9 spectacular accommodation stays around Thailand’s national parks

Planning an exploration of one of Thailand’s fantastic national parks? We’ve found the best places to stay, whether you’re planning on roughing it at a rustic eco-lodge or splashing out on a night in a luxurious tented camp.

1: Khao Sok Eco Resort

Khao Sok National Park, southern Thailand


Khao Sok Eco Resort

This is one of the few eco-lodges within – not on the edge of – a national park, in this case, the wildlife-filled Khao Sok National Park, in southern Thailand. Choose from a tree house, bungalow, adobe earth house or bamboo hut, and fill your days with the fantastic excursions offered by the resort. These include tours of Cheow Lan Lake, with its limestone cliffs, overnight camping treks, bird watching expeditions and hiking excursions. Or you could just go it alone, exploring the ancient caves, waterfalls and jungle (one of the world’s oldest) under your own steam.

 

2: Anantara Rasananda Koh Phangan Villas

Ang Thong National Marine Park, Surat Thani Province


Anantara Rasananda villa

Fancy a little luxury? Book a stay at Anantara Rasananda and kick back at this luxurious resort in between trips to nearby Ang Thong National Marine Park, a popular diving spot in Surat Thani Province. The park is huge, covering 102 km-sq and including an archipelago of 42 unspoilt islands. And we’re not the only ones smitten with its beauty – Alex Garland was inspired to write The Beach after a visit. Although there’s basic accommodation inside the park at Ko Wua Ta Lap, staying off-site makes it easier to arrange organised tours – all visits must be arranged through licensed operators. And you can rest assured your stay will have minimum impact on the environment – Anantara is one of Asia’s most eco-friendly resort brands. Plastic straws were banned from all properties earlier this year and plastic bottles will be replaced by the end of 2018.

 

3: Kirimaya Golf Resort and Spa

Khao Yai National Park, central Thailand


Kirimaya Resort

Kirimaya Golf Resort and Spa can be found right on the edge of Khao Yai National Park, making access to this waterfall-filled, forested paradise wonderfully easy. You can stay in rooms, suites or tents, all of which offer breathtaking views of Khao Yai’s hills. There’s a huge range of activities on offer, along with regular events, such as the Feast on the Farm food festival, which takes place in November. Sign up for guided tours of the park to explore one of the largest intact monsoon forests in mainland Asia and to admire the wildlife, including wild elephants, gibbons and flying squirrels.

 

4: Limeleaf Eco Lodge

Khun Chae National Park, Chiang Rai Province


Limeleaf Eco-Lodge

Limeleaf Eco Lodge, on the edge of the mountainous Khun Chae National Park, comprises two main lodges and a cluster of tented chalets. The resort relies largely on solar power, although there are plenty of luxurious touches, including a spring-fed plunge pool. Stay here and you’ll enjoy wonderful views of three mountain ranges, as well as the neatly-terraced nearby hillside farmed by the local hill tribe. There’s a wide range of excursions available, including longer trips into the park during which you’ll camp outdoors and feast on local food cooked over open fires.

5: Elephant Hills

Khao Sok, Southern Thailand


Elephant Hills lodge

Elephant Hills has two camps in Khao Sok National Park, and both offer easy access to the park’s best bits, along with nearby destinations such as Phuket, Khao Lak, Krabi and Koh Samui. At both camps you’ll stay in luxurious tents kitted out with wooden flooring, huge double beds and western-style toilets. There’s a fantastic range of packages on offer, whether you fancy day-long forays into Khao Sok’s forests or longer excursions. We also love the all-inclusive aspect of Elephant Hills’ camps – you’ll only need to pay for souvenirs, alcohol and soft drinks.

 

6: Baan Maka Nature Lodge

Kaeng Krachan National Park, western Thailand


Baan Maka Nature Lodge

This small eco-lodge, near the border with Burma, is just a few miles from Kaeng Krachan National Park – the largest in Thailand. It’s the country’s top destination for butterfly and bird watchers, with over 420 species of birds and 300 species of butterfly. The best time to visit is between November and February, when the weather is cool and dry. Baan Maka Nature Lodge is especially popular with twitchers – you’ll spot them at breakfast, using their ridiculously long lenses to get the perfect shot of the birds which flock to the feeders and worm bowls placed around the lodge.

 

7: Sevenseas Resort

Hat Chao Mai National Park, Trang Province


Sevenseas Resort

The Sevenseas Resort can be found on the island of Koh Kradan, which forms part of Hat Chao Mai National Park. Book a stay in one of the 39 spacious villas and you’ll enjoy beautiful beaches, fantastic food and easy access to the park, which is famous for its wonderfully diverse terrain, ranging from white sand beaches to wooded hills towering over the Andaman Sea. This particular resort is especially popular with divers – nearby hot spots crying out for underwater explorations include Koh Mook, Koh Rok, Koh Ngai and the Emerald Cave.

 

8: Escape Khao Yai

Khao Yai National Park, central Thailand


Travel around Thailand's waterways by boat

It takes just a few minutes to get from this popular eco-lodge to Khao Yai National Park, which became Thailand’s first national park when it was established in 1962. It’s regarded as one of the easiest places to spot wildlife, whether it’s the jackals, macaques or weird and wonderful barking deer. And Escape Khao Yai is the perfect bolthole to retreat to after a day in Khao Yai. The open-air “Escape Yard” is an ideal place for a sundowner and much of the delicious food served comes from the on-site organic farm. Don’t miss the Saturday jazz sessions, either.

9: Samarn Bird Camp

Kaeng Krachan National Park, western Thailand


Samarn bird

Another popular spot for twitchers, Samarn Bird Camp, on the edge of Kaeng Krachan National Park, is run by a local Thai man with a huge passion for birds. There’s little the English-speaking guides don’t know about the park’s birdlife (or any of its other creatures) and the open-sided restaurant is a great place from which to admire your new feathered friends – birds love coming to the camp’s gardens to feed on its fruit trees. You can book a chalet (opt for one with a mountain view if possible) or rent a tent, and there’s a camping area for guests bringing their own equipment.

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