Lots of countries have their own national parks, but the ones in Thailand might surprise you with how stunningly beautiful and diverse they are. In Thailand’s national parks, you can see unspoiled wilderness, waterfalls, towering cliffs, wildlife, and fascinating archaeological sites. These are ideal places to learn about Thai culture and really gain an appreciation for the beauty that surrounds you. Here are 10 of the most incredible national parks in Thailand that belong on your travel bucket list.
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Khao Sok National Park
Khao Sok is a must-visit national park because it is so easily accessible from Phuket, Krabi, and the local airports. Here you’ll find limestone mountains, green jungles, and the lovely Cheow Lan Lake. You can often spot wildlife here, visit the Elephant Hills sanctuary, and take a boat trip to experience the park from the water. Plan to stay overnight at the Cheow Lan Lake floating camp because the tents here are on floating decks right on the edge of the lake.
Khao Yai National Park
This is a central Thailand park that has the distinction of being the first national park in the country. Come here for a good chance to see wildlife, including monkeys, elephants, and leopard. Mountain climbers and hikers enjoy this park because of the wonderful trails and routes here. Plan to take a guided hike for the best opportunities to see Asian elephants in their native habitat.
Phu Kradueng National Park
Local tourists love coming to Phu Kradueng National Park for its long hiking trails, cool weather, and viewpoints with waterfalls. Come to this park if you’re looking for a remote experience that is a more off-the-beaten-path destination for international tourists. You can reach the park by public transportation from Bangkok and the nearby provinces. There are two visitor centers here, and you can reach the upper camping ground at the end of an 8.7-kilometer hike that takes about five hours to complete. Both tents and bungalows are available here, and there are several restaurants near the camping area.
Mu Ko Surin National Park
Thailand has many islands, and you can experience one of the protected ones in the Andaman Sea when you visit Mu Ko Surin National Park. This is an ideal place to visit if you enjoy water sports and especially snorkeling. Down in the waters, you may very well see coral reefs and colorful fish. The main islands here are Ko Surin Tai and Ko Surin Nuea. Plan your visit between December and April for the best diving conditions in the Surin Islands. A must-see attraction here is Richelieu Rock, which is a horseshoe-shaped reef that is a world-class diving site.
Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
We also love this park because of its limestone hills and caves. A popular tourist attraction is the Phaya Nakhon Cave, which actually has a Buddhist temple inside of it. Bird watchers also love coming here to see the many species that live inside Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. This national park is accessible from both Hua Hin and Bangkok. You can rent a tent to stay overnight here at Laem Sala Beach and Sam Phraya Beach.
Thung Salaeng Luang National Park
You’ll need to travel about six hours north of Bangkok to visit the Thung Salaeng Luang National Park, but it’s well worth the journey if you love hiking. The landscapes here range from savannah grasslands to high mountain ranges, with lots of pine trees and flowers throughout it. Contact the park office in advance if you want to camp overnight in this national park. Plan your visit between October and December to see the wildflowers in bloom.
Kui Buri National Park
Kui Buri National Park is best known for its elephant viewing opportunities because there are so many herds of elephants that still call this region home. You can drive yourself through some areas of the park, but you must join a guided tour to see other parts. There are also tents and bungalows available to stay overnight here. For drier weather, plan your visit to Kui Buri for June or July.
Kaeng Krachan National Park
This is another wonderful national park to visit and a large one bordering Burma’s Tanintharyi Nature Reserve. Come here to experience the rainforest and misty clouds between December and March. This is also an ideal park for animal lovers because there are diverse populations of birds, butterflies, and other wildlife species here. It’s fun to explore this park by boat on a guided trip and hike through the forest to see the mountains at your own pace. Head to the Huai Leuk substation north of the visitor center if you’re only coming here on a day trip and want to see wildlife. November to May is the best time to visit if you want to avoid heavy rainfall.
Ang Thong Marine National Park
Another great way to experience Thailand’s islands is by visiting this marine national park that’s made up of 42 of them. Take a guided boat tour or rent your own boat or kayak to see them, or perhaps try snorkeling or diving in the blue waters here. You can hike on some of the islands or simply relax on the beach and look for wildlife. This is also a fun place to explore caves and rent out a bungalow or tent to spend a bit more time.
Erawan National Park
Although there are so many more national parks in Thailand worth visiting too, the last one we’ll mention here is the Erawan National Park in western Thailand. The big draw here is Erawan Falls, which is a mystical waterfall with seven tiers. What’s great about this waterfall is that you can actually climb in and bathe in the serene pools. It’s easy to take a day trip from Bangkok to visit this park, which is why it’s one of the most popular national parks in the country. If you want to beat the crowds, consider staying overnight in nearby Kanchanaburi so you can head to the waterfall early in the morning.