Khao Yai is a town just three hours from the capital city of Bangkok, mainly known for Khao Yai National Park, a sprawling eco-reserve made of 80% forested ground. However, there’s so much more to see and do there if you discard the guidebook. Read on for our list of unique Khao Yai experiences:
A Little Italy just a short car ride from Bangkok? Yes, absolutely! Experience Italian living without ever stepping a foot outside of the continent when you go to Primo Piazza, a leisure and lifestyle complex built to look just like a small village in Tuscany. Structures are made with brick and terracotta, warm-toned and oh-so-Mediterranean.
Aside from cafes serving authentic Italian coffee and gelato, there are numerous souvenir shops and restaurants on the premises, as well as a petting farm where you can feed sheep, donkeys, and alpacas. Bicycle rentals are available for those who wish to explore the area, and nightly live music in the fountain area for your entertainment.
A Spot of Tea at Thames Valley
Continue your tour of Europe by heading down to Thames Valley Hotel, modelled after a lush English country estate complete with a garden maze. Afternoon tea at the hotel restaurant (aptly named The Castle) can make you feel as though you’ve been transported to the United Kingdom—they don’t hold back on the accoutrements here.
Choose from a selection of TWG teas to go with an assortment of fresh pastries, bite-sized sandwiches, clotted cream and jam all served on a quintessential high tea tower. The restaurant also serves classic English favourites such as fish and chips with mushy peas and shepherd’s pie. You may opt to check in here, or instead search for cheap hotels in Khao Yai (ที่พักเขาใหญ่ราคาถูก) for a place to rest your head. Either way, you don’t have to be checked in to avail of the services at the Rose Spa, located right within the premises.
How about a taste of SoCal life? Thailand grows plenty of native exotic fruits and produce, but we bet you didn’t know the country has its very own wine region in Khao Yai. PB Valley has been growing its own grapes and making their own wine since 1998. Red wine grapes that produce Shiraz, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as white wine grapes like Chenin Blanc and Colombard are some of the main varieties grown on the estate.
The winery offers tastings and guided tours of the grounds, vineyards, and fruit orchards where they also grow dragon fruit and passion fruit. There’s also a restaurant that serves western and Thai fusion dishes that go best with the many varieties of wine they have on offer.
Stroll Through the Shire at Baan Suan Noi Resort
Lord of the Rings fans need not make the long trek to the Shire just to see Bag End—they don’t even need to travel to New Zealand, where the epic trilogy was filmed. Instead, they can head down to Baan Suan Noi, a resort hotel where the rooms have been built to look like the iconic smials or hobbit-holes in the movie. Resort guests can dress as their favourite characters from the fantasy series with free costumes happily provided by the hotel, and they are encouraged to take part in such classic Middle Earth activities as archery, slingshot practice, and (play) sword fighting. Reports claim that the food is spectacular and very on-brand: the resort serves mince pies, porridge, and mead among other hobbit specialties.
Step into a Floral Fairytale at The Bloom
Reminiscent of the flower gardens in Holland and France, The Bloom is over 16 hectares of pure floral fantasy, a meticulously well-kept garden home to over 30 species of flowers. It’s a delight to behold when they’re all in bloom, creating a joyful backdrop of vibrant color for your snaps. Among other Instagrammable points of interest are: Cinderella’s carriage, a gigantic Hermes bag, brightly-colored windmills, and a dreamy wisteria tunnel. There’s an outdoor playground and a sheep farm where you can pet and feed the animals.
All these and much more can be found in Khao Yai, and it’s absolutely worth skipping out of busy Bangkok to see them. Who knows, you may find even more magical surprises than the ones on this list!