Into the wild

Kaeng Krachan National Park. Pongpet Mekloy

On Saturday, a whole host of events will be held to mark National Children's Day. If you're one of those parents who dread the idea of scrambling around among hysterical crowds of youngsters, but still wish to do something special with your little ones, how about taking them away from it all? Let's go camping!

With the New Year holidays over, peace has returned to most national parks. Their campgrounds are once again ideal for those seeking a chance to enjoy quality time with their families.

An overnight outing in nature is also a great chance to teach children survival skills, from pitching a tent to cooking and taking care of themselves. They can also learn about plants, birds and other small animals in the natural surroundings.

The following are some easy-to-reach places with safe and convenient camping grounds suitable for families for this Children's Day weekend.

Chet Khot -- Pong Kon Sao Nature Study Centre, Saraburi

This spot, adjoining the western boundary of Khao Yai National Park, has a campsite by a scenic lake, plus nature trails and a hilltop lookout point. It's a great place to introduce your children to hiking.

Call 089-237-8659.

Khao Yai National Park, Nakhon Nayok

This national park, one of Thailand's biggest and best-loved, spans four provinces: Nakhon Nayok, Prachin Buri, Nakhon Ratchasima and Saraburi. The popular Lam Ta Khong campground is located in the first of these, but can be reached via the park's main road. The park's legendary nighttime wildlife-spotting tour is a must. Your kids will love it.

Call 086-092-6531.

Namtok Sam Lan National Park, Saraburi

Only 100km north of Bangkok, this national park is the closest to the capital. Despite its relatively small size and proximity to local settlements, the park gives you a sense of remoteness once you are in the forest. Keep in mind that the mosquitoes can be a nuisance late in the evening. Later in the night, however, they seem to disappear.

Call 081-433-6388.

Kaeng Krachan National Park, Phetchaburi

This campground boasts a view of Kaeng Krachan lake. If you and your kids are into fishing, boats with drivers are available for hire. If you don't want to catch the fish yourself, there are several restaurants nearby that specialise in fresh catch. Note that the park's other campsite, further up the mountain at Phanoen Thung Forest Protection Unit, is currently closed.

Call 032-772-311.

Khao Laem Ya-Mu Ko Samet National Park, Rayong

As its name suggests, this marine national park also covers Ko Samet. However, the park's camping area sits on the mainland. Here, campers can enjoy the sea view with the island visible in the not-so-far distance.

Call 038-653-034.

Of course, there are many other great options out there. But with security guards and enforced regulations, designated camping areas like these tend to provide better safety and less chance of disturbance from other campers.

To make Children's Day camping even more fun, why not let your children invite their best friends to come along. It could turn out to be one of their most cherished childhood memories.


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