Nakhon Nayok isn’t an obvious tourist destination, but the small province has much to offer the adventurous traveller. Less than two hour’s drive north-east from the centre of Bangkok, the natural attractions of Nakhon Nayok make a pleasant contrast to the Thai capital. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, there is plenty to keep you occupied with hiking trails, mountain biking, rock climbing, rafting and ATV (all terrain vehicle) trips giving you the opportunity to see more of the Nakhon Nayok countryside. If you’ve never tried your hand at any of these activities before but would like to give them a go, Nakhon Nayok is a good choice. Specialist adventure companies in the province provide a range of activities suitable for all levels of experience ranging from soft adventure for novices to more advanced activities for adrenaline junkies.
Abseiling, rock climbing and ziplining
If you have a head for heights or simply enjoy getting out of your comfort zone, abseiling, rock-climbing and ziplining are offered by a number of tour operators in Nakhon Nayok. Having ziplined for the first time with Flight of the Gibbon in Chiang Mai earlier this year, any subsequent course was going to have a lot to live up to. In Nakhon Nayok, it was just a short zipline ride and hard for me to get too excited about after my amazing Chiang Mai experience. It was still a thrill though and others in the group who’d never ziplined before said how much they enjoyed it. With my fear of heights, abseiling down a cliff-face was another thing I could never imagine myself doing. I was apprehensive as I descended on the rope, but there was a real sense of achievement when I reached the bottom and I’m glad that I pushed through my fears to do it.
ATV (all terrain vehicles)
A number of companies can arrange ATV trips for you with average prices in the 100-500 Baht range depending on the length of trip and route chosen. If you’ve never driven an ATV before, they are relatively easy to handle and are a lot of fun to drive, but listen carefully to the instructions given before you set off. A guide will lead the way and offer assistance if you stall your vehicle or run into difficulties.
Thailand’s first national park covers more than 2,000 sq. kms and extends into four provinces including Nakhon Nayok. Established as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Khao Yai National Park is home to a diverse range of plant and animal life including elephants, gibbons, bear, deer and civet cats. The park is also home to a small number of tigers although sightings of these elusive felines are rare. Most of Khao Yai is jungle and grassland, but a road does run through the park with the central area equipped with tourist facilities and accommodation.
Starting from the base of Sarika Waterfall or Nang Rong Waterfall it’s possible to go on day treks around the foothills of Khao Yai National Park. For more demanding hikes, visitors can take multi-day trips into the centre of Khao Yai. Always get permission from the park rangers before commencing a trek. For overnight trekking trips you must book in advance with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) office in Nakhon Nayok (see contact details further below).
Rafting and kayaking on the Nakhon Nayok River
With an abundance of waterfalls, rivers and streams, Nakhon Nayok has gained popularity amongst Thai and international visitors for its water-based activities. And water is the theme of the royal project which is the pride of the province, the Khuean Khun Dan Prakanchon Dam (also known as Khlong Tha Dan). As part of a water management project, the dam has had a positive impact for Nakhon Nayok helping residents and farmers. A side benefit has also meant that a controlled flow of water has made rafting and kayaking possible all year round on the Nakhon Nayok Nayok River.
I tried rafting for the first time with a group of friends recently in Nakhon Nayok. I’m not the strongest of swimmers and had some worries about falling in the river. As it turned out, the course wasn’t as demanding as I thought and a guide is also on the boat so it’s an activity that is still open to complete novices like me. It was certainly sanuk although I did ache in the arms the next day. The trip started at a location adjacent to the Khuean Khun Dan Prakanchon Dam. A standard rafting or kayaking trip on the Nakhon Nayok river covers approximately 8kms and takes over an hour. A rafting dinghy with 8-10 seats costs approximately 1,800 baht for the boat. A two-seater kayak boat will set you back 350 Baht per person.
