Has anyone hire a private guide in the Khao Yai national park?
We will have a car and being somewhat ancient cannot walk all day, so we would like to hire a guide for a half day - just to go to one of the observation towers - probably the one at km33.
We also noted that most of the organised tours go around 0800 and it is our experience in other nature reserves that to see any wildlife it is better to go much earlier. We were thinking of trying to get to the park around 0630, so would like to organise a guide the day before, as I am sure we will see more with a good local guide.
Someone said you could use a Park Ranger. Is that correct?
Any idea of costs?
Finally - I read somewhere you could not take food or drink into the park. In that heat and humidity would very quickly get dehydrated if you do not take in some bottled water. Anyone know the truth of this?
#1 FrenchArt has been a member since 6/5/2012. Posts: 14
I did the park independently with a car this past January.
There are a couple options for hiring a guide. One would be to inquire at a private guesthouse or tour company outside the park. I've had some good reviews from travelers about Green Leaf, which is located about half way down the northern entrance road to Khao Yai from Pak Chong (www.greenleaftour.com). They specialize in group tours but would most likely be able to provide a private guide as well.
I was told at the visitor center that you can also hire a park ranger to be guide at a rate of 500 baht per 3 hours. I'm not sure if this can be arranged in advance, but you could try calling the park at (66) 025 620 760, or try to email them through www.dnp.go.th.
The park is fairly easy to navigate by car with plenty of well marked signs. The only odd thing is they don't give you any maps or information when you enter. You can only obtain all that info at the visitor center towards the middle of the park.
The park gates open at 06:00 so you can definitely get in early, which you're correct is a wise choice for wildlife spotting.
Not true about bringing food and drink into the park, at least if you have a vehicle. The park official working at one of the campgrounds actually suggested we bring a cooler in our car with some food for grilling since the park can rent out grills for use in campsites. Certainly you can bring as much water as you like, but there are some park run restaurants and convenience shops near the visitor center and campgrounds in case you need to grab a drink or bite to eat.
Hope that answers your questions. I heard recently that Travelfish has brand new info on Khao Yai and the Pak Chong area coming soon, so you might check back for that. In the meantime, www.khaoyaiguide.com lacks a lot of specifics but is not bad to get a feel for the place.
Thanks - that is a really helpful reply and I will look out for the new Travelfish info in a few weeks. All the best, Art
#3 FrenchArt has been a member since 6/5/2012. Posts: 14
You're welcome. By the way, a lot of people are unaware that the Pak Chong / Muak Lek area near Khao Yai has some gorgeous hill country where you can visit a bunch of wine vineyards, local farms, and a very pretty lake. If you have a car and the time it's really worth exploring that area too, particularly if you're into wine, but even just for the scenic countryside drive it makes for a splendid day.
Good to read the park is straight-forward to do yourself if you have a car. Also great that there is a possibility for hiring a guide at the visitor centre. Rate seams very reasonable to me.
We are thinking of going there by car and staying in one of the park 'bungalows'. At 800 Baht it seams reasonable value, considering we don't like to stay in a tent. These 800 Baht-'bungalows' seem to be located on two different locations. Zone 3 (Khao Yai 301/302) and zone 4 (Khao Yai 407). What's the most convenient place to stay?
#5 tomdegoeij has been a member since 23/2/2012. Posts: 8
It's actually split into four zones, but zones 1-3 are all centrally located in the vicinity of the visitor center and these are by far more convenient. The bungalows are spacious and not bad, but really hard beds. The southern Thanarat zone (4) is a lot more remote and not as centrally located. Even so, while the park is huge, the entire western half is untouched jungle so you won't see any of that unless doing some serious multiple night treks guided by park rangers. All the roads are in the eastern half of the park and all of these along with a lot of the trails and most of the main sites can be explored in two days, unless you're stopping for long periods to wait and hopefully spot wildlife.
I stayed in Tannarat area, very beautiful bungalow like my dream home but bedding and furniture was not good. Take your own sheets is my advice. Cost me 100 USD a night but had 3 bedrooms.
Food and drink is OK to take your own but lots available in the park at the HQ area, my bungalow had barbecue on veranda.
#7 Tigress has been a member since 31/12/2013. Posts: 5
We've just returned from 2 days in Khao Yai. Travelled from Bangkok to Pak Chong by bus, but arrived in Pak Chong after 5pm so the public bus to the park was not running. Taxi to the Jungle House Hotel (3 km outside park entrance, 1200-1400baht for room with A/C) was 450 baht. The next morning we caught the local bus to the Park Entrance and hitch hiked into the park- very, very easy to catch a ride (mind you we were traveling on a weekend, so far more Thai's passing through then on a week day).
We hired a ranger at the Park HQ- and were shocked to learn that a 3 hr, 5km guided hike cost 700baht. We did the trek, and while the guide was necessary (trails are well marked in places, but void of any real path in other parts), it didn't feel like 700 baht well spent. The 8km trek was 1000 baht, so we passed on that one. There are two trails in the park that can be self-guided; we did one and it was good fun.
Definitely a good park to explore by car, and to take a night safari (corral a large group to reduce costs as its the same for 2 or 10 people). Perhaps not the best for true 'trekking,' that is, long hikes with lots of good exercise. Better for wildlife and lookouts by car.
#8 bonita001 has been a member since 25/5/2014. Posts: 1