Introduction to Khao Yai
I’m pretty sure almost all of you have been to Bangkok at least once, if not, then I’m sure that you’ve heard about it. Bangkok is no stranger to Singaporeans due to its abundance of shopping districts and its affordable prices.
But, are you aware that there is a totally different place for you to explore, just a mere 3-hours drive away from Thailand’s capital where you can get in touch with nature and explore Thailand like you’ve never done before. Come along with us on an adventure to Khao Yai, a magical town that is a stone-throw away from Bangkok!
You’ve probably seen multiple pictures of vast sunflower fields and European towns on Facebook or Instagram, but you probably don’t know where these pictures are taken. Known for its natural wonders and its many Instagram-worthy spots, Khao Yai will not disappoint with its wide range of activities.
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It is definitely a perfect getaway for those seeking a short break from Singapore, especially for those who frequent Bangkok. The radiant sunshine and clear blue skies will definitely brighten up your Instagram feed. Plus, the temperature there is much cooler than Bangkok. So why not pack your bags, and head to Khao Yai now?
Flight To Khao Yai
The airport that you arrive at doesn’t matter. You can arrive at any of the airports, Suvarnabhumi Airport or Don Mueang International Airport. In terms of distance, Don Mueang is closer to the city centre, but in terms of accessibility via public transport, Suvarnabhumi Airport wins.
If you choose to take the taxi, the taxi fares from Don Muang are likely to be lower. If you wish to take public transport, then Suvarnabhumi Airport would be the better option.
Regardless of which airport you arrive at, it all boils down to which flights are cheaper.
Flight duration is about 2.5 hours from Singapore to Bangkok. The cheapest round-flights would be from budget airlines like Jetstar where prices can start from as low as $115! For better airlines such as Singapore Airlines, it can cost up to $363 (as of 4/2/2019). Depending on the time that you arrive, you can consider staying a night in Bangkok before you depart to Khao Yai.
Tip: When booking your flights, always try to avoid Thai public holidays and weekends because Khao Yai is a place for many locals to escape from reality. It’s similar to how we often visit Malaysia for a short getaway! This way, you can skip all the waiting time and long queues at all the attractions.
I was unfortunate enough to have experienced first-hand the massive crowds during my visit to Khao Yai a few years back. I definitely do not want you to waste your time fighting with the crowds when the time could be well spent admiring the surroundings instead.
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When to visit Khao Yai
Is there a best time to explore this quaint town? We’ve come up with a detailed article which sums up the pros and cons of the different seasons Khao Yai has to offer.
Getting to/getting around Khao Yai
The best way to get to Khao Yai is by car which would be about a 3-hour drive from Bangkok and so, I would recommend hiring a personal driver to bring you around for your trip. This is a much better option compared to self-drive because I’m pretty sure you don’t want to drive on foreign roads and deal with the horrible Bangkok traffic.
You can get to Khao Yai from Bangkok via the Saraburi-Pakchong Route (Highway 2) where there are many attractions along the way, and you can easily plan your itinerary from there; or the Prachinburi Route, lined with steep slopes and sharp turns which may make the car ride uncomfortable.
Depending on the package that you signed up for the private car hire, the maximum number of hours for charter service per day differs. Do remember to check this information with the company you are booking with, and also check for the overtime fee for the driver. A saloon car would be able to fit a small group of 3-4 pax whereas a van can accommodate up to a maximum of 10 pax. When you are making a booking, do prepare your itinerary as some companies require you to send it to them.
There are several websites for you to book your private transport. You can either choose their packages with the tour itineraries planned out for you, or you could choose to plan it yourselves. Klook offers a myriad of packages ranging from $170 to $703, depending on the duration of stay. Some of these companies offer direct pickups from the hotel and the airport.
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As of 20/2/19
1 SGD = 23.18 THB
The denomination of coins is as follows: 1, 2, 5 and 10 baht, and 25 and 50 satang
The denomination of banknotes is as follows: 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 baht.
- 10 baht coins and the 100 baht note are most commonly used.
- 25 and 50 satang coins are usually not accepted at many small businesses. Despite this, they are still being given as change in supermarkets. So try to spend all your satang coins at larger supermarkets to clear your coins before leaving the country!
- Change your larger notes to smaller ones at convenience stores like 7-11 and shopping malls. If you tend to purchase from smaller businesses like street stalls, it is highly unlikely that they will have sufficient change for you. Then, you would have to wait for them to ask around the other stalls for smaller notes. while you stand there awkwardly watching them jump from store to store, to get that small change.
Basic Thai Phrases
It is important to know a few basic Thai phrases as they may come in handy during times of need!
- Hello = Sawatdii
- How are you? = Sabaaidii mai?
- Thank you = Khop kun
- Sorry = Khot hort
- Goodbye = Bai
- Can you speak English? = Kun pood paasaa anggrit dai mai
- My name is __ = Pŏm / Chán chuu __.
- Do you use the meter? = Chai meter mai (Be sure taxi drivers use the meter in Bangkok!)
- Stop = Yut
- Excuse me = koortoot
- Bathroom = Hongnaam
Do’s in Khao Yai
- Bring lots of mosquito repellent to fend off the mosquitoes. I’m pretty sure you don’t want to be kissed by these insects.
- Stop whatever you are doing and stand at attention when the Thai national anthem is played. They are played at public places at 8 am and 6 pm daily.
- Dress appropriately when you are visiting temples or they will bar you from entering. Dressing inappropriately will give the impression that you do not respect their culture.
- Take off your shoes when you are entering any temples, homes or some shops.
- Respect the monarchy. One example is treating the coins and banknotes with respect since it bears portraits of the King.
Don’ts in Khao Yai
- Use your feet to point at things as feet are considered dirty in Thai culture.
- Touch anyone’s head. It is deemed the most important part of someone’s body.
- Handle any Buddha images with disrespect as it has sacred value.
- Take any Buddha images out of the country. Stores will sell them to you but they won’t tell you about the regulations.
Note: The above list is just a few of the do’s and don’ts in Thailand, but it is not exhaustive.
Read also: An Alternative to Bangkok: Hua Hin
Final Thoughts on Khao Yai
Have you always wanted to travel to Europe, and at the same time, prevent creating a black hole in your wallet? Well, Khao Yai is your solution! It is the ideal holiday spot, given the endless surprises it has to offer. I have to admit, Khao Yai is definitely one of my favourite places in Thailand and I dare to say that I enjoyed every single moment there.
To the millennials that are reading this, you definitely won’t run out of ideas for your Instagram feed when you are here. Plus, the cool weather in December surely made my trip ten times better, if it’s even possible. It is also perfect for family trips, regardless of whether it consists of young or old.
I actually visited Khao Yai with my 80-year-old grandmother and she found our 4D3N trip enjoyable as well! So what are you waiting for? Hurry and book the next flight to Khao Yai now! Prepare yourselves for the adventure of your life in Khao Yai.