Wednesday, January 31, 2018

[TRAVEL] 1 Day Trip Itinerary in Khao Yai, Bangkok, Thailand

Greetings from Khao Yai, the 'secret heaven' 3 hours drive away from Bangkok!

Have you followed my Instagram yet? A lot of people have been asking me where did I take so many beautiful pictures that I shared on Instagram -- Some say New Zealand, while others say European countries. But none would have guessed the scenic views are all in Khao Yai!

Khao Yai has been gaining much popularity lately especially during the blooming season from early November till late January. Having said that, time does not always allow me to travel whenever I want, but I am glad to make a visit there during mid January to catch the last blooms.

Travelling Tips: The best time to visit is throughout the month of December, as the blooming process is at its peak.

Click on the above map to enlarge.

Located 3 hours north-east of Bangkok, there are actually plenty of family-friendly places to explore in Khao Yai. Some of the famous ones are Palio Village, Farm ChokChai, PB Winery, Pete Maze, Midwinter Green, Khao Yai National Park as well as various themed accommodations including the Hobbit House, Thames Valley etc.


But if you only have 1 day in Khao Yai, what should you do / eat / visit there?

For a day trip, say 12 hours, you'd probably spend 5-6 hours on the road (transfer to and from Bangkok) and are therefore left with 6-7 hours exploring the whole of Khao Yai. Ideally, you can only fit 4-5 locations into the one-day itinerary. If you wish to explore further or prefer a more relaxing trip in Khao Yai, it is highly recommended to spend 2 days 1 night here.

Since mine is a day trip from Bangkok to Khao Yai, I only go for my favourite must-visit places after researching online:
❤ The Bloom by TV Pool
❤ Primo Piazza
❤ Palio Village
❤ Lunch at a local restaurant
❤ Rai Proundtawan Sunflower Farm
❤ Birder's Lodge Cafe

$$$
❤ KUL-DMK AirAsia air ticket (2-way): RM330
❤ Local sim card: THB150 with 3-day validity (RM18)
❤ Entrance fees (in total): THB 320 (RM40)
❤ Lunch (per pax): THB290 (RM36)

Transportation (can fit 4 per car):
❤ 1 day: THB3,500
❤ 2 days: THB6,500

But the truth is, I spent an additional RM400 just to fly to Bangkok because I missed flight in the morning.
Budget overblown for this trip :(

Breakfast in the car ; The instant burger from 7-Eleven is not bad!

We depart from Bangkok at 8am sharp, where the driver picks us up from our hotel. The traffic leaving Bangkok city to Khao Yai is surprisingly smooth and then we stop by at a R&R to grab some food from 7-Eleven as our breakfast in the car. Around 11-ish, we finally reach our first destination of the day...


THE BLOOM BY TV POOL
357, Moo 5 Tambon Prayayen,
Amphoe Pakchong,
Khao Yai, Thailand 30320.

Call Center: 044-756336 ext. 0, 087-799-9555
Website: www.thebloom.co.th
Facebook: fb.com/thebloomkaoyai
Entrance Fees: THB 100 (RM13) per adult / THB 50 per child
Opening Hours: 8am – 10pm daily 

True to its name, The Bloom is literally the place where all the flowers bloom! The garden landscape here is pretty vast and you can easily find good photography spots at every nook and corner.

Travelling Tips:
On average, you should allocate 45 minutes to 1 hour exploring The Bloom. But if you are a photobug who needs to take that perfect Instagram-worthy shots here, do reserve an additional 15-30 minutes.

The mid-January sunlight is really bright and warm, so just slap on layers of sunblock and pose for your best pictures.







If you’re feeling peckish, you can always grab some bites from the cafe here too.


PRIMO PIAZZA
861, Moo 6, Thanarat Road,
Tambol Nong Nam Daeng,
Pak Chong District,
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.   

Contact: 044-009-900, 081-922-9000
Facebook: fb.com/PrimoPiazzaPage
Entrance Fees: THB 200 (RM25)
Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm daily

Our next stop is a must-visit if you want to have close interactions with the adorable alpacas (a species from the camel family, but way smaller and cuter!).

I remember I wanted to visit an alpaca cafe in Taiwan last year but didn't manage to, and now I am so excited that I finally get to meet and feed these alpacas in Primo Piazza. Apart from alpacas, you'll be able to meet merino and donkey too.

