Environmental Benefits, Conservation Aims
and Commercialism Issues

Cheow Lan Lake in the Khao Sok National Park

Did you know that there are one hundred and fourteen National Parks, twenty-four National Marine Parks and several other protected sectors across Thailand? And I’ve only been to a fraction of them. As a matter of fact, thirteen percent of the country is now a secure and safe habitat in which endangered species are protected from encroachment and poaching. 

Somewhat surprising when you consider that the very first wildlife sanctuary was established here less than five decades ago. A fair percentage when you compare that to the USA, which has a little over ten percent. Below are probably ten of the very best national parks for you to view and visit. Go and grab yourself a cuppa because it may take you a little while to go through each one but it’s well worth it.

Not only does the ecosystem protect the region’s natural resources, it also helps to create an educational and tranquil recreational facility for visitors. If you have time, you should take a tour of at least one of the parks on your next vacation. In all likelihood, there should be one not far from where you are staying. I shall list the parks I consider to be the most important if not the best ones to visit.

Though this may not affect you directly, I would just like to point out that for all the park’s environmental benefits, many are a source of controversy. Fishermen, farmers, loggers, poachers and the tourist industry are often pitted against environmentalists as well as some sections of the government.

The park’s administration had come under criticism when allowing a film crew to re-landscape portions of Ko Phi Phi Ley and Ko Samet islands for the movie The Beach. Conservation and commercialism issues are frequently addressed by the government.

Khao Yai National Park

National Parks in Central Thailand 

Khao Yai is the oldest park in Thailand. It encompasses a mixture of broad-leaf evergreen and deciduous tree forest with grasslands and scrubs as its secondary growth. A variety of wildlife roams its interior including many endangered species such as elephants, tigers, leopards, white-handed gibbons and sambar stags.

Waterfall at Doi Inthanon National Park

National Parks in Northern Thailand

Doi Inthanon encompasses the highest mountain peaks in Thailand and is a great retreat for one-day excursions from Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son in the north. The park has several types of fauna and flora with waterfalls and a wide range of animals such as leopard, pangolin and flying squirrel. Bird watching is also popular with its species such as the hawk, eagle and Eurasian woodcock. 

Khao Chamao Park Visitor Center

National Parks on the Eastern Seaboard

Khao Chamao and Khao Wong are names of two mountains rising above the farming lowlands of Thailand’s eastern seaboard on route to Cambodia. The park is a tropical evergreen forest with spectacular waterfalls, valleys and caves. It is also a haven where tigers, elephants and Asiatic black bears can roam free.

Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

National Parks on the Western Seaboard

Khao Sam Roi Yot is a coastal park located on the narrowest part of the Thai peninsula overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. It’s a region of vast contrasts with sea, sand and freshwater marshlands, all backed by dramatic limestone pinnacles and caves. The forested interior of the park is home to animals such as the rare dusty langur, monitor lizard and the crab-eating macaque, while the wetlands provide a sanctuary for millions of migratory birds from Siberia.

Khao Sok National Park

National Parks on the Upper Andaman Coast

Khao Sok together with the nearby preserves paints a formidable picture of what is unmistakably the largest and most dramatic tract of virgin rain forest in southern Thailand. The surrounding peaks rise to spectacular heights while the sheer size of the forest helps protect the enormous population of elephants, bison, jungle cats, wild dogs and other endangered animals as well as nearly two hundred bird species. The park is also home to the world’s largest flower.

Arial View of Khao Lak

National Parks on the Upper Andaman Coast

Khao Lak stretches across several long scenic strips of stunning golden sandy beaches along the upper Andaman coastline. The region here is most famous for its spectacular scenery of steep rainforested ridges that extend down to the winding coast. You can relax on the beach, take an elephant trek to one of the waterfalls of the national park or dive among coral reef at the nearby Similan Islands. 

Ton Sai Waterfall at Khao Phra Taew Park  

Southern Seaboard

Khao Phra Taew National Park is located just four kilometres or two and a half miles east of Thalang on Phuket in southern Thailand. It’s the island’s last main outpost and primary evergreen rain forest. Within the park are two delightful waterfalls. Ton Sai waterfall to the west of the park is the prettiest and near Bang Pae waterfall to the east is the Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre.

Limestone Cliffs at Khao Sok National Park

National Marine Park – Western Seaboard

Ang Thong comprises of a group of 42 islands spread over a portion of the Gulf of Thailand west of Ko Samui. The region was once a haven for pirates, but now most visitors are tourists who come here for day trips to relax on the soft sandy white beaches or to explore the limestone caves and abundant wildlife in the lush virgin rainforest. Canoeing around the jagged coastline as well as snorkelling among the colourful coral reefs is also a major attraction

Ang Thong National Park

National Marine Park – The Deep South

Ko Tarutao is spread over the mostly uninhabited archipelago near the Malaysian island of Langkawi in the Andaman Sea. The region is home to a mixed population of Thai and sea gypsies but tourists come here to sample its superb diving sites, considered to be among the best in the world.

Though there may be a rich concentration of tropical fish species, the offshore sightings of sperm and minke whales as well as dugongs and dolphins are also a common site here.

Ko Tarutao National Marine Park