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Keang Krachan NP or Khao Yai NP in early Dec (1 Viewer)

Tony Knight

Well-known member
Hi

We have 3 night and 2 full days (not enough I know :)) to visit one of these parks during a 16 day tour of Thailand. With a guide booked for the 2 days, which park would be the best to go to for bird and wildlife sightings ? And can you recommend a good wildlife focused lodge or hotel to stay at ?

Thanks
Tony

EDIT - actually this website seems to answer my question ! http://tontantravel.com/news/national-parks/best-national-park-of-thailand.html#scenery
 
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dwatsonbirder

Well-known member
Tony, I haven't visited myself, but I have heard good things about Baan Maka near KK. If there is any possibility of us returning to Thailand this December as hoped, we earmarked a few nights at this hotel. There are blinds nearby (check out ebird) which have produced pheasants/partridges and Blue pitta also.
Have a great trip - presumably later in the year?
 

Tony Knight

Well-known member
:t: With some luck, perhaps we will see you there!

Yes I'd also read good things about Baan Maka on this forum and having checked Tripadvisor. We are probably leaning towards Khao Yai at present though. It's more than just a birding holiday and wildlife generally and scenery are apparently better at KY.

Tony
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Yes I'd also read good things about Baan Maka on this forum and having checked Tripadvisor. We are probably leaning towards Khao Yai at present though. It's more than just a birding holiday and wildlife generally and scenery are apparently better at KY.

Tony

Be aware of Elephants at Khao Yai, especially at night. When we were there, there were fresh footprints everywhere.

Most people camp at KK don't they?
 

dwatsonbirder

Well-known member
Agree with Jurek, it apparently can get very crowded at times. My only experience is via a tour company doing a day trip, walking the trails around 10am in a group of approx 6 people - considerably less than optimum conditions for birding.
As an additional comment, I have read that it is possible to stay outside of the park in nice accommodation (this is what we did, but on a budget), but bare in mind that you will have to pay entrance fees each time you enter the park.
There are options to stay inside the park, with camping and hostel or bungalow type accommodations managed by the authorities - I found some helpful links for booking that I'm happy to share, but they are presently offline due to the closure of the park in light of the pandemic. I believe you can just turn up and arrange on the day without prior reservation (presumably more difficult at weekends).
Finally there seems to be some conflicting information regarding the trail - the official Thai website states that visitors require a guide on the longer trails (there are two approx 800m which can be done independently), however I've seen multiple references to people just heading onto the trails without guides and not being confronted by authorities. I suspect that the recommendation is to use a guide, but if you have a GPS you should be ok.
 

Tony Knight

Well-known member
Agree with Jurek, it apparently can get very crowded at times. My only experience is via a tour company doing a day trip, walking the trails around 10am in a group of approx 6 people - considerably less than optimum conditions for birding.
As an additional comment, I have read that it is possible to stay outside of the park in nice accommodation (this is what we did, but on a budget), but bare in mind that you will have to pay entrance fees each time you enter the park.
There are options to stay inside the park, with camping and hostel or bungalow type accommodations managed by the authorities - I found some helpful links for booking that I'm happy to share, but they are presently offline due to the closure of the park in light of the pandemic. I believe you can just turn up and arrange on the day without prior reservation (presumably more difficult at weekends).
Finally there seems to be some conflicting information regarding the trail - the official Thai website states that visitors require a guide on the longer trails (there are two approx 800m which can be done independently), however I've seen multiple references to people just heading onto the trails without guides and not being confronted by authorities. I suspect that the recommendation is to use a guide, but if you have a GPS you should be ok.

Thanks - we would probably stay outside the Park and arrive as soon as the gates open in the morning. We would hire a guide to maximise the limited time we would have there.
 
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Tony Knight

Well-known member
Just be aware that Khao Yai gets very crowded in weekends (Friday afternoon-Sunday morning). There are trains of 40 people on forest trails. I am not sure about scenery, it seemed to me that both places are about equal - rainforest and an occasional overlook from a hill...

See also: https://www.thaibirding.com/locations/locations_map.htm
Thanks yes, we would deliberately avoid the weekend. Is it ok during the working week or quite busy then too ?
 

Tony Knight

Well-known member
Be aware of Elephants at Khao Yai, especially at night. When we were there, there were fresh footprints everywhere.

Most people camp at KK don't they?

Yes we would be looking to do some night safaris too but with a guide who would hopefully keep us out of trouble.
 

BKKBen

Well-known member
Tony, I haven't visited myself, but I have heard good things about Baan Maka near KK. If there is any possibility of us returning to Thailand this December as hoped, we earmarked a few nights at this hotel. There are blinds nearby (check out ebird) which have produced pheasants/partridges and Blue pitta also.
Have a great trip - presumably later in the year?

