World's Greatest Places 2021
An elephant in Khao Yai National Park, Thailand, on Nov. 22, 2019.
Adam Dean—The New York Times/Redux
July 20, 2021 6:33 AM EDT

Thailand’s most cherished natural wonders benefited from the pause in international and domestic tourism. Rangers in Khao Yai National Park—a vast expanse of forest and grassland indented by rushing rivers and spectacular waterfalls—have reported an uptick in wildlife sightings during the pandemic, featuring a cast of animals including the Asian black bear and the gaur, the world’s largest bovine. Indeed, authorities are doubling down on efforts to preserve the area’s majesty—a recent, well-­publicized initiative returned left-behind garbage to litterers’ homes. The park has also seen another kind of growth with hotel openings such as the all-villa Roukh Kiri Khao Yai and the upcoming InterContinental Khao Yai National Park, which will feature upcycled train cars that have been transformed into luxury suites. —Duncan Forgan

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