× Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary is close to the Chulabhorn Dam and the nearest large town is Chumpae in Khon Khaen. It has an area of 1,560 square kilometres. The geography consists of a sandstone mountain range with high cliffs. It is one of Thailand's premier sanctuaries that allows limited tourist access.

Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014

15 Aug 2014 18:27 - 07 Aug 2017 08:50 #2162 by onflipflops
onflipflops created the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
Just a tip for those who ever decide to visit Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary .
I am quite sure this won't apply if you are a regular visitor, but for the new ones like myself today this could be useful.
The entrance gate officially opens at 6:00am and closes at 16:30, at least according to the sign on the gate.
We arrived at 15:45 and were refused to enter.
The usual reason that it was too dangerous to enter. Wild elephants could be on the road. Obviously these animals are of no danger if you enter at 15:00 :silly:

After a 5 hr drive I have to say i had to count to ten a few times to remain calm. The woman remained very friendly, so I did the same even though it was boiling inside, haha.
Yes I know this is not a national park, but since it is written on the gate that it closes at 16:30, I more or less expected we could enter. They told us to get there before 15:00 in the future. Slightly ridiculous if you ask me.
Camping at this entrance gate was not an option either, because elephants could walk up to the entrance...

A few kms down the road, outside the sanctuary, is a dam with a campground, and various types of bungalows available starting at 800 baht. We took the 800B bungalow which is really quite OK. And I have to say that I am impressed about the area near the dam. Pig-tail Macaques were hangin around, and even a Great Hornbill made its appearance. The latter proves the quality of the forest. And there is lots of other birdlife present. Haven't even started looking for wildlife...

Can not wait to get deeper into the actual sanctuary.
Tomorrow when all dangers have gone, we will safely enter the reserve ;) and spend a few days/ nights.
I won't take the risk showing up at 6:00am. That has caused me enough trouble in HKK as well. The woman with the tickets is never there in the morning.

If anyone has useful tips for visiting Phu Khieo WS, it would be much appreciated if you could share it!

Thanks

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16 Aug 2014 21:24 #2163 by Paul TW
Paul TW replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
I have been just the once (2010 I think) - enjoyed it greatly and have always wanted to go back but its just that bit too far from BKK for a weekend. I had problems at the gate as well. It took me forever to get there and I arrived after 9 p.m. and could not find anywhere local (didn't get to see the dam complex until the next morning) so I slept in the car. I was up and waiting at 6:00 a.m. and they told me visitors can enter at 8:00 because the rangers and researchers were doing their work between 6 and 8. Thats when I found the dam complex.

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23 Aug 2014 00:58 - 23 Aug 2014 01:07 #2183 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
Trip report - Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014

I did not risk waking up early and showing up at 6:00AM to be refused again. Even though they had told me it was fine...
Instead walked around near the Chulaphorn dam and was surprised to find elephant tracks near the bungalows.

After entering the actual park I soon noticed that it was well worth the waiting.
Much of the long road from the entrance to the HQ is lined by impressive tall forest. Quite a lot of saltlicks/ mudpools can be found just off the road.
Some parts, mostly near the entrance gate and just around the HQ is mixed pine forest which is not too interesting for wildlife (IMO). But most of the area looks in great shape.
I found many trails along the main road, well-marked. But you're not allowed to get into the forest there. Most if not all of these trails were research trails. There is a long term study project going on researching the Assamese Macaque.



I've talked with one of the researchers and the stories he told were jealous-making.
The last few months he has encountered bears about once or twice a week! (Both species)
Elephants and gaur crossed his path quite often, both on the road and in the forest.
He has seen Clouded Leopard quite a few times during his morning drives to the research areas. But never in his 8 years study - working 20 days a month in the field, from the very early morning till sunset - had he seen a tiger or leopard. From what I understand the numbers of these bigger cats are not too high here.

Another interesting fact: About 10 years ago the last Sumatran Rhino footprints have been found. It will probably not occur there anymore, but still it is nice to dream about a small population living deep in the reserve away from the people...

