Just to add another string to its already laden bow, Thailand has about as many stunning national parks as it does brightly-coloured tuk tuks, each with its own unique features, from waterfalls to wild animals. Since it borders on impossible to see them all (we would if we could), here’s our pick of the best reserves to pay a visit to.
Composed of one of Asia’s largest intact monsoon forests, Khao Yai lies two hours north east of Bangkok along the lush Sankamphaeng Mountain Range and is Thailand’s third largest national reserve. Towering trees with tangled, sprawling roots are home to over 200 species of birds, most notably the imposing hornbills, and the thick forest houses gibbons, tigers, Malayan sun bears, Asiatic black bears, deer and a couple hundred elephants. Hiking, kayaking, rafting and night safaris are all on the menu at Khao Yai, where your camera should definitely have a well-deserved place in your backpack.
Mu Koh Surin
One for the water babies, Mu Koh Surin’s immaculate white beaches and turquoise water are straight off a typically tempting Thai postcard. About 60km from the coast of Phang Nga in the Andaman Sea, the park is comprised of five islands and boasts one of the best diving sites in the whole country, Richelieu Rock, with sea turtles, puffer fish, parrot fish, hermit crabs and hundreds more. Stay for a night to squeeze in as much water time as possible and for the real paradise island experience.
Named after Thailand’s highest mountain which the national park encompasses, Doi Inthanon is in Chiang Mai and the peak’s three waterfalls are as popular attractions as the mountain itself. Scale the 47km road to the top that winds through terraced rice fields, small Hmong and Karen tribe villages and stunning valleys and catch a breath-taking view from the top. One of the last habitats of the Asiatic black bear and the Assamese, as well as countless species of monkeys, birds and orchids, the park is well worth stopping by to try and catch a glimpse of some of the world’s rarest flora and fauna.