Tuesday, 6 January 2015

An adventure in Khao Yai - Thailand

We did a 10 days holiday with our friends in Thailand last month, 4 nights in Khao Yai and 5 nights in Bangkok. Khao Yai is about 2 hours away from Bangkok, and it really is a gem within the country. It's tranquil, beautiful and the most perfect was its weather! Owing to its elevation, it has a mean temperature of 23 degree celsius throughout the year.

I do think it's a lovely getaway from the urban. It seemed like a place where most of their locals would go for a retreat. Most of the locals there do not understand or speak English. Mastering some basic Thai might have eased us a little.

We booked a driver to pick us from the airport, and he brought us through the journey of our stay in Khao Yai. My man however thinks you might be able to self drive as traffic is light. Most signage are in Thai, but just make sure you've a reliable GPS and be extra cautious when driving at night. Road lamps aren't common in some areas.

We booked our stay with Thames Valley, an English-style countryside hotel with scenic view not too far away from your doorstep. It convinced me to be extremely near nature with its breathtaking view and chirping sound of crickets in the night. A nice hotel, except that ermm... on some nights, a different cricket would appear in our bathroom. Not a nice surprise, I thought. Other than that, great service, great room and awesome breakfast spread! And thankful for a husband who catches crickets.

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Our room

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Great morning sight!

There are lots of nice and pretty hotels within Khao Yai for anyone's budget and exploration!

Here's what we did during our days in Khao Yai:

Book your tour session early to avoid disappointment. We were turned down because of a full session they had on our day of visit. We booked our tour for the next day instead. 

The approximately 2 hours tour brought us through a video session, a cow milking session (volunteer hands on for adults) after which we hopped onto a 'tractor' to different stops for animal feeds, animal show, cowboy lassoing and live demonstration of a sheepdog herding the sheep. The kids enjoyed every part of it, except that the tour was guided in Thai language.

I love anything dealing with animals, they are so therapeutic. A must visit if you're there with kids.

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With cows' asses... haha!

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I volunteered to milk the cow!

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Feeding the deer!

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Milking the calves

I love it that we include kids' activities for every family holiday. Be it educational or simply fun, I hope they will bring home some good memories too. When I travelled with my parents as a child, I had really enjoyed the theme parks and any animal encounters. I hold dear to the memory when my parents brought me to Aussie, to feed and roam with kangaroos, and a very vivid moment of me milking some sheep when we were in New Zealand. Memories are lasting. While I create the best out of them, it's so essential that Js won't only remember tailgating the shopaholic, me during vacations.

Back to the farm. After visit, you may buy their Ummm!... milk at their shop after exiting the farm. It's soooo fresh and good!

2. Jim Thompson farm
We filled half a day at the Jim Thompson farm. It's open for tour only from mid December to the first week of January. 

The Jim Thompson farm tours provides a unique opportunity to observe up close and personal the full life cycle of the silkworms and the silk farming process as part of the Isan (Thailand's largest region) way of life. Other highlights include a tour of the vegetable plots and ornamental plant nursery. It's also rich in culture where you can view and know more about the traditions of the Isan. At Isan village, it presents an exquisite beauty of architecture in various styles, like traditional houses and religious buildings.

The journey was self toured. We boarded a tram and alighted at the different key attractions to explore. As much as I tried to appreciatie the art of sericulture, most labels and processes were described in the Thai language. Went for the displayed visuals instead.

My favourite part of the tour was its garden of very colourful flowers, which got sunnier with a pumpkin patch. Great pictures we had with it.

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Vibrant colours

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Traditional golden yellow Thai silk and the Chinese hybrid white cocoons

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Larvae

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Weaving the strands of silk
Other than farm made snacks, there were also interesting assortment of selected merchandises and traditional hand woven textiles available for purchase at their market and souvenir shop.

3. GranMonte asoke valley
We visited a winery! Kudos for allowing kids in (Kids below 5 tour free, though I think all kids below legal drinking age should enter free. Ha!). We recalled how tough it was to search for some kids friendly winery in our Napa Valley experience. And of course, if you've been to wineries in Napa Valley or France, you'll probably want to give this a miss. Tour experience and wine wasn't as great-tasting as those. Or maybe it was an acquired taste. It's interesting though, to know that there are vineyards in Thailand. If you haven't been to one, this is definitely worth a visit, and probably the nearest to us.

GranMonte Asoke Valley Winery is their estate’s brand new winery, which began its operation in late January 2009. If you're there are there on a weekday, you will need to pre-book your tour. Tour comes with a wine tasting session. Selected wine only. Tour is conducted in English.

We were brought through its vineyard, winery and then finally wine tasting at its Cellar door.