What activities can be done in the park? Well, sadly, that's gonna be a short list.... It's a wildlife sanctuary so tourism is not a priority.
However, I found the rangers at the HQ very helpful, friendly, and willing to inform you as good as they can.
Near the HQ are two birding hides just 100m of the road in the forest, but these were closed at the moment after some trouble earlier this year when a few birding tours arrived and from what I understood there were too many people, and just 2 hides with each space for only 2 - 3 photographers/ birders. That caused a lot of trouble, so the rangers have decided to temporarily close these hides for visitors.
Just 5 - 10m in front of the hides there is a tiny pool (about 50cm diameter). They've made a system with a tap in the hide to fill the little pools, quite a nice idea actually, and surely it will attract lots of birdlife (and perhaps other wildlife) especially in the dry months.
Big signs have been put up at the trail entrance that you need to ask permission to take a seat in one of the hides, and even though I did not specifically ask - I'm not a bird photographer - I more or less understood from the rangers that they won't give permission at the moment. But perhaps if you arrive in a quiet time of year and get acquainted with the rangers, who knows... doors might open.

There is a trail that passes one of these hides and makes a loop around one of the many reservoirs. Most of the trail is through pine forest. I was not exactly impressed by this trail. Apparently there should be a trail branching off this trail and going a bit deeper, bringing you to a point about 2 km down the main road where the forest looks a bit better, but I haven't tried this options. Next time I will ask a ranger to show me around there.

The most popular sight, is the Thung Ka Mang grassland. Lots and lots of Hog Deer, and some Sambar Deer can be seen throughout the day. Unlike the Hog Deer in the 'permit-free' area of Huai Kha Khaeng, here most of them do not have ear-numbers, so better picture opportunities.
According to the ranger July & August is the main breeding season. Quite a few males were fighting.



There is another trail to a reservoir called Beung Mon (Mon Lake).
It's not allowed to do this trail without a ranger. The trail is 5.7km if started from the HQ (one-way, so a 11+km roundtrip). The track is wide enough to drive with a 4x4 and there's not too much difference in elevation.
The forest almost immediately changes from pine to tall mixed evergreen forest. The trail is quite straight and since it is wide you can look quite far ahead which is good for spotting animals crossing. We saw quite a few animals and found tracks of many more. At the Mon Lake we got to see Oriental Darter and the White-winged Duck, though both species we had encountered earlier on the lakes closer to HQ. However, we were told that the White-winged ducks near HQ were reintroduced, and the ones on Mon Lake were truly wild.

The main road has been the most succcesful area for us in terms of wildlife spotting.
White-handed Gibbons could be heard and seen in many areas, Phayre's Langurs are quite a common sight. And we've seen Assamese macaques and Northern Pig-tail Macaques.





Other mammals we've seen were Golden Jackals, Indian Giant Flying Squirrel, Black Giant Squirrels, various other squirrel species, Hog Deer, Indian Muntjac, Sambar Deer.





Bengal (or Clouded) Monitors and Water Monitors. Great and Pied Hornbill, heard Wreathed Hornbill. Siamese Fireback and Silver Pheasants, some tame Green Peafowl, two trogon species, and lots more. And probably the birding highlight (at least if I would have been a serious birder) was finding a nest with 2 eggs of the Rusty-naped Pitta.



I don't know how common it is, but I can imagine that finding nesting sites of pittas is not too common so to avoid similar problems like they've had with the birding hides, I think it's better to keep the location secret... Don't want to disturb this bird more than I already did...

Not sure if I forget anything. We were not fortunate to see elephants or gaur but tracks were easily found, as well as wild boar. Also found quite a lot of Bear tracks, even recent foot prints in the mud. Dhole scat and tracks. Leopard cat or Jungle Cat pug marks. And some scratches on trees that appeared to be from a medium-sized cat like perhaps Clouded Leopard or Asian Golden Cat.

Maybe of interest to the 'buggers' of this forum - I had never seen this species, but perhaps it's common in other areas, it sure is in Phu Khieo - a pretty cicada.



I will definitely return here, even though the options are limited.

Some more info about lodging. There are several cabins that can be booked on site. No fixed rate, just up to you. Same for camping, you decide what to donate the park. I didn't ask, but I don't think they have camping gear for rent, we brought our own.
Restrooms are basic Thai style. There is electricity between 18:00 - 21:00.
A restaurant on site just 50m from the HQ has Thai dishes for sale. They charge 70 baht per person and that gets you 2 curries and you are free to take as much rice as neccessary.
In a small shop behind the sport field they sell cold drinks, even beer, and some other snacks and neccessities. Still I think it is wise to bring some food and especially water by yourself, just in case.
At the HQ was a friendly ranger, his name is See, who can arrange rangers for you to accompany on the trails. But don't expect much English to be spoken in the park.

Connecting to Phu Khieo is Nam Nao national park. I've been there quite a few years ago, but did not have time to visit the place this time. It was one of the first parks I visited when I got in Thailand, and was the first place after starting in the North, where I actually heard lots of birdlife and found tracks of mammals. So it could be worth it to check it out if you are in the neighbourhood.

