If you want somewhere that’s easy to access and brimming with wildlife, look no further than Phu Khiao Wildlife Sanctuary. Known to be one of the most abundant wildlife spots in the country, this stunning park is located in the province of Chaiyaphum.
Stick to the Trail
Phu Khiao Wildlife Sanctuary forms part of the 4,594-sq-kilometer Western Isaan Forest Complex. This huge area is home to three other wildlife sanctuaries and four national parks. With over half of this space comprising evergreen forest, it’s no wonder that such a huge array of wildlife still remains. To access most areas, you’ll need to seek permission from the DNP headquarters in Bangkok 15-30 days in advance—without this, trailing will be limited to a smaller area. Before you can wander out on your own, you’ll be briefed on all the trails, or alternatively you can opt to have a ranger keep you company for a cost of around B500-600 per day.
Really Wild Things
Not to Miss
In this area, you can easily wander out on your own without a ranger. Surrounded by evergreen forest, the Thung Kramang grasslands offer a great opportunity to spot bigger animals like deer, jackals, and, on some days, elephants.
Mon Lake can be reached via a 5km hike, for which you’re required to have a ranger with you. Here, you can spot the endangered white-winged duck.
Where to stay
If you’re planning on staying overnight, there are bungalows for rent at Hotels.com (B1,448/night)—although they are not in great shape. A better option is to camp in the provided camping grounds (by donation) but be aware that the sanctuary does not provide any equipment, food or water, so you’ll need to come prepared.
How to get there
There is no car service to get into the sanctuary, meaning you’ll have to have your own vehicle. Entry costs are B200 for foreigners, B20 for Thais and B30 for the car. The checkpoint operates from 8:30am-4pm. Reaching Phu Khiao is a six-hour drive from Bangkok.