Trekking is the best way to enjoy parks in Asia such as Khao Yai to really spot wildlife and enjoy tropical forest, don ‘t have too much hope to spot a tiger(! still wondering what is legend and truth in all of that) but anything else you will have a good chance.
Rainy season is one the best time to enjoy trekking in Thai national parks as well, nature is awake, and waterfalls runs fully as most of them would be very dry other parts of the year. ( making tourists so disappointed!)
For trekking, you must keep in mind the best way is to hired a private professional guide and go for a 2 or 3 days trips to get a chance for real wildlife encounter opportunities. Most organized tours from hotels are very simple tour with a bit of hiking in group near very busy paths and it s probably not the best way to spot wild elephants. Meanwhile it s still a safe and good opportunity to enjoy a glimpse of tropical forest.
Trekking is the real thing to do, but a very serious thing. Most places and tours organizers in Thailand confuse trekking and hiking. Coming with a minivan and walking few hours around a minority village have nothing to do with trekking, it s hiking in a tourist world, Thai minorities have lost their traditional clothes since a while, go to China for that.
So for a great trek, you must be prepare and do not improvise your trip. I grew up in part of France where tourists and trekkers will die weekly doing mountaineering, often without company of the requested guide. They will start their trip whatever the weather is like because they “paid for the trip”, they will go on what they think is an “easy route” without a guide because they re on a budget, and on… all have probably good excuses but they pay it with their life.
Getting a guide is probably the smartest thing to do to keep safe. Don ‘t go in the forest on your own, hired a local professional who know his job, discuss with him, choose wisely as well, check their background and passion, a good guide enjoy his passion, trek, nature or photography, he’s not doing that for the money as a primary objective. Never leave without informing park authorities, if you are lost you would like them to be able to found you isn’t? Poachers in Thailand have guns, so if you plan for a long trek ( over couple of days) in the deep of the forest, make sure your guide will get some armed rangers to go with you for your security.
Here few tips from the DNP to enjoy your trek journey in Thai parks during rainy season:
“Rainy season in Thailand runs between May to October, trekking through the forest during this time doesn’t drain much energy since the weather is not sweltering. But many people are unwilling to explore the jungle during the rainy time since the entire area is rather slippery and wet. In evergreen forest it is fraught with blood-sucking leeches eagerly waiting for their victims. But all of these natural difficulties make the journey a memorable experience. Certainly obstacles scatter in every nook and cranny, but they will also bring them a challenging experiences. For a part of you enjoyable episode you should follow these recommendations.
1. To prevent water, always take a fly sheet that can serve as a temporary roof. Also bring a light-weight raincoat that can serve as the fly sheet in case of urgency. Cloths and other stuff should be put into plastic bags first before packing then in your backpack. Shoes made of Gore-tex material are suitable for trekking since they are 100% waterproof, hence making the shoes dry and ventilated well. (nota: don’t by fake!)
2. comfortable and lightweight clothes made from synthetic fiber are recommended. Cotton textile is unsuitable since it absorbs water and dries so slowly.
3. Search for perfect and safe location to make camp. do not make camp in a water course or under the canopy of big tree since broken twigs and branches might fall down. Beside fly sheet should be stretched out. Drainage ditches should be dug around the camping area.
4. Be careful of poisonous creatures like scorpions, centipedes and snakes. These animals always seek refuge in dry areas such as in the tents, sleeping bags and shoes. Please check thoroughly before using these stuff. sprinkling insecticides ( DDT is available in Thailand and work best) or lime powder around the tent setting might help.
All tourist should bear in mind that they all are responsible for keeping the natural world be just like before we step in.
Be careful while playing or swimming in a fall. Be accompanied while strolling around the area. Inform the officials if wanting to go trekking since getting lost in the jungle, falling down, being attacked by wild animals and hitting by swift rapids can occur at all time.”
Source: Department of national parks
Well that’ s a start for safety from the Dnp guys.
I will add few more, make sure your vaccines are up to date, be healthy and trained, get a complete emergency kit will you at all time, spray your clothes with DDT, be careful of water: drink from river if you need, not from stagnant waters, and avoid bath in it.
still want to go for trekking? You should get more detailed informations on specialized sites about the protection you need for tropical weather, take your camera, leave your flip flop to the Nepalese and buy proper gear !( North Face have proper stores in Bangkok, in central world and discovery).
And don’t forget to buy the trek and trails guidebook at the park headquarters for more informations about trails and options.
Have a great trek!