Feeling stressed out? Need a break from your chaotic schedule?
Nothing beats the tranquility of lush, untouched nature, which is exactly what you will find at these six Asian national parks.
Khao Yai National Park, Thailand
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Haew Suwat Waterfall, Khao Yai NP. This stunning waterfall was made famous in the film 'The Beach'. Khao Yai National Park, Thailand 🇹🇭 #discover_earthpix #landscapetreastures #landscapeoftheday #landscape_capture #landscapephotos #landscapes #next_landscape#EarthFocus #landscape_captures #landscape_hunter #landscape_lovers #awesomeglobe #greatoceanroad #greatoceanroadtrip #travel #travelphotography #travelphoto #landscapephotography #longexposure #longexposurephotography #reflection #haewsuwatwaterfall #reflectionphotography #khaoyainationalpark
Just a two and a half hour drive north of Bangkok lies the Khao Yai National Park, the third largest national park in Thailand. Having been established back in 1962, the park is also famed for being Thailand’s oldest national park, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sprawling out for around 300 square kilometers, the park primarily features tropical forests and grasslands, and is home to:
- 66 mammal species
- 320 bird species
- 3000 plant species
This is one of the last remaining places in Thailand where you will still find wild elephants, not just surviving but truly thriving. In 2017, it was confirmed that there were also 18 tigers living at the park, along with:
- Sambar deer
- Pig-tailed macaques
One of the most unique features of the park are its ancient caves. Back in the day, the largest was used as a Buddhist monastery, and, today, the caves are home to millions of bats. If you arrive at the right time, you will be able to see them stream out of the cave for their nightly feeding.
Visiting the Park
The best way to explore the Khao Yai National Park is with a tour guide, as they will be able to take you to the park’s very best features. Don’t worry about having to deal with crowds of tourists on your tour though – the tours through Khao Yai National Park are usually personal, and you are unlikely to see anyone else as you make your way through the park.
Unlike some of the other national parks in Thailand, which are known for being tourist traps, Khao Yai is wonderfully quiet, making it well worth visiting.
Jiuzhai Valley National Park, China
Located in south-west China, in the Sichuan Province, the Jiuzhai Valley National Park consists of a long valley that runs north to south through around 180,000 acres. Not only is this park a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it is also a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
What makes this park so special?
Well, it is most famous for its colorful lakes and multi-tiered waterfalls, but there are a number of unique features here, such as:
- The seven Tibetan villages located within the park’s boundaries, which tourists are able to visit
- The endangered giant panda that live in the park, of which there are only around 20 left
- The endangered golden snub-nosed money
- Its 140 bird species
- In the winter months, the ice that freezes over the waterfalls and lakes takes on a mystical shade of blue, which is a rare phenomenon that only happens for a couple of weeks in January or February
Visiting the Park
The Jiuzhai Valley National Park isn’t as easy to access as some of the others on this list…
You can either take a ten hour drive from Chengdu, along a very precarious road, or fly to Jiuzhai Huanglong Airport, which isn’t easy to get to, and then take a 90 minute bus ride.
Now, due to earthquakes, as well as over-tourism, only 5000 people are allowed to visit the park each day. You will need to book your ticket well in advance, especially if you plan on visiting during the fall – this is the park’s peak tourist season due to all of the magical colors that transform the park into a living fairytale.
Ba Vi National Park, Vietnam
Vietnam’s Ba Vi National Park is famous all over the country for its outstanding natural beauty. Not only is this park home to three impressive mountain peaks, along with dense tropical rainforests, but this area used to be a French hill station, meaning that it is now dotted with a string of French ruins.
In addition to its historic sites, some of the other highlights of this park include:
- The Cactus Garden, where you will find more than 1200 species of cactus
- Trekking to the three mountain summits
- Visiting the Upper Temple on the Tan Vien Peak
- Visiting the Thien Son Waterfall and Waterpark, which is usually filled with other tourists but is still worth checking out
If you really want to treat yourself…
Book yourself in for a stay at the Tan Da Spa Resort, which is located in the national park. This luxury resort has been designed to look like an ancient Vietnamese palace, and provides:
- Natural hot springs
- Mud baths
- Herbal baths
- Many other traditional spa treatments
Visiting the Park
With the Ba Vi National Park being located just 60 kilometers from Ha Noi, it only takes a couple of hours to drive there from the city. Of course, if you do happen to be spending some time in Ha Noi, don’t forget to stop by at the OROGOLD Ha Noi store to treat your skin to a VIP facial, or even just for some expert skin care advice.