Hope this info can help others.

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24 Aug 2014 06:02 - 24 Aug 2014 06:06 #2184 by Paul TW
Paul TW replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
Fantastic trip report flip-flops! Fantastic pictures as always.

Thats an impressive haul of species as well.

I have never seen that species if cicada - cool! Where there a lot of bugs around (generally)?

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24 Aug 2014 09:57 - 24 Aug 2014 11:36 #2185 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
As you know I am not really the right person to ask if there were bugs. And even more than usually I put all off my focus on mammals. I wanted to know if the area is interesting for future visits. Generally speaking, if you see enough mammals it means there should be more than enough of other creatures like reptiles, birds, etc.
Let me think if I remember anything. Did see a large moth, about 16 cm wide. Made a picture with my phone. ID is welcome!



And a big black caterpillar, about 12cm. Did not really encounter any large groups of butterflies.
Some well camouflaged forest hunts mans. Enough grasshoppers, and did see some mantis.
Loads of horse flies Haha. A nice looking species though, and they did not really tried to sting. But they kept following our car.
That cicada was very common. Sweat bees. But can't recall seeing any plant hoppers.
I guess you really need to go back yourself to take a closer look. But I understand it is along way from Bangkok. For us it was a 5 hr drive from Khao Yai. About the same as driving to Huai Kha Khaeng from KY.
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24 Aug 2014 13:15 #2186 by Paul TW
Paul TW replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
Its a Saturniidae (commonly referred to as Emperor moths), probably Antheraea frithi.
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24 Aug 2014 21:13 #2187 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
Thanks Trekker!
Google images shows a few color variations. I remember seeing the yellow variation in Khao Yai. Cool moths!

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25 Aug 2014 09:38 #2188 by Painted Jezebel
Painted Jezebel replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
The Cicada is Formotosena montivaga.
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25 Aug 2014 22:27 #2194 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
Thanks for the ID, Les!

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15 Oct 2014 18:02 - 28 Oct 2014 08:05 #2377 by Paul TW
Paul TW replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
I recently had a trip to Phetchabun and Chaiyaphum and, inspired by flipflops post, called into Phu Khieo for a few days. I was mightily impressed with the both the forest and wildlife. Even for the height of the rainy season I saw quite a lot, much the same as flipflops: Assamese macaque, Pig tailed Macaque; Jackal; elephant; sambar (wild and released); hog deer (released); peafowl; Phayres langur; Gaur; and a few small mammals including one I will write about ( click here ). I also had a bunch or firsts in arthropod sightings for myself as well.

The forest mix of dipterocarp/dry evergreen and pine, and both lowland and hill evergreen as well, is really quite something. The forest type can change rapidly - its very unusual as well as fascinating. I saw some of the biggest ficus trees I have ever seen there. I also saw more animal tracks/paths in the forest than I have seen anywhere else - EVER.

I chose to stay in the accommodation as I was coming in from Nam Nao and needed to dry out my camping gear. The accomm' is VERY basic ;+) My hammock next time.

The Weather was not great (October) for photography and it was heavily overcast most of my visit, but I saw enough to intrigue me a lot.

I definitely want to go back when its dry, but as flipflops has said - its a hell of drive from Bangkok! I stopped off on the way back to Bangkok but it would have easily been about 7 or 8 hours if I had not. Highly recommended for those like me who are used to the flora of DPYKYFC complex, KKFC and WEFCom - its wonderfully different.

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15 Oct 2014 18:24 #2378 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
Sounds great, Trekker!
We want pics! ;)
The forest is really great over there.
The only thing I hoped a bit was that they had some more big cats around, but seems like the numbers are very low, apart from Clouded Leopard maybe...

Cool you got to see Gaur and elephants. We missed out on these, but from the stories of the rangers, and the abundance of tracks of both species, I guess we were just not so fortunate. There seems to be a reasonable chance to see these big mammals. They see really large herds of elephants in certain times of the year. And it's a great place for primates too.

I too hope to be back in the dry season.
See you there ;)

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27 Oct 2014 17:11 - 28 Oct 2014 13:21 #2406 by Paul TW
Paul TW replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
Sorry for the delay - am catching up. Not a great selection considering though. The macro are with my new canon macro setup so I was more experimenting with its use, than trying to get good pics. The mammals are with my "old" Nikon and the shots are a bit "tame" to say the least. I will have to try a little harder next time.

