Khao Yai is a hidden gem, 3 hours ride away from Bangkok. Imagine a land filled with cafes, wineries, farms, flower fields and castle-looking hotels. My friend Jocelyn and I went during off-peak period recently for a short 4D3N trip and technically speaking, we only had 2 full days to explore the beautiful place. It is really an ideal place for a short getaway (besides your usual BKK) for friends, family, or couples.
We booked Thai Airways at 518.20 for 2 pax (Approx. $260 per pax) which is a reasonable price for a full-fledged carrier. We experienced 2.5 hr flight delay back but we were lucky to be given exit seats with awesome legroom!
Upon check-in before departure from Singapore, we were given separate aisle seats and the ground staff actually remembered us before boarding check-in and gave us adjacent seats so that we can be seated together. Commendable service for ground staff Norliza Rahman from Thai Airways for remembering us out of so many passengers and making an effort to commit this special arrangement for us!
We did some research for hotel accommodation and shortlisted U Khao Yai, Thames Valley, Botanica Resort. In the end we went ahead with U Khao Yai as it suits our budget and the place looks so dreamy and awesome. The hotel accommodation comes with breakfast as well. We were upgraded to a deluxe room with a balcony view and there was nothing to complain about. Good service from the reception as well.
One point to note is that this hotel is tucked quite a distance away from the rest of the places so you may want to take note of it. If you want convenience, I would recommend Thames Valley Hotel instead.
The total cost for accommodation was $350 (Approx. $175)
At Khao Yai, there isn’t any taxi or grab so we arranged a private driver to pick us up from BKK airport, 2 full days transport in Khao Yai (unlimited time), drive us back to BKK airport for departure. For transport, we spent 8000 baht (Approx. SGD333, SGD166 per pax). So it would be more economical if there’s a larger group of people to travel together to split the cost.
On personal spending, I spent a total of 4,800 baht on food/drinks/massage etc which works out to be SGD200.
My total expenditure for this trip:
Airline: $260 Accommodation: $175 Transport: $166 Food/Drinks/Massage: $200
Things to note
For off-peak season, we didn’t manage to see any sunflower fields but we got a photo spot with sunflowers at Pirom Cafe. 🙂 The sun was unforgiving so a good sunblock or mini-fan would be highly recommended. Bring a change of outfit and OOTD, as you would perspire a lot after a few hours. No advance bookings needed for cafes but you would need to take note that most of the places close at 5pm or 6pm. We missed out on the hobbit house as it was already close to evening time.
With 2 full days, we had to maximize our time and thankful to have a driver that offers unlimited time to tour during these 2 days. We covered the following places:
Day 1: The Mew, Palio Village, Primo Piazza, The Birder’s Lodge, Yellow Submarine Cafe, Thames Valley Hotel, Kua Kampan
Day 2: Please Don’t Tell Khao Yai, PB Valley and Winery, Pirom Cafe, Khao Yai National Park, Thames Valley Hotel, Ban Mai Chay Nam
- The Mew
This whimsical cafe is an ideal place for friends catch-up and offers extensive menu for food and drinks.
The thing about Khao Yai cafes are that it’s really big and spacious. So many IG-worthy spots!
2. Palio Village
I had high hopes on Palio Village but it was an underwhelming and disappointing experience as most of the shops were closed. Nonetheless, we still manage to snap some shots here and there. So if you are short on time, you can give this place a miss.
3. Primo Piazza
Situated nearby, we headed to Primo Piazza and paid an entrance fee before entering. It’s one of the highlights of our trip whereby we get to feed alpaca, donkey, merino. From afar, we can smell them and began feeding them. They look so cute!
4. The Birder’s Lodge
Another IG worthy cafe and we got lost trying to find the entrance to the cafe. LOL.
There’s a massive crowd and photo-taking enthusiasts snapping away. It is an extremely popular cafe among youngsters with its beauty. Its unique drinks such as their signature cotton candy drink, it’s a must-order but it melts away fast. Be sure to get your camera ready! We ordered thai green curry chicken and pork fried rice. Both were amazingly flavorful.
5. Yellow Submarine Coffee Tank
We made a brief stop at this cafe and took a few shots. We didn’t have the time to try out their coffee as we wanted to go to Thames Valley Hotel for high tea.
6. Thames Valley Hotel
Another castle-looking hotel that is must-visit for most in Khao Yai. It was drizzling when we reached so we only took few photos. We went back the very next day. 🙂
We had scones and tea while resting at this awesome place. Most of the areas were restricted to guests only so you may want to consider your stay here if you want to take more photos. Coincidentally, we brought almost the same dress from The Editors Market and only realise it when we opened our luggage! Seriously it’s uncoordinated OOTD. 🙂
7. Kua Kampan
After all the cafe-hopping, we made it a point to try out authentic dishes at local eateries. One of the recommendations was Kua Kampan. We were craving for local homely thai dishes and it was awesome. Besides Kua Kampan, there’s a massage place and we had a relaxing 1-hour Thai massage at 400 baht. Do note that the massage place closes at 9pm.
8. Please Don’t Tell Khao Yai
A quiet and beautiful cafe overlooking mountain that’s really worth the visit. Their coffee bar at alfresco area is really a good spot for photo and to chill while admiring the view in front of you.
9. PB Valley Khao Yai Winery
It is one of the finest winery in Thailand and is located in the valley of the Khao Yai mountains. We spent our time exploring it and took some shots. We were not wine lovers so we did not try its wine. It has an open terrace overlooking the natural greenery and accommodation is actually available! I reckon you can visit this place during daytime and another wineyard – Gran Monte Wineyard during the evening time.
10. Pirom Cafe
Another luxury cafe overlooking a massive lake – the perfect place to read a book or waste your afternoon away. It serves finger food and mainly drinks.
11. Khao Yai National Park
The third largest national park in Thailand, Khao Yai National Park is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and the first national park of Thailand. There’s numerous waterfalls to visit and we headed for Haew Suwat waterfall as it was the nearest. The park closes at 5pm and we didn’t have the chance to spend a lot of time there. But you would need to put aside at least 1.5 hours for this visit.
12. Ban Mai Chay Nam Museum and Restaurant
Ban Mai Chay Nam is another awesome, nostalgic place offering local thai dishes. The restaurant is huge and filled with childhood heroes such as Captain America, Batman, etc. You can bring home a lot of souvenirs from there as well. Our verdict? I preferred the spicy tom yum soup while Jocelyn preferred to that of Kua Kampan’s less spicy version.
Overall, Khao Yai is a great getaway for those looking for a respite from the hustle and bustle of city life. 🙂