This is definitely true - the blinds outside the proper entrance to the park (but still within the entire boundaries) would offer the chance to see some more difficult species up close, something that isn't really offered around Khao Yai NP. Blue Pitta is also actually fairly easily seen at Khao Yai NP, although December might not be the best time of year - they are resident of course, though.

Just be aware that Khao Yai gets very crowded in weekends (Friday afternoon-Sunday morning). There are trains of 40 people on forest trails. I am not sure about scenery, it seemed to me that both places are about equal - rainforest and an occasional overlook from a hill...

See also: https://www.thaibirding.com/locations/locations_map.htm

Crowding on weekends within Kaeng Krachan can also be a problem, especially around the Ban Krang campgrounds, and with the road up to Panoen Thung still closed, with no re-opening dates announced (it's been closed for a few years now), it means more people in a smaller area. Additionally, with Panoen Thung still closed, the opportunity for 'look-out' type scenery is greatly reduced at Kaeng Krachan, whereas at Khao Yai there are several sites with look-outs over valleys etc., as well as many more sites to actually visit within the park.


Be aware of Elephants at Khao Yai, especially at night. When we were there, there were fresh footprints everywhere.

Most people camp at KK don't they?

This is true; however, at both parks you are prohibited from walking/driving around aside from within the campgrounds. Khao Yai does offer night safaris for a small fee, however, and herping etc., is supposedly still not too bad around Ban Krang campgrounds at Kaeng Krachan.

And yes, once inside the 'proper gates', camping is the option.

Finally there seems to be some conflicting information regarding the trail - the official Thai website states that visitors require a guide on the longer trails (there are two approx 800m which can be done independently), however I've seen multiple references to people just heading onto the trails without guides and not being confronted by authorities. I suspect that the recommendation is to use a guide, but if you have a GPS you should be ok.

This is true of most NPs in Thailand - often guides are required even for the most tame trails; however, Khao Yai NP does have the best trail network of any park in Thailand (that's not saying a lot unfortunately), and several can be walked alone. The trails that do require a guide can be attempted alone, but you will get in trouble if a ranger finds you on one, and at Khao Yai they do patrol these trails.

Thanks yes, we would deliberately avoid the weekend. Is it ok during the working week or quite busy then too ?

During the week is absolutely fine. Given the size of Khao Yai NP, and the many separate sites within the park, you can actually find quiet places on weekends as well, but the campgrounds, visitor centre/restaurant area and major trails are usually busy, but even then, they are busier later in the morning - you can still get up before the crowds and see a lot.

In my opinion, if you're after more than just birds, than Khao Yai NP is probably better, and with your time-frame being December, then many of the colourful forest birds (broadbills, secretive forest kingfishers, pittas) at Kaeng Krachan (and Khao Yai) will be harder to find (but not impossible) because they are more active from April-June during their breeding season. And given the experience you've said you're after, I'd go for Khao Yai, especially if Panoen Thung at Kaeng Krachan is still closed and sitting in hides/blinds in not your thing.
 

jurek

Well-known member
If you do organized 'night safaris' they are a wagon full of talking Thai. You are likely to see only sambar deer, which are all day on the campsite anyway. Maybe your guide can make an individual tour in a car, this would be different.

Otherwise I parked the car outside a camping gate (so it would not get locked in) and did some driving early morning and late evening, just enough to claim that I am early/late regular tourist. I saw some interesting stuff on the roads - porcupines, leopard cat, palm civet etc. As Andy said, do not walk on foot at night anywhere near dense bushes/bamboo. Elephants are often right next to the camping. And they do easily chase people and cars.
 

GraemeS

Sporadic user
For Kaeng Krachan definitely go to Baan Maka and book a guide, they have a few on the books at different rates. We like Piak, though he can’t speak English except for bird names.
It is great for birds from dawn till around 10 am, but unless the road opens up or you enjoy blinds, it is not so active during the day. Maka may offer night walks around the lodge, depending on what the owner is up to.

Khao Yao has a wide variety of wildlife (by perception I’d say this, statistically this may not be true), but not so much amazing bird life. It’s a better “day out”, but Kaeng Krachan is stunning for bird watching.
 

Tony Knight

Well-known member
This is definitely true - the blinds outside the proper entrance to the park (but still within the entire boundaries) would offer the chance to see some more difficult species up close, something that isn't really offered around Khao Yai NP. Blue Pitta is also actually fairly easily seen at Khao Yai NP, although December might not be the best time of year - they are resident of course, though.