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Wine tour

We spent some time shopping at their cellar door, where you can purchase wine and some home made goods. We fell deeply in love with its grape juice (ironic I know). Bought some and of course, it didn't last us too long.

We had dinner at its restaurant, VinCotto. Reservation is required during peak season (Nov to Feb). View was lovely with a running stream of water just to its side, but food was rather average.

4. Palio
Palio is a visually charming outdoor shopping centre. And remember, the weather I mentioned? Shopping will definitely be a pleasure, even if nothing appeals to your wallet. It's very much built up like shops in Italy, modern and unique. There you find confectioneries, restaurants, souvenir, local produce, apparels and bags, with good chance of bumping into a street entertainer. Don't forget your tip of course. Bargaining opportunity is almost zero as most prices are stated upfront.

The shopaholic in me didn't leave much fruitful. Nothing really appealed me. If you're planning to venture into Bangkok, then hold your pocket for greater stuff ahead.

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Felt like I was in Italy

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'Musician' playing music on his water glasses

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All so sweeeet!

And if you chance upon these baby pineapples, you ought to give them a try! Our friend highly recommended it, and I tried. All so sweetlicious! It was however a tough find in Bangkok. My best buy from Palio.

5. Khao Yai National Park
It's been some long while since we did a National Park. Hurray for stepping foot into nature again. The air was so good! Khao Yai was Thailand's first national park. Today it is the second largest national park in Thailand and, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. While there were many things to do within the park, we visited only the Haew Suwat waterfall. Observed water gushed off its 20m cliff into the river. If you're into waterfalls, there's another spectacular one within, the Haew Narok falls. 3 tiered with height of about 150m.

The waterfall view was really spectacular. And of course, don't just watch. Trek down to dip those feet into the icy cold river. It's the best cold spa ever! 

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Haek Suwat waterfall

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Dippy dip for cold foot spa!

National parks in Asia are significantly different from National Parks in Utah. It's more dense and forested here. Green's good for the eyes after all. We did pit stops at scenic views for pictures too. While hoping for some luck to run into an elephant crossing the road, we were greeted by deer and macaques instead.

And when greeted by yet another breathtaking view, with luxurious space, you just can't stop snapping.

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As always, candid shots by the boy

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Great background

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Nature goes with natural

And these summed it all up during our stay in Khao Yai. Worth a visit for sure. Will be sharing on our experience in Bangkok next up. A popular destination for shopping, I bet everyone knows. How did I manage my black belt shopping and 2 kids in there?!! Stay tune.

37 comments :

  1. Hi,wonderful diary and journey you had.
    Can I know how do you travel in khao yai from each attractions to another?by tour guide?

    Hope to hear from you

    Thank you

    Ruby

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ruby, we booked a driver, along with his van to bring us from places to places. He doesn't really guide us within these attractions, we specified where we wanted to go, he drove us there and picked us up when done. Hope this helps.

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    2. Hi Mum's Calling,

      May i know your driver contact or the way you book with the driver....

      Many thanks & regards,

      Pei Yan

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  2. Thanks for your prompt reply:)
    Do you recommend us to find tour guide or Iits very easy to tour by ownselve?
    Which airport should I stop by? Bangkok airport and get the driver to send us to khaoyai?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ruby, definitely recommended to get a tour guide or driver. Self drive or self tour is not easy, as road signs may not be in English and some areas are pitch dark in the night. Yes, Bangkok airport. Arrange your driver to pick you up from there and begin your tour from there.

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  3. Hi Ruby, may I know how much did you paid for hiring a personal driver during entire trip at Khao Yai? Does the price includes picking up from BKK airport to Khao Yai, and then back to BKK? I'm looking for a personal driver for my trip to Khao Yai during the mid year :)

    Hope to hear from you soon, thank you! :)

    Cheers,
    Kace

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kace, not sure if your question is meant for Ruby or me (Mum's calling), I'm Karen. If for me, I can't really remember how much we paid as we shared it among 3 families. Might be a little pricey as it was a mini van we had. And yes, includes picking and sending back to airport. We went into the heart of BKK for shopping, so he sent us there instead.

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    2. Hi Karen, omg I'm so sorry. I thought Mum's calling is ruby, I mixed it up :( Thanks anyway for the information :)

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  4. hi Ruby, do you mind to share the driver contact and may i know how much perday/per vehicle?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Fish, not sure if your question is meant for Ruby or me (Mum's calling), I'm Karen. If for me, I don't have a rate of the driver we hired. He doesn't seem to drive anymore, but you may source for driver here: www.orientalescape.com. My friend booked theirs here, pick and send to airport too.

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    2. Opss.. sorry Karen (Mum's Calling). I read wrongly and thought Ruby was your name. Thank you so much for the info.

