Farm-to-Table: Top 5 Experiences in Khao Yai |

Nakhon Ratchasima (known as Korat) is in the northeast of Thailand, 2 hours away from Bangkok, which is a 2.5 hour flight from Singapore. It’s also a popular gateway to the UNESCO-listed Khao Yai National Park – a captivating destination that lures wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers from near and far. Because of this, people often use “Khao Yai” to refer to the immediate vicinity around the south of Korat.

If you love bucolic landscapes, farm-to-table experiences with friendly locals, and sampling some delectable – and spicy – Isaan cuisine, then Khao Yai is a great destination for you. With the area’s temperate climate, fresh air, and fertile land, it boasts a flourishing agricultural scene, making it a sought-after weekend getaway for city dwellers seeking respite.

Bucolic Khao Yai

Immerse yourself in the rich agricultural tapestry of the region, where farms invite you to experience the joy of picking your own fruits. Picture yourself plucking luscious strawberries, succulent grapes, and juicy tomatoes straight from the vine. But the experience doesn’t end there. Get ready to be welcomed by the warm hospitality of the locals as you savour the vibrant flavours of the local cuisine, and forge unforgettable memories along the way. 

To experience the best the region has to offer, here are five activities you shouldn’t miss in Khao Yai.

Farm-to-table Dining

Thailand is famous for its cuisine and in Khao Yai, you’ll be able to sample regional Isaan food. It’s unique to Thailand’s northeast region, characterised by its strong, spicy flavours, served with a side of sticky rice and an assortment of fresh vegetables. Some popular dishes include Som Tam (green papaya salad), Sai Krok Isaan (Isaan-style fermented sausage), and Pla Ra, a spicy fermented fish paste beloved by locals. You can sample these classic dishes at places like Chow Barn, a casual restaurant attached to Peri Hotel.

Local delicacies like Som Tam and sticky rice

To immerse yourself in the local way of life, venture to Wang Nam Khiao district which is renowned throughout Thailand for, among other things, having Thailand’s freshest air. Within this district lies the Ban Suk Somboon community, comprising a group of dedicated local women who have embraced sustainable tourism, drawing inspiration from their farming background. 

Indulge in a filling lunch beside an enchanting reservoir, under the cool shade of trees. The meal itself, sourced from local organic community farms, gives you a modest yet authentic experience. The dishes showcase local ingredients, such as lotus stem in coconut soup and winged bean stir-fry, crafted according to the season’s bounty.

Enjoying lunch with a view

Indulge in a post-lunch treat with a local coffee brand that is sourced from a nearby farm. At their charming kiosk, savour a cup of their traditional drip coffee served in a distinctive bamboo coffee stand, at just 50 baht.

Situated within the Khao Yai area where the altitude ranges between 400-700m, coffee cultivation thrives due to the area’s exceptional microclimate. If you’re a coffee lover, there are plenty of interesting roadside cafes you can stop by and have a cuppa. Some boast amazing views and themes. 

A post-lunch local coffee

One of Ban Suk Somboon’s main focuses is fostering the exchange of agricultural knowledge between the surrounding farming communities to empower local farmers. A prime example of which is their development of a novel new product: fermented mushrooms. Using traditional fermentation methods – employing rice bran, salt, and chillies – local farmers have pioneered a way of transforming their surplus mushroom harvests into a delectable vegan snack. You can sample, buy, and even help in the preparation of these fermented mushrooms with the friendly, local farming aunties.

Fermented mushrooms

There’s currently no set tour plan at Ban Suk Somboon, but you can arrange via travel agents to experience what they have to offer. These include experiences like camping by the reservoir, exploring the local farms (where they grow durians, limes, jackfruits, and more), eating a locally prepared farm-to-table meal, or trying your hand at watercolour painting using natural dyes.

Durian at a local fruit farm

For another unique experience, head to the nearby Pha Keb Tawan Cliff in Thap Lan National Park. Here, you can use a huge slingshot positioned on the cliff’s edge to launch a variety of seeds down into the valley below. It’s of course great fun, but it also means you’re helping contribute to the park’s lush, verdant landscape in the process.

The ladies of Bak Suk Somboon

See How Mushrooms Grow

Not far from Ban Suk Somboon is a quirky attraction called Mister Mushroom. As its name suggests, it’s a facility that produces mushrooms in indoor farms. You can opt for a guided tour which will explain how many of their rare mushrooms are grown and harvested. While they grow familiar varieties like shiitake, oyster, and enoki mushrooms, they also produce some of the most valuable fungi in the world: cordyceps and lingzhi. These mushrooms are prized because they’ve been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine for a variety of ailments. 

Lab-grown Cordyceps militaris

The cordyceps militaris (gold cordyceps) is a cultivated version of the highly-prized cordyceps sinensis which is a wild fungus that grows in worms, harvested from high altitude mountains. Wild cordyceps sinensis costs a fortune – up to USD20,000 per kilogram! – but the cordyceps militaris is far more affordable. For example, dried gold cordyceps tea is available at 300 baht for 20g, available at Mister Mushroom’s gift shop.

Lingzhi, or reishi mushroom, also has a wild and cultivated version. The latter takes 3 months to grow before it can be harvested (shiitake mushrooms can be harvested in 10 days). While lingzhi is nicknamed “mushroom of immortality” and was so prized because it was once forbidden to commoners.

