Leaving Cambodia, I had a few days to kill before I needed to be in Bangkok to work out my Burmese Visa and catch my flight. I didn’t want to spend the entire time in Bangkok so I began looking for alternative options. I thought about some of the islands in the southeast of Thailand, but decided I wasn’t in the mood to party or sit on a beach and just chill. So I kept searching and came across the Khao Yai National Park. I’m really not sure how I’d never come across the park before as its Thailand’s original National Park and its most visited. And with good reason as I’d come to find. It held the region’s largest remaining monsoon forest and an absurd amount of animal species. It was set then. I was going to pay the park a visit. Now to work out the details.
The main entrance to Khao Yai is on the north side of the park and nearby the city of Pak Chong. Coming from Battambang, Cambodia, I realized this wasn’t a highly trafficked route by most travelers, but I trusted Thailand’s bus system as its quite robust in comparison to Cambodia or Laos. I thought I had booked a bus from my Battambang hotel, but it turned out to be a taxi. For $6 I wasn’t complaining. After a 2 hour journey, filled with many a close calls in the passing department, I arrived at the Aranya Prathet – Poipet border crossing. At 9 in the morning, this place was pretty full. Mostly people traveling between Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) and Bangkok I assumed and also a large amount of Cambodians crossing into Thailand. After an hour and a half, I was finally in Thailand. Since just about everyone was headed to Bangkok from there, I had to turn down many transport offers and catch a motorbike taxi to the bus station which happened to be about a km away.
From there I caught a bus to Khorat (5 hrs – 190 Baht, leaves every 3 hours), and from Khorat to Pak Chong (1.5 hrs – 56 Baht, every hour). Between the actual ride time and waiting at bus stations, I didn’t arrive in Pak Chong until 7:00. I hadn’t seen any affordable accommodation that I could book ahead of time, so arrived without much of a plan, besides a guidebook guesthouse recommendation. Accidentally, I stumbled upon the actual bus station (they dropped me off up the street) and from there the lady working, understanding that I needed a place to stay, called Johnny’s Apartment, a place I’d never heard of but that doesn’t ever stop me. I talked with the German owner on the phone and he agreed to come pick me up. Rooms were 200 Baht a night. By 7:30 I was finally finished traveling for the night and ready for my first real meal back in Thailand. I ordered green curry of course.
Taxi from Battambang to Poipet Border – $6
Motorbike taxi from border to Arany Prathet bus station – 50 Baht
Bus from Aranya Prathet to Khorat – 190 Baht (1/2014 Update: 165 Baht)
Bus from Khorat to Pak Chong – 56 Baht (1/2014 Update: 63 Baht)
Pickup from Pak Chong to my guesthouse – free
Total: 476 Baht
Stay aware on the Khorat – Pak Chong bus. It’s not long and your stop is not the last. Fall asleep and you’ll find yourself in Bangkok.
I exchanged US dollars for Baht on the Cambodian side of the border with a very good exchange rate.