- approx 220 BHT, sleeping bags, blankets and sleeping pads- 35 BHT. Rent this from the office at the campsite itself, they’ll take your passport but don’t really care about what condition it comes back in, the stuff will most likely already be broken when you get it- you’ll get your passport back when you check out. Make sure you’re not too far away form the toilet block for midnight loo trips and don’t camp too close to the river as it overflows when it rains.
Park entrance fee
If you’re not Thai then the entrance fee is 400 BHT (pretty steep right) especially when the Thai entrance fee is 40! Nope, I know what you’re thinking! It doesn’t matter if you have a work permit, a Non-B visa or even a Thai wife. If you’re white, you’re paying 400 BHT.