KHAO YAI NATIONAL PARK Part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site: Dong Phaya Yen–Khao Yai Forest Complex
NAKHON RATCHASIMA PROVINCE (Pak Chong) (also includes parts of SARABURI, PRACHINBURI, NAKHON NAYOK PROVINCES)
14o26’29’’N 101o22’11’’E, 216,800 hectares, located at the at the south-western boundary of the Khorat Plateau and Sankamphaeng Mountain Range, generally between 400 to 1,000m to 1,351m (Khao Rom), forest mainly deciduous but some pine and large areas of grassland riparian habitat and lakes
December to April (our visit early February) Humid rainy season May to October 27C day to 13C night. Cold season (clear, sunny) November to February. 22C day to 10C night. Hot season March to April 25+C day 17C night.
Birding Site Guide
The main entrance is at N, the S entrance is in Nakhon Nayok province. Entrance fee is 400 THB for adults and 200 THB for children. A 4x4 is not needed, at least in dry weather season. From Bangkok to Khao Yai North (main entrance): Highway route 31 N drive 42km until the junction to route 1, here turn right to and drive 54 km NW to junction route 2 in Saraburi and turn right to route 2 and drive 58 km E to junction to route 2090 S of Pak Chong here go right to route 2090 and for 22 km to N check point.
From Bangkok to Khao Yai South: Highway route 31 N Bangkok towards Dong Mueang Airport and 21km to junction to route 305, go right route 305 and 76km to junction route 33 in Nakhon Nayok and go right route 33 for 6.5km SE to junction route 3288, go left route 3288 and 18km to junction route 4005, go route 4005 and 1.5km to S checkpoint.
WHERE TO STAY
This is the most popular national park in Thailand and there are hundreds of places to stay on the road to the park nearly right up to the gates. In holidays these places may fill up quickly, so at busy times book early. There are places to stay within the national park also including 2 campsites are few bungalows in two different spots inside the national park, these have to be booked well in advance, the bookings must be done through website. DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL PARKS, WILDLIFE AND PLANT CONSERVATION.
Lam Takong Camp Site has a small restaurant. This first campsite is 6km from the visitor centre and is fairly central. A trail goes over a bridge N from here to some open grassland areas.
Pha Kluaymai Camp Site is located 3km E of Lam Takong Camp Site. It has camping items for rent including tents, sleeping bags, pillows and mats. The wash block is a bit better here as is the restaurant. A 3km trail goes W along the stream where the national parks only crocodile (introduced) can be spotted easily. The trail stops at the main road a few hundred meters from Haew Suwat Waterfall. The open space for forest bird species is located behind the first set of toilets on N side many species can turn up here such as Siberian Blue Robin. Malayan porcupines visits the campsite every night and Civets sometimes.
Indian Elephant are present here and can present dangers, often damaging cars, follow instructions inside the park on the boards, turn around and drive away if you see an elephant ahead.
There are four river drainage areas in the park The Takhong River is central and goes NE toward the Mekong. The Sai Yai drains from the E basin, then going to the S floodplains and Gulf of Thailand. The Nakhon Nayok drains the SW to the S Nakhon Nayok Province. The Saraburi Province drains W from the far west of Khao Yai.
There are over 50km of trails of varying length and difficulty, all but the easier ones requiring a guide. They vary in length from 500m to 8km+ the longest take up to 3 days.
Signposted watchtowers are located in grassland areas of the park. Nong Phak Chi Watchtower is situated 2.5km north from the visitor centre, next to a salt lick and a pond. There are several trails from the main road to this watchtower. At Mo Sing Watchtower it is possible to see birds and mammals such as gaur, gibbons, elephants.
Waterfalls as ever provide an added attraction and offer other opportunities for birdwatching. The biggest waterfall here is the Haew Narok Waterfall which drops in three-tiers 150m to the lake. The waterfall is located about 10km along the road from the S entrance.
Haew Suwat Waterfalls is 20m and located about 8km to E of the visitors centre and easily accessed from the main E roads. Or by an 8km hike from the visitor centre (walk No.4, allow 4 to 7 hours).
Haew Sai Waterfalls are located 700m N of the Haew Suwat Waterfalls. It is 8km E of visitor centre and can also be reached by road or hiking.
Haew Pratoon Waterfalls is not large and is about 1km N of Haew Sai waterfall.
For a map and full species lists for birds, mammals and reptiles see THAI NATIONAL PARKS.
About 320 species of birds have been recorded. On our arrival in the afternoon we saw Black-crowned Night Heron, Common Kingfisher, Black-winged Cuckoo-Shrike, Siberian Blue Robin, Crested Serpent Eagle, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Ashy-Wood Swallow, Great Iora, Blue-winged Leafbird, Black-headed Bulbul, Stripe-throated Bulbul, Red Junglefowl, Dollarbird, Blue Rock Thrush, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Hanian Blue Flycatcher, Large-billed Crow. At the TAT pond Brown-backed Needletail (around 50) and 2 Silver-backed Needletail, Chinese Pond Heron, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Red-wattled Lapwing, Little Egret then at the big lake: Red Junglefowl, Olive-backed Pipit, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Ashy Drongo, Verditer Flycatcher, Crow-billed Drongo and an amazing roost gathering of 12 Great Pied Hornbills at the hairpin on the way out.
