A nature and wine lover’s paradise, Khao Yai is in a lush, tranquil world of its own

Only a two  hour drive from big, bustling Bangkok, Khao Yai is a back-to-nature escape in the Nakhon Ratchasima province. Here, the cooler climate makes exploring the rainforest, wineries and surrounding countryside a pleasure. Prepare for a few surprises such as whimsical, European-styled castles and villages, including Primo Piazza known as ‘Little Tuscany’. And don’t miss Khao Yai’s contemporary Art Museum where intriguing creations by leading Thai artists are dotted around landscaped grounds.

Things to Do

Lace up your walking boots and choose from six hiking trails in Khao Yai National Park. Spread over 2,000 km² of jungle and grasslands, this UNESCO World Heritage site is the oldest and third largest nature reserve in Thailand. Follow the path up to Khao Laem for show-stopping views of the mountains. Feel the cool spray from waterfalls thundering down, including the 20m-high Haew Suwat made famous by the film ‘The Beach’. And keep your eyes peeled for any deer and gibbons swinging by – you might spot a bear or an elephant if you’re lucky.

Join a guided tour followed by a tasting session in one of Khao Yai’s many vineyards. The largest in the area belongs to the PB Valley Khao Yai winery. Their ‘Sawasdee Shiraz’ perfectly demonstrates the quality of Thai wines. The sight of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes growing alongside white wine varieties such as Chenin Blanc and Colombard gives the impression of being in the French countryside. That’s where a stroll through the winery’s dragon fruit and passion fruit orchards will remind you that this is still tropical Thailand. 

Scenical World, a hugely popular amusement and water theme park, promises plenty of fun and excitement. Little ones will love flying around in the space rocket carousel and whizzing down the water slides. There’s also a Lazy River and wave pool surrounded by beach chairs. Thrill seekers can test their nerve with the bungee ride or on the ATV racetrack. While over at Farm Chok Chai, Southeast Asia’s largest working dairy farm, kids get to milk a real cow and then make fresh ice cream with what they collect.  

Top Tip from SLH

For an authentic wildlife experience, join a night safari. You’ll venture deep into the dark jungle to observe nocturnal animals hunting, feeding and playing.