This December, we went for a 6-day trip to Khao Yai and Bangkok with another couple and their 6-year old son and it was such a fruitful and relaxing trip for us that we have plans to revisit Khao Yai again next year. In this post, I will be sharing some useful travel tips and reviews on the hotel and places we have visited in Khao Yai.
Upon arrival at the Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, the officers saw our passports and straightaway directed us to the automated gates reserved for Singaporeans. My friends went to the Priority queue which was even shorter as they have a child with them. The automated system would record your photo and fingerprint at the gates but it was not user-friendly at all even though the queue was considerably shorter. I had to retry a few times to get through.
My husband did not stamp his passport at the counter outside the automatic gates and was not allowed to pass through during departure as the officer couldn’t find the arrival date in his passport. He was then directed to wait at the immigration office while the officer checked back the flight details 6 days ago and stamped his passport. Fortunately, we didn’t missed our flight due to the delay.
Tip #1: Remember to stamp your passport even though you are using the automated gates at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
We have arranged for a driver to fetch us at the airport who would be driving us to Khao Yai which was roughly a 3-hour drive from Bangkok. There were many things the driver could have done for us to make our trip better but he didn’t, and he even wanted to charge us 100 baht extra for every hour after 6 pm daily even though we are already paying him 3000-3500 baht per day for the 3 days in Khao Yai.
I negotiated with the driver and told him that we’ll only reach Suvarnabhumi Airport at 2 pm, hence, it was unreasonable for him to charge us extra after 6 pm as we were already paying him 3000 baht that day. He agreed to start charging extra after 7 pm which doesn’t make much difference anyway. The car he arranged for us was also too small as the kid had to sit on my friend’s lap and it was a tight squeeze at the back.
Our first meal in Thailand was also a major rip-off as the driver brought us to a very expensive restaurant to eat. We only ordered soup, vegetables, chicken, omelette and coconut juice (no seafood was ordered) and the damages came out to be 2100 baht (around SGD$85)! The receipt was all in Thai and the driver was not helpful to help us interpret if we were even billed correctly.
Tip #2: Always ask the staff to point each item of the receipt to the dishes on the table to verify that the bill is correct.
Safari World Bangkok
I would recommend that you visit Safari World straightaway after you reach Suvarnabhumi Airport as this place is nearer to the airport than from Bangkok. We visited Safari World close to its closing time at 5 pm and only had enough time to see wild animals at the Safari Park from the Safari van. It was indeed a spectacular experience seeing so many wildlife animals out in the open.
As we bought the tickets at the door, it was much more expensive than buying them online from KLOOK. We intend to visit Safari Park and Marine Park another time and would definitely purchase the tickets online at least one day prior to save money. On a side note, my friends bought KidZania Bangkok tickets from KLOOK and told me they save around 50% and their son absolutely love KidZania Bangkok at Siam Paragon.
Tip #3: Check out KLOOK for package options at a discounted rates before your visit (Disclaimer: KLOOK didn’t sponsor me anything to write this).
Ban Mai Chay Nam Restaurant
Our driver brought us to Ban Mai Chay Nam Restaurant in Pak Chong which is a very popular tourist destination as it is a restaurant, antiques museum and hotel all rolled into one. Our verdict of this place was that it was nothing spectacular and the food portion size was small and tasted only mediocre. The dishes were reasonably priced though. A few of the dishes we ordered were sold out and they took so long to tell us so we waited for nothing.
We were really surprised the staff’s English was so poor despite having bus-loads of Singaporean tourists visiting them every day. If you are into retro stuff, antiques and collectibles (think Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe), you can pay a visit to this place. The minimalist in me cringed as I walked around this place as I do not like hoarding antiques around my house.
Tip #4: Visit Ban Mai Chay Nam Restaurant only if you love collecting antiques or to see what’s the hype about this place as the food is just average.
Escape Khao Yai Hotel
We all enjoyed our stay at Escape Khao Yai which provided great respite and escape from the bustling city life and lots of mountain fresh air! My friend’s son really love the complimentary buggy ride around the hotel premises (this hotel is huge!) as well. On our last night in Khao Yai, we had dinner at the hotel’s Green Oak Bistro and the food was really good especially their thin-crust pizza!
Bikes for rental at Escape Khao Yai.
My only gripe was the tap water as I felt the water was too ‘soft’ and my skin still feel very soapy after showering for a long time. I do not know if this applies to the water supply in the entire Khao Yai or it’s just in this hotel only. I had to use mineral water to rinse off one last time before stepping out of the shower.
We decided to go to GranMonte instead of PB winery as its ratings were higher on TripAdvisor. We heard from our driver that there was usually a longer wait for the vineyard tour at PB and GranMonte was also more exclusive and less crowded.
The vineyard tour shows visitors the different varieties of grapes, processing plant and bottling area and also includes free wine tasting at the end of the tour.
We also bought a dozen bottles of grape juices and 4 boxes of raisins at the café and had a pretty relaxing time at this beautiful place. I think older kids would be able to appreciate and enjoy the educational tour at the vineyard better.
We actually told the driver we wanted to see sunflowers but he brought us to The Bloom first and there was no sunflowers there. We each bought a package tour (300 baht) which includes a tour around the garden, a buggy ride around the compound outside, a mango drink and cake. The garden was pathetic, bare, withered and disappointing. The only thing that was nice was the mango drink, otherwise, everything was a complete waste of time here.
As there was nothing much to see at The Bloom, we left the place within 45 minutes and the driver brought us to a better sunflower field which even had a small enclosure for kids to feed the farm animals.
My friends were really looking forward to bring their kid to this place as there were so many activities for children such as horse riding, ATV, feeding farm animals, etc. However, we were greatly disappointed as the farm tour tickets were fully sold out for the day even though we reach the farm at 9.30 am and were being turned away. We guess that some agents must have purchased bulk tickets for their tour groups and did feedback to our driver that he should have helped us pre-booked the tickets so that we need not make a wasted trip.
Tip #5: Do informed your driver to help you pre-booked or buy the tickets prior to your visit to avoid disappointment.
This is a great place to take insta-worthy shots to up your insta-game if that’s your thing as there was nothing much to buy in the shops and nothing to do here except to take photos or enjoy a nice cup of tea and cake at one of the sidewalk cafes. There is a cat café here too if you wish to pay a visit.
The Primo Piazza was another beautiful place to take photos and that’s about it. The area for feeding animals was small and there were only a small number of alpacas, merino and donkeys there.
This pretty much sums up my 3-day trip at Khao Yai and we drove to Bangkok after that. As we visited Khao Yai on the first week of December, it was still rather hot and humid. If we were to revisit Khao Yai again, we would definitely go during late December where the weather is more cooling.
If you want my driver contact, you can WhatsApp Jerry at +66 90 496 1297 and negotiate the price with him. As Jerry couldn’t drive us for this trip, he sent us 3 different drivers each day and after receiving our feedback for the first driver on Day 1, he did apologize and sent us better drivers on Day 2 & 3. I hope you find the travel tips useful! 🙂