Thailand mountains

Where the Wild Things Are – Thailand’s National Parks

Feb 10, 2024 | Adventure, Nature & Wildlife, Thailand

Outdoor experiences are set to be one of the top travel trends in 2024. The idea of being closer to nature and at one with the great outdoors is shaping the way we travel. So we can think of no place better to make a beeline for on holiday than the gorgeous national parks of Thailand.

These protected spaces represent the most fantastical elements of the natural world. There are caves big enough to house temples, emerald lakes hidden amongst surreal limestone islands, ancient rainforests that shelter elephants, and remote archipelagos that feel like they’ve dropped off the ends of the earth. Make them part of your trip itinerary and you have the makings of the ultimate getaway.

Here are our favourite national parks in Thailand that nature lovers and Indiana Jones types will definitely want to explore…

Phang Nga National Park, Thailand

Ao Phang Nga National Park

The dramatic karst scenery of Phang Nga Bay famously starred in the film, The Man with the Golden Gun. But this area, not far from Phuket, is so much more than just the ‘James Bond Island’. Over 42 surreal limestone rock formations plunge into emerald waters. Wildlife thrives in the cliffs, caves, mangrove swamps and shimmering lagoons – all of which can be explored by boat and sea kayak, allowing access to an ancient secret world. There is an abundance of reptiles like flying lizards, Bengal monitor lizards and tropical vipers as well as rare birds, macaques, gibbons, fruit bats and fiddler crabs. Visit Koh Panyee, a village built on stilts in the shallow water at the base of an island, home to a community of fishermen.


Recommended hotels in Phuket:
Paresa Resort Phuket
The Slate Phuket
Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand

Doi Inthanon National Park

The granite mass of Doi Inthanon, part of the Himalayan mountain range, rises 2,565 metres above sea level and is the highest summit in the country. Located in Chiang Mai province, the ‘Roof of Thailand’ is a paradise for nature lovers with almost 400 species of birds, as well as animals, flowers and fauna. Hiking trails lead to thunderous waterfalls and magnificent temples including two sacred stupas built in honour of the late king and queen’s 60th birthday anniversaries. The misty and refreshingly cool summit affords jaw-dropping views over the surroundings. During late January and early February, the native Siamese Sakura trees show their blossoms, turning the scenery into beautiful shades of pink.


Recommended hotels in Chiang Mai:
137 Pillars House Chiang Mai
Villa Mahabhirom Chiang Mai
Ko Lanta National Park, Thailand

Mu Koh Lanta National Park

This marine park consists of 16 islands in the southern part of Krabi province. The mangrove forest on Koh Lanta is a beautiful sea of green trees with roots that wiggle deep beneath the water. It can be explored by pathways or via boat along the small canals that snake through the mangrove. Offshore, Ko Talabeng has dramatic limestone caves that you can explore by sea kayak. Ko Rok Nai is a beautiful small island with a crescent-shaped bay backed by cliffs, fine coral reefs and a sparkling white-sand beach. Koh Haa is popular for snorkelling due to the good visibility and plenty of marine life, including turtles. On very rare occasions, dugongs can can be spotted off the coast of Koh Lanta!

(Image source: Pimalai Resort & Spa)

Recommended hotel in Krabi:  

Pimalai Resort & Spa Koh Lanta
Khao Yai National Park, Thailand

Khao Yai National Park

Located about two hours drive from Bangkok, Khao Yai is Thailand’s first official national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 2,000 sqm are blessed with a landscape of low steep-sided mountains, tropical rainforest, cascading waterfalls and a rich diversity of plants and animals. Many charismatic species of animals can be found here including gibbons, macaques, barking deer, bears and quite a few reptiles. With a bit of luck, you may even run into elephants! The three-tiered Nam Tok Haew Narok, or Hell Gorge Waterfall, is the highest waterfall. But do check out Haew Suwat Waterfall – Leonardo di Caprio jumped from it in a scene from the Hollywood blockbuster, The Beach.


Recommended hotels in Bangkok:

Rembrandt Hotel & Suites Bangkok
Chatrium Grand Bangkok thumbnail
Chatrium Grand Bangkok thumbnail
Ad Lib Bangkok
Rembrandt Hotel & Suites Bangkok
Sam Roi Yod National Park, Thailand

Khao Laem Ya – Mu Ko Samet National Park

The Khao Laem Ya-Mu Ko Samet National Park covers a total area of 131 square kilometres of land and sea and is easily reached from Pattaya. It encompasses many beaches and islands, the most famous being Koh Samet whose beaches are said to be among the best in Thailand. Although tourism is allowed with a good selection of hotels and guest houses, there is still a minimum of bars and discotheques. Fish in the waters of the national marine park include parrot fish, blue damselfish and cuttlefish. Mammals include crab-eating macaque, flying foxes and lesser mouse-deer. The islands are also home to seabirds such as pacific reef heron, black-naped tern and great crested tern.

Recommended hotel in Pattaya:

Rembrandt Hotel & Suites Bangkok
Sam Roi Yod National Park, Thailand

Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park

Lace up your hiking boots and capture the beauty of Sam Roi Yod up close. Located about 40 km from Pranburi, Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park, which means ‘Three Hundred Mountain Peaks’, is home to mountain-caves, forested trails, freshwater marshes and hundreds of limestone peaks covered in lush greenery. Many of the cliffs are riddled with stalactite and stalagmite-filled caves. It’s worth the steep, sweaty and arduous climb up to the beautiful Phraya Nakhon Cave. On arrival, you will be greeted by the incredible sight of a shaft of sunlight shining through a hole in the roof of the cave onto an exquisite Thai-style pavilion that was built for King Rama V.

Angthong Marine Park, Thailand

Ang Thong National Marine Park

The stunning Ang Thong National Marine Park is an archipelago of over 42 islands located off the east coast of Koh Samui about one hour by speedboat. Here you will find deserted islands, hidden lagoons, rugged limestone rock formations and pristine beaches. There is one nomadic village at Ko Wua Ta Lap and another at Ko Phaluai – the other islands are uninhabited. Visit the beautiful saltwater Emerald Lake, also known as Talay Nai – this incredible inland lake was the inspiration for the book, The Beach. Discover the rich biodiversity of the sea with activities such as snorkelling, swimming, sea kayaking and diving.

Intrigued to know more about Thailand? Contact us …

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