Ants (Camponotus sp maybe)


Assassin bug - unknown


Froghopper (Cercopidae)


Treehopper (Membracidae)
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27 Oct 2014 17:26 - 28 Oct 2014 08:11 #2407 by Paul TW
Paul TW replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
Pygmy White-toothed Shrew - Suncus etruscus

Green peafowl

Hog Deer

Hog Deer
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27 Oct 2014 17:28 - 28 Oct 2014 08:08 #2408 by Paul TW
Paul TW replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
and lastly. Phrayes Langur - they were very very skittish which was a difference from a few years ago when I got very close.



Released female sambar


A planthopper I am struggling to ID
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03 Nov 2014 10:22 #2473 by Bagheera
Bagheera replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
Awesome sets of photographs to both you guys, Phu Kieow is definitely on my 'to visit' list now..

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03 Jan 2015 12:17 - 06 Jan 2015 08:23 #2610 by Paul TW
Paul TW replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
I had another visit to Phu Khieo Xmas week, it was for 3 days but the first day was a disaster that I don't think the Phu Khieo staff will forget soon.

I topped the car up with fuel before heading out of Chum pae and the car conked about 6 kilometers from the HQ - I had to walk about 5 ks before coming over some very very kind rangers who sprang to my assistance. They saved me. The fuel station had filled my diesel pickup with gasohol and Khun Piak and his kind assistants spent hours bleeding my car's fuel system and getting me going again. Its at times like that, that I realize just how kind and generous Thai's can truly be - I can't imagine such help forthcoming in my own country of birth. I am also eternally grateful to Khun Piak for taking me around at sunset and sharing his knowledge and the back of his motorbike on what was a very interesting and insightful trek.

It was horrendously cold at night! A cold spell hit on my arrival and it was seriously cold - enough to make it difficult to sleep. I ditched the hammock after the first night and put up my tent as I figured the ground was much warmer than the air. I don't think I have known it so cold in my time in Thailand.

I did not see anything particularly spectacular but I like it that, so far, I have gotten shots of animals on all 3 of my visits - theres not many places I can say that about in Thailand.

Female Axis porcinus (Indochinese Hog Deer) and/on the open grassland that they habituate at the headquarters.
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03 Jan 2015 12:18 - 03 Jan 2015 12:20 #2611 by Paul TW
Paul TW replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
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03 Jan 2015 12:19 #2612 by Paul TW
Paul TW replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
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05 Jan 2015 21:54 #2614 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
Nice work! Like the Sambar in its environment shot. And cool you captured the singing Gibbon .
Would love to go back there to further explore, but will probably not have the time to go anytime soon. Hopefully later this year.

I agree about the rangers there. Very friendly and welcoming.
Next time I will keep an eye on the guys at the gas station ;)
Don't want to get the same problem as you did.
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06 Jan 2015 08:33 - 06 Jan 2015 08:35 #2615 by Paul TW
Paul TW replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
Thanks flipflops. I must have seen 6 or 7 jackals this trip, but all in low light. Did not see any Phayre's or Resus' though which was a surprise.

I drove there from Bangkok this time and took a friend's (who is often in Chum Pae) advice on the route - I ignored the GPS which would have dragged me via Khon Khaen and headed through Chaiyaphum. Much quicker route from Bangkok at 6 to 6 1/2 hours to Chum Pae (which has loads of hotels to overnight in) and then an early morning drive to PK of about 30 minutes to the entrance. Its still too far for a weekend trip from Bangkok but for a long weekend the drive is OK.

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06 Jan 2015 09:14 #2616 by Bagheera
Bagheera replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
Lovely shots Trekker, I really like the morning mist shot and the gibbon in full song. The squirrels are great aswell, they really held nice poses for you!

What kind of a state is the forest in? I ask because I have heard Gibbons are an indicator species of an healthy forest so wondered what your impressions were from being there?

There seems to be a fair few prey species in these forests, I'm wondering out loud here if perhaps this forest could be hiding a few larger felines, perhaps CL's or L's..
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06 Jan 2015 12:17 #2617 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
Hi Bagheera,

From my visit earlier last year I can tell you there is primary forest in great condition. It's definitely not 100% primary cover, but a good percentage from what I could see. Gibbon presence and the larger hornbills are great indicators for quality forest.

