How to Make the Most Out of Thailand’s National Parks in 48 Hours

Besides shopping in Bangkok, visiting temples in Chiang Mai, or relaxing by the beach in Phuket, Thailand is also home to the most beautiful national parks (there’s more than 120 to choose from).

From rainforests and waterfalls to islands and marine animals, get ready to be stunned by the untouched beauty of these stunning parks.

Here, we show you how to cover three of the best national parks that Southern Thailand has to offer within 48 hours:

Day 1

Kaeng Krachan National Park & Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

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We start the morning at Kaeng Krachan National Park, Thailand’s largest national park just two hours out from Bangkok. The park is known for its lush rainforests, reservoir, and wildlife – bird and butterfly watching are extremely popular here.

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Activities we recommend: Visit the Pa La-U Waterfall — a 16-level waterfall with a deep pool for swimming, have a picnic at any of the campsites or a simple meal at the little restaurants near the visitor centres and trek along one of the countless routes available in the park.

The park has a few visitor centres and various ranger stations that have information guides in English highlighting points of interest and the different trekking routes so it’s very easy to get around.

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Look out for hornbills, porcupines, civets and gibbons. If you’re lucky and trek along one of the quieter and deeper routes, you may be able to spot creatures like deer, buffaloes, and elephants.

Next stop, Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. Located along the Gulf of Thailand, it translates to “Mountain of 300 peaks” and refers to the numerous limestone cliffs that can be found there. Combining a mixture of beaches, mangrove forests, hills, limestone cliffs, and caves, the park is home to diverse landscapes.

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Activities we recommend: Take a boat from the Bang Pu Village and take a short hike up to the Phraya Nakhon Cave where you can see a gorgeous gold pavilion located within the cave. For stunning views of the surroundings below and beyond the horizon, trek up to the Khao Daeng Viewpoint near the main visitor centre.

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The park is home to a myriad of bird species (of about 300 different species!) as well as slow lorises, barking deer, fishing cats and Malayan pangolins in the forested areas of the park.

Inside tips: To visit, there is an entrance fee to the main attractions so get a day pass at the main visitor centre. There you will find guides and maps on the park to help you find your way around. Choose to end your day by staying in a bungalow available at the campsites located within the park, or drive back to Hua Hin and stay at one of the beautiful beach resorts.

Day 2: Mu Ko Similan National Park

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Made up of the Similan Islands, the 11-island archipelago is actually established as a national park and a great day trip can be made from island-hopping. Crystal clear waters, white sand beaches, and a rich coral life and marine biodiversity to boot, the islands can put any other beach destination in Thailand to shame.

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Insider tips: Many online tour agencies offer day tours to a few islands with some consisting snorkelling/ diving trips. If you prefer, local boat operators are also available on the mainland (Khao Lak) that can take you to the islands.

Activities we recommend: Visit Ko Huyong, the largest island with the longest sandy white beaches with waters ideal for swimming and snorkelling. To catch a glimpse of large rays and whitetip sharks, snorkel at Sharkfin Reef, located at Ko Payan. For divers, check out one of the best diving spots – Anita’s Reef located East of Ko Ha & Ko Hok.

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Expect to see schools of colourful fish, eels, turtles and rays amongst colourful hard and soft corals. On land, different bird species, crab-eating monkeys and small critters can be spotted too.

After spending an afternoon exploring the various islands and the sights they offer, head back to the mainland where you can continue the rest of your journey to nearby Phuket or Krabi.

Where’re your favourite off-the-beaten spots in Thailand?

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