Khao Yai National Park, Thailand
Khao Yai National Park covers more than 2,000 square kilometers of forest and grassland in central Thailand. More than 50 km of hiking and biking trails wind through the long-standing nature preserve, and its many waterfalls include 150m-tall Haew Narok and 20m-tall Haew Suwat, immortalized in the Danny Boyle film ‘The Beach.’ The park also shelters diverse wildlife such as bears, gibbons, elephants and hornbills.
Cool and lush, Khao Yai National Park is an easy escape into the primordial jungle. The 2168-sq-km park, part of a Unesco World Heritage site, spans five forest types, from rainforest to monsoon. The park’s centrepiece is Nam Tok Haew Suwat (น้ำตกเหวสุวัต), a 25m-high cascade that puts on a thundering show in the rainy season. Nam Tok Haew Narok (น้าตกเหวนรก) is its larger cousin, with three pooling tiers and a towering 150m drop.
The park is the primary residence of, among many others, shy tigers and elephants, noisy gibbons, colourful tropical birds and countless audible, yet invisible, insects. Khao Yai is a major birding destination with large flocks of hornbills and several migrators, including the flycatcher from Europe. Caves in the park are the preferred resting place for wrinkle-lipped bats. In the grasslands, batik-printed butterflies dissect flowers with their surgical tongues.