I've talked with an Assamese Macaque researcher who has spend the last 8 years, 20 days per month from sunrise till sunset in the forest.
He told about frequent encounters with bears, and he had seen Clouded Leopard quite a few times! Time is the key to success of course.
I've seen scratches on trees which were very likely from CL.
There is a big Dhole pack around the HQ. I did not see them, but have seen the images, at least one of the pack had a radio-collar on the images I've seen. Not sure if they are still being followed.
A Thai photographer showed me his images of Dholes taking down an almost fully grown Gaur.
A 3 hour fight, but the dogs won!
But none of these people had seen T or L, and from what I remember even not the tracks of these. But not sure if they have been looking out for it...
I would not be surprised if these larger cats would be more likely found in the area connecting with Nam Nao NP. From what I remember the forest looks a bit different there, which I would guess is a bit more like big cat habitat.
What I've read online almost 20 tigers were found during a study in 2001. But I have no idea how bad the poaching is in that area so no idea if this is still an accurate number.

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06 Jan 2015 12:37 #2618 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
Just read a report about sightings of felids during a Phayre's Langur research project.
8 out of the 9 species of Thailand occur there and were all sighted according to the report.
Only Flat-headed Cat is not found in the area.

All 3 Leopard encounters mentioned in this report were melanistic individuals.
And it mentions a sighting of two adult Clouded Leopards where the observers were treated on a 2 hour long sighting! A photo made through a binocular shows one of them up in the tree. What an experience that must have been!

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07 Jan 2015 10:08 #2621 by Bagheera
Bagheera replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
Flipflops, that sounds really encouraging on the forest, there really is nothing quite like a good bit of primary cover to stir the soul! I must get down there at some point in the future.

Dholes taking down a Gaur? That is truly incredible and if you hadn't been shown photos I would have been sceptical, just goes to show what can be achieved when a big pack hunts together.

Do you have a link to that Phayre's langur project which contained the sighting of felids section? Would be interesting to read!

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07 Jan 2015 12:01 #2623 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
Hi Bagheera,

Well, I was not skeptical about the Dhole taking down Gaur, because it was not the first time I had seen images. Another Thai photographer had shown me the same situation, and I believe also from Phu Khieo. From what I remember the situation looked different, but who knows these two photographers were at the same spot at the same time...
Anyways, when Dholes have their mind on something, they are going for it.

However, last year, some people got to see Dholes taking on an elephant calf in Khao Yai np. In this case I guess the Dholes were a bit too afraid of the adult members of the elephant herd, and retreated eventually. Probably not hungry enough, haha, and easier prey around.

Follow this link, and click the little thumbnail of the Cat News cover (source) and there you find the article.

www.researchgate.net/publication/2352246...y_Northeast_Thailand

Wish you a speedy recovery so you can get back to the enjoyment of visiting the Thai jungles!
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19 Mar 2015 09:01 - 19 Mar 2015 12:23 #2767 by Alex
Alex replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
This last weekend i visited Phu Khieo. I was really impressed, particularly with how many impressive birds i ran into without even really looking!













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19 Mar 2015 12:42 - 19 Mar 2015 17:02 #2770 by Paul TW
Paul TW replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
Love the Jackal "chasing" the hog deer!

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19 Mar 2015 18:08 #2772 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
Wow, you got VERY close to those pheasants!
Nice selection of animals.

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02 May 2015 18:40 #2828 by iotai
iotai replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
Hi,

We've been traveling in south-east Asia with bicycles for a while and we're entering Thailand tomorrow. Our first destination (from Laos) should be Phu Khieo wildlife sanctuary (mostly for photography). As it's a 4-day journey with our bicycles to reach the park, we'd rather find it open and not go there for nothing. We plan to spend two or three days there. I've read the opening times in another topic but is there anything special that needs to be known to enter the park (fees, closing days...)? Thanks a lot for the help! (amazing pictures here...)

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02 May 2015 21:59 #2829 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary - August 2014
As mentioned in one of the threads you will need to enter before 15:00. That is not an official time limit, but we were refused to enter despite the sign saying a different time.
Not sure what the policy is for bicycles in Phu Khieo. But in some parks in Thailand, for example Kaeng Krachan national park it is not allowed to enter with a bicycle.
I guess this has to do with wild elephants, though honestly I think getting away on a bicycle is easier than by car, but my opinion does not count ;) . The potential elephant encounters were also the reason why we were not able to enter after 15:00.

No idea if there are special closing days, but I expect not. I honestly would worry about being allowed in the park with a bicycle or not. Hope the best for you!
One national park that surely allows bicycles is Khao Yai national park, despite being more likely to encounter an elephant than in most other parks. I can't recall seeing bicycles in any other parks.
Enjoy your trip!

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