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  5. Hi Karen,

    Can I know do you book a ranger for national park visit? Or you just walk by your own for that waterfalls view?

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  6. Hi Aeress, we didn't book a ranger as we didn't explore the park extensively. Only the waterfall, Which was really breathtaking!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Karen,

    May I know how did your friend book a driver through Oriental Escape that goes to Khao Yai? I went to the website and only saw transfer packages from BKK to Khao Yai. Not sure if that is the one that your friend booked? Because it states "transfer" so I'm not sure what that means, if it's just bringing us to Khao Yai only and nothing else or it's possible to bring us around Khao Yai.

    This is the link: http://www.orientalescape.com/thailand/transfer/rates.php?city=bangkok&area=A5&line=3&language=en

    Let me know!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi E, she said it doesn't look like this link. You can call them to enquire about hiring a car/van with driver from BKK to Khao Yai, together with the required dates. They will quote base on the number of days.

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  8. hi Karen, just check is Thames Valley resort very deep in and not really in city? I am bringing my 3 kids this December thinking should I stay inMu Si city, Pak Chong or out rural area. thanks

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    Replies
    1. Hi Shian Li, am not familiar with the cities mentioned, but the resort is about 25km from the main highway 2 and 150km from Bkk airport.

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  9. Hello Karen,
    can i ask if it is convenient to travel within Khao Yai? is there like taxis available within Khao Yai to go to the different attractions?
    Thank you! :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Clarice, we didn't see any taxis around. A best way to get about would be to hire a driver who knows the place well. Or if not, you may self drive if you're adventurous enough.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Karen, thanks for the reply. Is your driver the same driver that sent your family to Khao Yai? Or is it possible to hire a driver within Khao Yai?

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    2. Yes, we had the same driver throughout. From airport to Khao Yai and then to Bangkok. We left him only upon arriving in Bangkok. It would be better to pre-book your driver to drive you in Kaho Yai.. Our friend recommended here: http://www.orientalescape.com/thailand/transfer/rates.php?city=bangkok&area=A5&line=3&language=en

      Delete
  11. Hi Karen
    Do you have the itinerary of your Khao Yai trip that you can share? Im trying to draft out one, but am unsure of the time needed for the attractions plus travelling and wonder if we need to spread the above activities across 2 or 3 days.... Thanks in advance!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Cheyenne, we don't have a firmed itinerary. The attractions are covered in this blog post. We planned a very relaxing itinerary with each attraction allocated a day. Any leftover time, we roamed around, do long meals or retreated back to hotel for rest.

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  12. Hi Karen, I plan to visit khao yai. Can u recommend to me the driver n how can make pre-booking?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Poh hin, the driver we used is no more available for hire. You may try pre-booking a driver here: http://www.orientalescape.com/thailand/transfer/rates.php?city=bangkok&area=A5&line=3&language=en

      Delete
  13. Hi karen ,i plan to leave bangkok early morning to khao yai,and along my way just visit those farm and wineryand late check in to hotel do u think this work ?

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    Replies
    1. Hi, you will have to depart real early in the morning, as travelling time could be between 3 to 5 hours (factoring bad traffic). If you arrive too late, not sure if you will be in time for farm or wine tours.

      Delete
  14. Hi Mum's calling, do you have the driver through the trip in khao yai?
    If so , do we need to provide accommodation for the driver?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dolly Betty, Yes, we have the same driver throughout Khao Yai. And nope, we don't have to provide meals or accommodation for the driver :)

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  15. Dear Mum's Calling

    Your travelblog for Khao Yai inspired me to customize my December holiday to Khao Yai. You mentioned no hire of park ranger for your visit to the Khao Yai National Park. Are there road signages to lead us to Haek Suwat waterfall? Appreciate your kind advice please. Thank you

    Chloe Gan
    Singapore
    Apr 12, 2017

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi mummy,

    We plan to visit Khao Yai this summer. Would like to find out if it is a bearable 2-3hr ride from BKK to Khao Yai for kids. I have a 4 year old. Did you stop midway and where was it?

    I also checked with Oriental Escape on the rates. But it was super expensive!

    Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi! The ride was alright for us. The kids had friends as companions. We had a mini van, and the driver played movie for the kids. Yes, we stopped for lunch, but can't recall where. We merely told the driver we needed a stop for lunch and toilet :)

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  17. Any difficulties to walk to see the Haek Suwat waterfall? Is it recommendable if there r elderly in the group?

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    Replies
    1. Hi YY, I can't really recall, but we had very young kids along and 'hiked', it should be fine for elderly. We didn't explore the entire park though.

      Delete
  18. I think ppl can try https://www.klook.com/activity/1596-private-car-charter-thailand-bangkok/
    Saw a lot of YouTube videos that they book drivers from there.

    ReplyDelete

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