Close-up of lingzhi mushroom

Mister Mushroom is the brainchild of the founders behind WangWan products. It’s a Thai Traditional Medicine company specialising in herbal balms that many Thais use for ailments like muscle aches and dizziness. At the gift shop, you can sample a wide range of mushroom-based products, as well as various WangWan balms. 

Dried cordyceps tea

Sample Khao Yai Wine

“New Latitude Wine” gained popularity in the early 2000s to describe wines produced in tropical and subtropical climates, where grapes are cultivated closer to the equator. In the years since, Thailand’s burgeoning wine industry has been making strides, particularly in Khao Yai, thanks to the region’s elevation, cooler temperatures, fertile soil, and hilly landscapes that create surprisingly great microclimates for grape cultivation and winemaking. 

A sunny day in the vineyard

While it may not have the winemaking history of France or Italy, Thai winemakers have successfully experimented with various grape varieties. These include Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, and Verdelho, among others. All of these have adapted well to the Thai climate, resulting in red and white wines that exhibit unique flavours and characteristics. Khao Yai has also gained both regional and international recognition with its award-winning wines.

Rows of Chenin Blanc

In Khao Yai, you’ll find a plethora of vineyards offering locally crafted wines. One of the best-known is GranMonte in Asoke Valley. Now in its second generation, this family-run winery offers guided tours through the vineyard and production facility, culminating in a delightful wine tasting experience at their cellar door. Have lunch at VinCotto, where you can try wine-pairing and savour a range of other non-alcoholic specialties produced right on site, such as grapeseed oil, wine salt, and grape juice. 

Vin Cotto restaurant

The best time to visit is from October to May. GranMonte’s annual Wine Festival is in October and the annual harvest season is in February. For a truly immersive experience, spend the night in one of GranMonte’s guest rooms that overlook the picturesque vineyard.

Pick Your Own Fruits

Khao Yai’s unique landscape and mineral-rich soil have given rise to a thriving local agricultural industry. A highlight of which are its many organic fruit and vegetable farms where you can go on farm tours and even pick your own produce. It gives you an immersive, first-hand look at the careful cultivation process involved in growing juicy tomatoes or succulent strawberries, helping you to better understand the journey your food takes from field to plate. 

Cherry tomatoes for picking

A great example of which is Sweet & Green Farm. It started life as a roadside stall selling fresh produce back in 2012. Today, it’s a thriving social enterprise employing dozens of people from Khao Yai. The farm currently supplies fresh fruits and vegetables to restaurants, hotels, and even its own greengrocer in Bangkok.

Guide showing tools for tomato picking

The farm has 31 greenhouses and several hectares of fields where you can pick your own produce. The most popular of which (to pick) are tomatoes: a pick-it-yourself half-kilo basket costs just 150 baht. Sweet & Green takes pride in their pesticide-free approach. So more than just being eco-friendly, you can also enjoy your freshly-picked tomatoes right off the vine. A simple rinse to remove any residual dirt and baking powder—a natural insect repellent employed by the farm—is all it takes to prepare these delectable treats before eating. 

Freshly-picked red and yellow cherry tomatoes

The farm also grows pumpkin, melon, kale, zucchini, butternut squash, and basil, among other things. The farm and on-site grocery shop are open daily. You can pick your own vegetables there every day, except Wednesdays.

Sweet & Green farm at sunset

Take Nothing But Photos

Many visitors go to Khao Yai for its scenic natural beauty and cooler temperatures. From flower farms to a surprisingly wide array of themed attractions, it’s easy to almost feel like you’re in Europe. There are plenty of flower farms dotted around Khao Yai, including Flora Park, Rai Manee Sorn sunflower field, and Tokyo Farm. The most popular time to visit is between November and February. This is when the temperatures are mild, and the flowers are blooming.

Faprathan Flora Park

One of Khao Yai’s quirkiest attractions is Primo Piazza. It has a livestock farm where you can meet alpacas and donkeys, and a public square that makes you feel as if you’ve stepped into a small Italian town. 

If you fancy getting up close with livestock like sheep, cows, and alpaca, head to one of the many working farms in the region. Farm Chokchai is Asia’s largest dairy farm, perched on a vast stretch of plains amidst a scenic surrounding. Here, you can take guided farm tours, watch cowboy-themed shows, and even get to try your hand at activities like bottle-feeding calves and riding horses.

Primo Piazza

Khao Yai is also renowned for its diverse range of themed accommodations, providing a delightful escape into imaginative settings. 

These include Baan Suan Resort, a Hobbiton-themed village where you can rent costumes for a whimsical photoshoot. For a taste of a safari, Lala Mukha Tented Resort transports you to the wilds of Africa. Alternatively, for a little piece of France, check out Chateau de Khaoyai. If Italian is more your thing, check out Toscana Piazza. It looks like an entire Italian village complete with themed hotels and its own leaning tower of Pisa. 

Getting to Khao Yai

The best way of reaching Khao Yai is by car – self-drive or by hiring a car – from Bangkok. This gives you not only convenience, but also the flexibility to make stops at the many attractions en route. Depending on traffic, the drive typically takes 2-3 hours. This allows ample time to reach the majority of attractions in the area. 

There are many airlines that fly to Bangkok. We travelled with Air Asia, which offers meals like Phad Thai and Basil Fried Chicken rice. You can fly via AirAsia into Don Mueang Airport, which puts you in the northern part of Bangkok. For more information, visit

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