Since the Ba Vi National Park offers a pleasant climate throughout the year, you can plan your visit for any season that suits you.
Taman Negara National Park, Indonesia
Encompassing over 4000 square kilometers and being home to all of the country’s forest habitats, the Taman Negara National Park was first established in 1938. Although the park has many standout features, it is internationally recognized for being home to the oldest deciduous rainforest in the world, believed to be more than 130 million years old.
If that doesn’t impress you, then perhaps some of the park’s other highlights will, such as:
- The rare mammals that call this park home, including the Malayan tiger, the Asian elephant and the Malayan gaur
- Sign up for a night jungle walk to see some of the park’s nocturnal animals come out to feed
- Climb the Canopy Walkway, which is the longest suspension bridge in Malaysia
- Visit the local villages, which are home to Taman Negara’s indigenous people
- Go rapid shooting along the Sungai Tembeling River
- Visit the Kelah Sanctuary to feed some freshwater fish
- Explore the large caves in the park
As you can see, there is so much variety at this park, making it worth staying in one of the local guest houses so that you can really explore everything on offer.
Visiting the Park
It isn’t easy to get to the Taman Negara National Park, with the easiest way being a three hour boat ride up the Tembeling River.
If you’re the adventurous type that likes to do things yourself, making your own way there is possible, although will require some extra organization. Alternatively, if you book yourself in for a guided tour, transportation from major cities is usually included, but keep in mind that prices for these tours tend to be quite high.
Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is home to 22 national parks, but the Yala National Park is the most famous. Located around 300 kilometers from the capital, the park spreads out for 979 square kilometers, and is home to six smaller national parks, as well as three wildlife sanctuaries, within its boundaries. There are a number of different ecosystems here, from freshwater wetlands to monsoon forests, making it no surprise that the park is famous for its incredible variety of wild animals.
Want to know which animals you may be lucky enough to spot at the Yala National Park?
Well there are 44 mammal species living here, including:
- The Sri Lankan elephant
- Leopards, with the park being home to the biggest leopard population in the world
- Wild water buffalo
- Sri Lankan sloth bear
- Fishing cat
The leopards tend to be one of the park’s biggest attractions, and although more than 25 individual leopards have been spotted at the park, getting a glimpse of these rare creatures is quite difficult. If this is something that you are keen on, it would definitely be worth signing up for a tour, but make sure that it is one provided by a reputable operator.
Visiting the Park
A guided tour of this park is usually advised if you want the best chance of spotting the park’s rare animals. However, if you would like to explore the park on your own, this is possible too, with 4WD safari jeeps being available for hire at the park’s entrance.
One tip to keep in mind…
Try to get to the park as early in the morning as possible – it will really pay to be first in line this time. You will notice many of the animals are still hanging out by the trail that the cars drive on early in the day, which you will miss if you arrive later on.
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Philippines
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, which can be found near the island of Palawan in the Philippines, is a little different from the other national parks on this list.
Well, this one is located deep underground. It consists of a long river that passes through some impressive caves, including some of the largest cave chambers in the world. In fact, the river itself is famed for being the longest navigable underground river in the world, making it no surprise that the national park has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, along with the Amazon rainforest, South Africa’s Table Mountain, and other one-of-a-kind natural features.
The river and the caves within the park are home to an incredibly diverse ecosystem, one that has slowly been forming for hundreds of years. There are several types of animals here, from certain snakes and fish to giant spiders, that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Boat tours to take you through the cave system are well worth signing up for. You will be able to see everything from fossils that date back 20 million years to cave chambers studded with glittering crystals to waterfalls cascading down cave walls. Although all of these boat tours have a guide, the audio is usually played through headphones (due to language barriers), meaning that you can take these off whenever you want to experience the mysterious silence that takes over the river.
In addition to exploring the park’s caves, there are several other activities that you can do in the area, such as:
- Island hopping around Honda Bay
- Relaxing at one of the many beaches
- Try your hand at some water sports, from banana boats to parasailing to fly fishing
- Sample local Filipino specialties at the many traditional restaurants and cafes
- Visit the Palaweno Brewery to taste some local craft beer
Visiting the Park
Since the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is such a highly protected part of the country, anyone hoping to visit the park will first need to apply for a permit. These are easy to acquire, but you will need to apply for yours at least a few days before you plan on making your journey. If you decide to go with an organized tour, your tour operator will help you to apply for your permit.
Asia is home to so many fantastic national parks, many of them offering up a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Whether you want to go hiking through lush, untouched tropical jungles, or would prefer some rest and relaxation on one of the most gorgeous beaches in the world, these six national parks promise not to disappoint.