Rustic jungle living
Visitor Centre, Zone 4, Lam Takong and Pha Kluai Mai campgrounds, Khao Yai National Park T: (025) 620 760
Whether a solo traveller looking to pitch a small tent in the forest, or a group of 50 in need of a roof over their heads, Khao Yai has what you're looking for.
Accommodation is split into four zones, the first three of which are set back behind the Visitor Centre near the sound of a gently flowing rocky river. Zone four lies further to the south, and accommodation there is virtually the same as in zones 1-3 except it's a more remote area and there are no large lodges available for groups. Two campgrounds -- Lam Takong and Pha Kluai Mai -- are located in more desirable natural surrounds in the middle of the park's western half. Lam Takong campground is set over a vast, rolling field with plenty of trees for shade, and it's possible to set up a tent in a totally secluded spot along the peaceful Lam Takong River. Don't be surprised if one of the docile deer walk within a metre or two of where you're standing. Pha Kluai Mai campground is down the side road that ends at Heo Suwat waterfall, and although smaller and more forested it's also a beautiful area not far from Pha Kluai Mai waterfall.
With the exception of campgrounds and two youth hostels in Zones 1 and 3, one of which is nothing more than a big room where visitors sleep on mats on the floor and the other featuring single beds in rows, all accommodations feel something like a cabin although they come in several units connected to one another. All have private hot water bathrooms, single beds that are painfully firm but clean, fans, spacious interiors with hardwood floors, a couple wood chairs, large screened windows, and big porches out front. The larger rooms are similar except with extra beds and divided bedrooms, though the family rooms have small living areas as well and the deluxe house has a fridge. All rooms are rustic and on the old side, but they're what you would expect in a national park.
If camping, it is possible to set up your own tent and exclusively use your own equipment, or rely totally on the park for all your needs. The tents on offer are rugged and among other items it's possible to rent mosquito nets, which campground officials will set up for you along with the tents at the site of your choosing. The campground is very well equipped, even offering grills and firewood for barbequing, although you'll need to bring your own food from outside the park for that. Shared bathrooms at the campgrounds are grotty with concrete stalls featuring squat and western toilets and little else save a few creepy crawlers. Sinks are in a communal open air setting and the mirrors are small and hazy, but rustic living is what you're coming for, right? Note: Aside from youth hostels, campsites and deluxe rooms, all accommodation sees 30% discounts from Monday to Thursday. Visit the National Park website for advance booking.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 3rd December, 2014.