Train Trip to Khao Yai National Park

This week I did a three-day trip to Khao Yai by train. The highlight was a day long tour in the national park. I went with my friend Mike from Thailandee.com. We stayed at Greenleaf Guesthouse. If you book a full day tour with them, they will pick you up for free from the train station.

DATE OF TRAVEL: 28th-30th March 2023

🚂 Good morning from Rapid No. 135 train going from Krung Thep Aphiwat to Pak Chong in Northeastern Thailand. The journey time is 3 hours and 40 minutes. Ticket price for 3rd Class is 85 Baht.

[2] The train journey into Isaan is quite scenic as you have to climb over a hill. As the train has to go slowly due to the hills, they are building a tunnel and a 50 metre high viaduct as a shortcut. This will be opened next year and should provide some fantastic views.

[3] Our train arrived a little late at Pak Chong Railway Station. Waiting for us was a songtaew driver from Greenleaf Guesthouse. We will be staying with them and as we booked a tour as well, they offer a free pick up at the station.

📍MAP: maps.app.goo.gl/qs6bCegvZfcNmt…

[4] We had the option to take the free songtaew straight to the guesthouse but we decided to pay the driver to visit a couple of places first. Wat Khao Wanchai Nawarat caught my eye as it’s made from sandstone but it looks like wood.

📍MAP: maps.app.goo.gl/1pyhxJ4QxLCBqY…

[5] Lunch was at Banmai Chay Nam in Pak Chong. This is an unusual restaurant as it is also a museum of collectibles. It’s worth exploring while you are waiting for your lunch to be cooked.

📍MAP: maps.app.goo.gl/uho7zj1DNU5WhG…

[6] We are staying at Greenleaf Guesthouse. Their rooms are pretty basic but clean. There is no air-con or hot water shower. But it is only 300 Baht a night. They also pick you up at the station for free if you book a tour with them.

📍MAP: maps.app.goo.gl/amYBQf3FEZXnTD…

[7] Greenleaf has two different tours. The one we are joining today is a half day tour that costs 500 Baht. The tour tomorrow is all day and is in Khao Yai National Park. This one costs 1,500 Baht and includes the admission price. If you book both tours then it’s 1,800 baht.

[8] The first stop on our afternoon tour with Greenleaf was at Ban Tha Chang Spring in Pak Chong. This is a popular spot for swimming. There’s no entrance fee.

📍MAP: maps.app.goo.gl/Wrh97y5whoaTET…

[9] Our second stop was at Wat Sa Nam Sai in Pak Chong. There’s a cave here that has hundreds of bats. Our tour guide took us deep inside. I’ve been in bat caves before but our guide was so knowledgeable and I learned a lot.

📍MAP: maps.app.goo.gl/Vtzak1aMxV6psB…

[10] Our third stop on the tour was the highlight for sure. Our guide took us to a stretch of road where it was possible to witness countless thousands of bats leave a cave to go out hunting at sunset. Very magical to watch them.

📍MAP: maps.app.goo.gl/wfuupFb5NeFxpp…

[11] We finished our tour back at Wat Sa Nam Sai where there is a giant Seated Buddha at the top of a hill. At night it is beautifully lit up. From the top of the hill there is also some great views.

📍MAP: maps.app.goo.gl/aiuoU1czs9z99o…

DAY TWO

[12] Good morning from Pak Chong in Nakhon Ratchasima Province. I slept well last night despite no air-conditioning. I thought it would be uncomfortably hot. But the cold shower was a challenge. 🤣

[13] I ate dinner last night at Greenleaf guesthouse. I had my usual stir-fried basil with minced pork and fried egg. For breakfast I had Khao Tom which is a rice soup. Breakfast is not included as the room is only 300 Baht.

[14] Today we did an excellent day long tour inside Kao Yai National Park with Greenleaf. Our guide was not only very knowledgeable but she also had an eagle eye spotting wildlife that I wouldn’t have seen if I had gone there alone.

[15] The guides don’t work alone as they have a network of other guides in the park that help when wildlife were spotted. Several times our guide received reports of elephants. Several times we rushed there only to be too late. Then finally we got to see an elephant in the wild.

[16] The day long tour cost 1,500 Baht which included the 400 Baht admission fee to the park, lunch, and also free pickup and drop off at the railway station. I think that was really great value for money. I highly recommend this tour company.

[17] One of our group took the evening train back to Bangkok. My original plan was to do that as well as it would have been a neat one-night two-day tour to Khao Yai by train that anyone could do at the weekend. But I decided to take my time and go home in the morning instead.

[18] We stayed the first night at Greenleaf Guesthouse which cost only 300 Baht. Their website also advertised Farada Resort next door which has a few extra comforts like air-con and hot water shower. The cost was 600 Baht. I decided to move their tonight to do a comparison.

DAY THREE

[19] Good morning from Greenleaf Guesthouse in Pak Chong. We had a great tour in Khao Yai National Park yesterday. I’m really happy we saw an elephant in the wild in the end. This morning we are catching the train back to Bangkok. It has been a great trip and easy to do.

[20] While waiting for the train this morning we decided to rent a songtaew to take us to a couple of places near our guesthouse. The first one we went to was Wat Simalai Songtham in Pak Chong. It’s built on a hill with a cave near the base.

[21] Each level as you climb up has some extraordinary artwork with various religious and pop cultures themes. It is an amazing temple that is worth visiting if you’re in the area.

📍MAP: maps.app.goo.gl/WeJpvrtBbVsBeW…

[22] On the way back to our guesthouse we decided to stop at Wat Tham Phetpiman. There are a number of cave temples in Pak Chong. This is another of them. However this one has easier access and there is good lighting.

📍MAP: maps.app.goo.gl/U7eNsYW3prRPgY…

[23] We are now on Express No.72 heading back to Bangkok. The owners of Greenleaf Guesthouse dropped us of at the station for free as we had gone on their tour yesterday. Ticket price this time is 185 Baht for 3rd Class. Travel time is three hours.

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