I was on a multi-adventure day-trip recently as a guest of Sarika Adventure Point (Thai language site) in Nakhon Nayok. The trip included ziplining, abseiling, ATV rides and river rafting. Thailand tends to have a more cavalier attitude towards safety compared to the West and I thought the safety briefings could have been more detailed. Having said that, I never felt in any danger with any of the activities. When it came to the rafting, the boat guide insisted that everybody in the raft wore life-vests and safety helmets which was good to see. Whoever you use for your adventure, please ensure you follow safety procedures and check to see if your travel insurance covers you for such activities.
Paintballing and BB guns
If you’re a frustrated Rambo or just want to try your hand at paintablling, there are a few options in Nakhon Nayok with prices around 300-500 baht per person. There are minimum numbers required, but if you aren’t with a group of friends you can join in with other groups. An alternative is the BB gun ranges (100-150 Baht for approximately 400 balls). Two well-known companies in Nakhon Nayok are Nayok Paintball (on the way to Nang Rong Waterfall) and BB Paintball (near the base of Khuean Khun Dan Prakanchon).
Parachute drill at Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy
Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy is a Thai military cadet training centre, but visitors are welcome to visit the grounds. Entrance is free, but there are nominal charges for some of the attractions and activities inside. Please note, you will be asked to leave some form of ID at the entrance checkpoint (passport, driving licence or ID card). Information is available from the tourism office close to the entrance. From here you can also arrange to do a parachute training drill which involves jumping down a cable slide (50 Baht per person). The academy grounds are large so you can drive your car or rent bicycles to take you around. Look out for the monument to King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), the founder of the academy. There is also a 300-year-old shrine dedicated to local hero and army general, Khun Dan.
Golf enthusiasts should book a round at the championship standard Royal Hills Golf Club in a picturesque setting at the foothills of Khao Yai. Weekday rounds are available from as little as 800 Baht. Royal Hills Golf Club is approximately 14km out of town on the road to Nang Rong Waterfall. Another good course with cheap weekday green fees (800 Baht) is the 18-hole course at the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy.
Best time to visit Nakhon Nayok
May to October
The rainy season (or green season) typically runs from May to October in Nakhon Nayok. From late May though to the beginning of September is a good time to visit to see the waterfalls and rivers at their best although September and October can see a lot of rain.
November to December
With the rainy season over but an abundance of water still flowing out of the mountains, November and December are ideal months to visit Nakhon Nayok in terms of weather.
January to April
During the dry season many of the rivers and waterfalls in the province dry up, but there is still water in the Nakhon Nayok River thanks to the dam project and rafting is still possible. Away from the water, the dry season months are a good time to go trekking or visit Khao Yai National Park.
Nakhon Nayok isn’t on the main tourist trail so unlike Bangkok, Chiang Mai or popular destinations in the south which are used to seeing lots of international tourists, English is less widely spoken. But that’s also part of the appeal of the province and from my experience I’ve found that tourists are made very welcome here. Don’t expect everybody in Nakhon Nayok to speak English so this is the perfect opportunity to try out a few Thai phrases!
How to get to Nakhon Nayok
Getting from Bangkok to Nakhon Nayok city by public transport is easy enough with regular buses departing from Bangkok’s Mo Chit bus terminal. However, once you arrive in Nakhon Nayok city you are going to need your own transport to make the most of what the province has to offer. If you don’t have a car or motorbike, an alternative would be to book a day trip with a company such as Viator that will enable you to experience many of the adventure activities mentioned in this article.
Where to stay in Nakhon Nayok
It’s possible to visit Nakhon Nayok as a day trip from Bangkok and enjoy a day of adventure. However, if you are on your way to Khao Yai or just want to explore more of Nakhon Nayok province, it’s worth staying at least one night. I stayed at the excellent Meena Villa during my trip. With comfortable rooms, friendly staff and a boutique feel, I’d happily stay here again.
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Book your adventure in Nakhon Nayok
More details on adventure activities and other attractions in Nakhon Nayok can be obtained from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) office in the city (located close to the City Hall). See map below for exact location.
TAT Nakhon Nayok Office,
182/88 Mu 1, Suwannason Road,
Nakhon Nayok 26000
Tel: (+66) 037 312 282