Next day (6th) we tried for pheasants again turning off at the park bungalows along the road to Khao Khieo Viewpoint and between half and 1km just before sunrise we saw 4 Siamese Firebacks and Red Junglefowl. We then continued to Pha Deaw Dai wooden boardwalk. This went through bamboo and forest to a spectacular unfenced viewpoint over a cliff with a huge drop. We saw Asian Fairy Bluebird, Black-naped Monarch and then a female Silver Pheasant very close, before I noticed just behind it a stunning white male. We continued to Khao Khieo viewpoint, which is at a checkpoint and the end of the road for tourists. Brown Shrike and Raddes’ Warbler before returning seeing Green-billed Malkoha, Large-billed Crow, Emerald Dove, Hill Myna, Asian Open-billed Stork and Hair-crested Drongo with mammals such as big squirrel and Pileated Gibbons heard.
At Haew Suwat Waterfall (at 2nd Camp) there is a trail along the river where we saw: Taiga Flycatcher, Asian Palm Swift, Buff-bellied Flower-piercer, Blue Rock Thrush, Dollarbird, Greater Flameback. Then behind toilet block to the small clearing seeing Hanian Blue Flycatcher, Siberian Blue Robin, White-rumped Shama and Green-eared Barbet around campsite.
At the visitor centre: Little Cormorant, Striped Tit-Babbler, Black-winged Cuckoo Shrike, Common Kingfisher and Red Junglefowl. On the trail behind the centre and across the bridge there was Hill Myna but not much else. We returned across the road to the restaurant where we had been given info that Coral-billed Ground Cuckoos were regular and there coming out of the undergrowth were 2 of these rare and frankly odd birds. They did not hang around too long as the park staff were again catching the thieving monkeys to ‘re-locate’ them. Something was being stolen every hour from tourists, the re-located monkeys probably met a different fate.
We headed out after a great day but near the observation tower there was a road block; only a wild, stroppy Indian Elephant! From the other way the approaching Toyota sports car soon found how fast his reverse gear was. We shot by as it wandered to the side.
On 7th we went to Pha Deaw Dai boardwalk again, seeing Asian Fairy Bluebird, Puff-throated Bulbul, Moustached Barbet and Striped Tit-Bsbbler. Then on to Khao Khieo Viewpoint: Black-throated Laughing Thrush, Raddes’ Warbler, Blue Rock Thrush, and then on the road back to the park bungalows at least Siamese Firebacks, 5 on road. Birding the road here Greater Flameback, Green-billed Malkoha, White-crested Laughing Thrush, Blue-winged Leafbird and small striped squirrels. At the TAT ponds: Chinese Pond Heron, Olive-backed Pipit, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Yellow-browed Warbler, Great Hornbill, Black-winged Cuckoo-Shrike, Richard’s Pipit, Siberian Stonechat, Barn Swallow, Indian Pied Hornbill and Taiga Flycatcher. We then birded from a viewpoint along the road and then did trail at KM33 where there is a ‘Danger Elephants’ sign, most of following were seen from the viewpoint though. Great Hornbill, Blue-winged Leafbird, Scarlet Minivet, Black-headed Bulbul and then a Wreathed Hornbill flew across, but not the best view.
A checklist for the site can be found on Nick Upton’s website.
Also see Dave Sargeant’s website North Thailand Birding Main species we saw (not all we saw is listed)
- Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus
- Silver Pheasant Lophura nycthemera
- Siamese Fireback Lophura diardi
- Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
- Green-billed Malkoha Phaenicophaeus tristis
- Coral-billed Ground-Cuckoo Carpococcyx renauldi
- Silver-backed Needletail Hirundapus cochinchinensis
- Brown-backed Needletail Hirundapus giganteus
- Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis
- Oriental Pied-Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris
- Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis
- Wreathed Hornbill Aceros undulatus
- Green-eared Barbet Megalaima faiostricta
- Moustached Barbet Megalaima incognita
- Greater Flameback Chrysocolaptes guttacristatus
- Vernal Hanging-Parrot Loriculus vernalis
- Great Iora Aegithina lafresnayei
- Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus speciosus
- Black-winged Cuckooshrike Lalage melaschistos
- Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectans
- Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea
- Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps
- Stripe-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus finlaysoni
- Puff-throated Bulbul Alophoixus pallidus
- Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus
- Radde's Warbler Phylloscopus schwarzi
- Pin-striped Tit-Babbler Mixornis gularis
- White-crested Laughingthrush Garrulax leucolophus
- Black-throated Laughingthrush Ianthocincla chinensis
- Asian Fairy-bluebird Irena puella
- Hainan Blue-Flycatcher Cyornis hainanus
- Blue Rock-Thrush Monticola solitarius
- Siberian Stonechat Saxicola maurus
- Blue-winged Leafbird Chloropsis cochinchinensis
- Fire-breasted Flowerpecker Dicaeum ignipectus
- Richard's Pipit Anthus richardi
Now 66 species of mammals, including Asian Black Bear, Asian Elephant, Gaur, Gibbon, Indian Sambar Deer, Pig-Tailed Macaque, Indian Muntjac, Dhole, Malayan Porcupine, Civets, Wild Boar. Probably still Tiger, but not recently recorded.
Reticulated python Ahaetulla prasina, Chinese ratsnake, Chinese water dragon, water monitor and crested lizards
? species of amphibians have been recorded.
There are 3,000 species of plants. Siamese Rosewood Dalbergia cochinchinensis, sandalwood and aloe-woods.
Khao Yai Nakhon Ratchasima, Pak Chong District, 30130, Thailand.