Crowding on weekends within Kaeng Krachan can also be a problem, especially around the Ban Krang campgrounds, and with the road up to Panoen Thung still closed, with no re-opening dates announced (it's been closed for a few years now), it means more people in a smaller area. Additionally, with Panoen Thung still closed, the opportunity for 'look-out' type scenery is greatly reduced at Kaeng Krachan, whereas at Khao Yai there are several sites with look-outs over valleys etc., as well as many more sites to actually visit within the park.




This is true; however, at both parks you are prohibited from walking/driving around aside from within the campgrounds. Khao Yai does offer night safaris for a small fee, however, and herping etc., is supposedly still not too bad around Ban Krang campgrounds at Kaeng Krachan.

And yes, once inside the 'proper gates', camping is the option.



This is true of most NPs in Thailand - often guides are required even for the most tame trails; however, Khao Yai NP does have the best trail network of any park in Thailand (that's not saying a lot unfortunately), and several can be walked alone. The trails that do require a guide can be attempted alone, but you will get in trouble if a ranger finds you on one, and at Khao Yai they do patrol these trails.



During the week is absolutely fine. Given the size of Khao Yai NP, and the many separate sites within the park, you can actually find quiet places on weekends as well, but the campgrounds, visitor centre/restaurant area and major trails are usually busy, but even then, they are busier later in the morning - you can still get up before the crowds and see a lot.

In my opinion, if you're after more than just birds, than Khao Yai NP is probably better, and with your time-frame being December, then many of the colourful forest birds (broadbills, secretive forest kingfishers, pittas) at Kaeng Krachan (and Khao Yai) will be harder to find (but not impossible) because they are more active from April-June during their breeding season. And given the experience you've said you're after, I'd go for Khao Yai, especially if Panoen Thung at Kaeng Krachan is still closed and sitting in hides/blinds in not your thing.
Thanks for all the further info Ben. If it was just me travelling and going purely for birds i would visit both sites and drop the 3 days we have at a beach resort (Khao Lak where i plan a quick visit to Laem Pakarang). However I don't think my wife would cope with 3 days at KK so I think Khao Yao has to be the answer. Hopefully the guide we have will take us to the best bird spots in the park rather than just the prettiest places :).
 

Tony Knight

Well-known member
For Kaeng Krachan definitely go to Baan Maka and book a guide, they have a few on the books at different rates. We like Piak, though he can’t speak English except for bird names.
It is great for birds from dawn till around 10 am, but unless the road opens up or you enjoy blinds, it is not so active during the day. Maka may offer night walks around the lodge, depending on what the owner is up to.

Khao Yao has a wide variety of wildlife (by perception I’d say this, statistically this may not be true), but not so much amazing bird life. It’s a better “day out”, but Kaeng Krachan is stunning for bird watching.
Thanks Graeme. Given it can't be a full-on birdwatching visit I think Khao Yai will have to be the destination.
 

Tony Knight

Well-known member
Can anyone recommend a good hotel to stay at near Khai Yai ? All the hotels suggested by our agent and on trip advisor look very sterile, carefully manicured, and artificial. None seem to have decent gardens or wild countryside next door that i can wander around with camera and binoculars.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Poland
Interesting news to me that you shouldn't walk outside in Khao Yai in the night, we did so - as we had no car, we simply had to walk from the information center to the camping, which is a good few kilometers. That's when we saw a family of procupines crossing the road. The night safari wasn't that bad because we (in 4 people) got a whole car for ourselves, but we still have seen only Sambars and Barking Deer.

We have also not seen a single elephant during 3 days in the park, not for the lack of effort.
 

jurek

Well-known member
None seem to have decent gardens or wild countryside next door that i can wander around with camera and binoculars.

For this you need an accommodation inside the national park. Outside it is all farmland, really quite depressing.

There is one hotel outside (I think mentioned in the LP) whose owner is knowledgeable about birds and organizes bird trips to the NP for you. Don't remember the name, unfortunately.

@Opisska
When I stayed at the campsite, wild elephants were trumpeting and trashing bamboo all night just behind and below the campsite toilets (the ones opposite to the ex-cuckoo). Something like 20-30 m max.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Poland
For this you need an accommodation inside the national park. Outside it is all farmland, really quite depressing.

There is one hotel outside (I think mentioned in the LP) whose owner is knowledgeable about birds and organizes bird trips to the NP for you. Don't remember the name, unfortunately.

@Opisska
When I stayed at the campsite, wild elephants were trumpeting and trashing bamboo all night just behind and below the campsite toilets (the ones opposite to the ex-cuckoo). Something like 20-30 m max.

Yeah my friend who recommended me Khao Yai could not believe we saw no elephants either - it's possibly seasonal as we heard from other people there, we went
in late October.
 

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