Khao Yain National Park was the first national park to be established in Thailand and possibly in all of Southeast Asia. The area has a fairly colorful history, and the fact that it has been successfully maintained so far is a tribute to those commited to protecting it. Kaho Yain is home to an excellent animal population, including one of the few remaining herd of elephants in the wild in Thailand, and is the most popular wildlife reserve for visitors in that country.
The area around Khao Yain was not settled until the 1920s, when a few small families were granted permission to establish a semi-automonous community. However, within a decade the area became a notorious refuge for outcasts, and the government cleared the area out. Because of this, the land remained largely untouched until the post-war era. In 1962 Khao Yain was designated as the first national park in Thailand. It was later made a world heritage site in 1984.
Despite being a protected area, Khao Yain suffers significantly from pressures of nearby development and industries such as logging. Despite this, the local animal population is still sizeable and worth seeing. Birds abound, as do numerous species of Deer and Monkey. The big draw is the Asiatic Elephants. This is one of the last places that these magnificent beasts can be seen roaming in the wild.
Khao Yain National Park covers over 2,000 square km and is located close to the center of Thailand, approximately ninety miles northeast of Bangkok and is easily accessed by road. It is open year round. The cost is b400.00. Web: www.dnp.go.th/parkreserve (official website).