Featuring multiple blocks of terracotta-toned buildings amidst the lush greenery, Primo Piazza exudes the vibes of a Tuscany dairy farm and makes me feel as if I am in Italy! Enjoying an outdoor afternoon tea here may sound like a good idea if the weather is cooler and breezier.

One good thing here is, Primo Piazza is so quiet and peaceful that I can easily spend hours here if I am not rushing to the next place of interest. The tourist crowd is very minimal during my visit on a Thursday afternoon too (Not sure about the weekend crowd thou).

Overall, just feel free to roam around and take as many photographs as you desire.









PALIO VILLAGE
Thanarat Road,
Mu Si, Nakhon Ratchasima,
Thailand 30130. 
Contact: +66 44 365 888
Entrance fees: Free (THB20 for parking)

Opening Hours:
Sun - Thurs: 10am - 8pm
Fri - Sat: 10am - 10pm 

We also manage to drop by at Palio Village for a feel of the "Italy of Thailand". At this Italian-style enclave, we are surrounded by the beautiful architecture of Tuscany which, again, makes it a great photo-taking spot.

It is also a shopping haven for those who are interested in the local handcrafts, fashion pieces and knick knacks. To be honest, the prices here are sky-rocket high just to cater for foreign tourists so I suggest only window shopping in this area. 

The crowd here is several times more than those in Primo Piazza, hence
we don't feel like staying any longer and therefore head straight to our late lunch venue.



Lunch at a local Thai restaurant

Time check. 3pm. By the time we arrive at the restaurant, it is already late and hence the restaurant is quite empty. Although it mainly serves Thai dishes, I can't even find a single Pad Thai on the menu. What a disappointment!

We then opt for some homey dishes such as the Duck Curry, Deep Fried Pork and Fried Omelette which taste okay (pretty standard). It costs us RM72 just for this simple meal (tourist price again?). Not recommended.

Travelling Tips: According to my local Thai friend, Khao Yai is more famous for the European style / cafe food, so don't bother trying any Thai cuisine in Khao Yai.


RAI PROUNDTAWAN SUNFLOWER FIELD
Entrance Fees: THB 20 (RM3)

After that, here comes the main highlight of the day: Sunflower Field! My ultimate goal of visiting Khao Yai this time is for the sunflowers, and now it is a dream come true for me to be surrounded by millions of smiling sunflowers in this 50-acre wide hilly field.

Travelling Tips: There are several sunflower fields in Khao Yai. The famous one is Saraburi Sunflower Farm which is located quite far from where we are, so we go for Rai Proundtawan instead. Another great option would be Rai Manisorn which is located not far from there.


Although Rai Proundtawan is 3 times smaller than Saraburi, the beauty of sunflowers there is not lacking at all! The field is so wide that it feels as if the entire sunflower field belongs to us. Another good thing is that, Rai Proudtawan is less known to tourists as compared to Saraburi so the crowd here is way lesser. It requires a bit of walking up the hill in order to reach the bigger, prettier sunflowers but trust me, it is all so worth it!

Once we have found our perfect photography spot there, we just don't want to leave.


Travelling Tips: Don't worry, there is no bee / insect around the field.
But you may apply sunblock to protect yourself against the scorching hot sun.

THE BIRDER'S LODGE CAFE
282 Moo 10, Tumbol Musi Pak Chong,
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
Contact: +66 44 300 185

Opening Hours:
Sun – Thurs: 8.30am - 6pm
Fri, Sat and Public Holiday: 8.30am - 10pm

It is already late by the time we leave the sunflower field and we do not have sufficient time to head to Khao Yai's No.1 tourists' favourite National Park as it requires a good 1.5 hour drive up to mountain. So we decide to do some cafe hopping here instead. 

The Birder’s Lodge is a cafe with an open wooden hut concept that makes it an ideal venue for nature lovers to enjoy some coffee and European-style brunch there. Due to time constraint, we shall leave the food tasting to our next visit in future.

After spending a long day under the sun, we have a smooth comfortable ride back to our hotel in Sukhumvit, Bangkok and reach around 9pm. All in, the driver spends 13 hours with us but no extra charge is required.

PERSONAL VERDICT

Overall, I find that Khao Yai is a great place to visit especially for couples and families. Generally speaking, I don't think guys will like it because the place is very hot and mostly for sightseeing (never ending sight of flowers and architecture). Definitely a must-visit town for photography lovers because you can easily find numerous Instagram-worthy spots in each attraction point.

"If you have seen it once, you have seen it all."
Revisit? Probably no for the next few years.

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