Railfans, trainspotters and curious travellers alike will find something to love at InterContinental Khao Yai Resort. The resort has proudly taken its place among the best train-themed destinations in the world, thanks to innovative architectural design and a set of heritage train cars which have been repurposed into buildings.
The Khao Yai region was traditionally the gateway to Thailand’s Northeast, and the railcars are historic in and of themselves. Many began rolling through the landscape of Eastern Thailand during the reign of King Rama V.
A Glamorous & Nostalgic Voyage
Historic train-themed rail details abound on the grounds of InterContinental Khao Yai Resort, making it easy for guests to hop aboard pieces of living history and be transported to a distant glamorous era. A Khao Yai rail stationhouse – complete with ticket counter – welcomes guests as the official reception area. It has an original stationmaster bell, which is rung to symbolize the start of a new journey.
Railway tracks run through the grounds and lead to and around the heritage railcars which are the heart and soul of the resort. Some 23 different cars were collected from around the country and repurposed into an array of buildings – including 19 designed into four types of suites and villas. Four more railcars were redesigned into Papillon Bar, the French-themed Poirot, Back on Track: Spa and the headquarters of the Planet Trekkers program.
Railcar guests also receive a welcome drink when they check in, and a King Rama V era train ticket stamped with the date when they check out. For those interested in private photo sessions, railcar suites can be rented in half day increments – and our in-residence photographer can elevate the experience and capture an even higher grade of elegant and brilliant memories.
Today, creative design elements wait to be discovered around every corner and guided tours are provided upon request, to showcase some of the most impressive hidden gems.
The interior of a railcar suite.
Innovative train-themed architecture abounds at InterContinental Khao Yai Resort.
The Inspiration for Bill Bensley’s Khao Yai Masterpiece
The railway mastermind behind InterContinental Khao Yai Resort’s design was the award-winning American architect Bill Bensley. His inspiration was a man named Somsak – a native Thai citizen and rail enthusiast who spent his life on and near the rails and long-dreamt of bringing that excitement to Khao Yai. He devoted his life to visiting as many stations as he could and travelled all over Thailand for many years. He also collected train memorabilia during his travels.
After meeting Somsak, Bensley decided to transport guests back to Thailand’s glamorous nouveau age by using upcycled railcars. Somsak’s life journey was an important piece of the resort design, and elements of his life have been incorporated throughout the experience to ensure his story is shared with guests. Tales from his life voyage appear on turn down cards in rooms at night. Historic train decorations grace the walls at Terminus Bar, and traditional Thai snacks from Somsak’s childhood are given to guests upon departure.
In many ways, InterContinental Khao Yai Resort is a testament to the man – a quiet yet passionate spirit, who had the iron rumble of the railway tracks and the whistle of its locomotives running through his blood. And thanks to Somsak, Bill Bensley brought to life one of his most creative and daring works, on the cusp of Khao Yai National Park.
Natural green Khao Yai scenery creates a peaceful, secluded atmohsphere.
The reception area is designed in the spirit of regional Thai architecture - such as the Pak Chong train station, and others like it.
The best way to experience the rail-inspired flavour of InterContinental Khao Yai Resort is by staying in one of the suites built from repurposed railcars. Curious explorers will find four different types of units at the resort.
Heritage Railcar 1 Bedroom Suite
Twelve of these units grace the grounds of InterContinental Khao Yai Resort. All were created from upcycled train carriages – historic pieces which rolled along the rails in North Eastern Thailand more than a century ago.
The suites are 47 sqm and include a large indoor living room, a lounge area, a King bed or Twin beds, an interior bathroom with rain shower and an outdoor bathtub.
The lavish, comforting bed in the Heritage Railcar 1 Bedroom Suite.
Natural light and vivid decor brighten this Khao Yai suite.
This expansive deck is a perfect setting for catered North Eastern Thai food in-room dining.
Curtained lounge areas and glorious weather are the essence of a Khao Yai luxury resort experience.
Heritage Railcar 1 Bedroom Villa
This villa was created as a set of twins. InterContinental Khao Yai Resort has two – both 109 sqm and shaped from actual heritage railcars.
They are designed to combine the best of indoor and outdoor living with a distinct historic feel, and the attached outdoor Victorian era bathtub is the perfect place to enjoy views of Swan Lake and the mountains of Khao Yai beyond.
A distinct tropical feel permeates the main bedroom in this Heritage Railcar 1 Bedroom Villa.
Mirrored hallways and arched ceilings shape the railcar villa's interior.
This massive Khao Yai resort room boasts retro furniture and stylish turquoise shades.
This deck is the perfect place to enjoy afternoon tea in Khao Yai.
Heritage Railcar 1 Bedroom Pool Villa
These railcar retreats are elegant and luxurious, and designed with an array of modern and contemporary amenities. Outdoor bathtubs and private plunge pools are always popular attractions.
The suites are 116 sqm and also have lounge areas, large kitchens, walk-in showers and deluxe bedrooms.
The interior of the Heritage Railcar 1 Bedroom Pool villa.
There is plenty of room to recline and unwind in this railcar villa.
Cool matching blues in the heritage railcar pool villa.
Fresh air and lush green spaces are natural benefits of a Khao Yai resort.
Heritage Railcar 2 Bedroom Pool Villa
This villa is a standalone gem and a one-of-a-kind rail-enthusiast experience. Not only does it look like a glamorous antique railcar, it is created from an actual rail car which recreates the feeling of staying on the Orient Express.
The interior decoration in the train cars is designed so that each individual space has its own theme. Each is based on a different city or locale in Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR or Vietnam. None are alike – a unique element designed by Bill Bensley to simulate travelling across South East Asia.
Two separate buildings comprise the villa, which measures a sprawling 223 sqm. The main living area is designed with a master bedroom with an enormous bed, while the second building has a pair of beds. Both have their own gathering spaces and dining rooms as well separate bathrooms and outdoor pools. The entire environment is quite private, and the attached plunge pool has a large size which furthers the relaxing villa feel.
The stylish main bedroom in the Heritage Railcar 2 Bedroom Pool Villa.
This Khao Yai resort room boasts dark wood paneling and a rain shower.
The heritage railcar villa is spacious, bright and stylish.
A separate sitting area makes the villa an ideal Khao Yai family room.
A deck that stretches like a rail station platform is just one benefit of this spacious Khao Yai pool villa.
Outdoor loungers are the perfect place to soak in the glorious Khao Yai weather.
Recommendations for Further Exploration
The best way to experience train culture is by spending a weekend in one of our heritage railcar units. If you are interested in learning more about the history of rail travel in Thailand, we also offer local Thailand Rail activities.
Legacy tours are quite popular and guests can even ride the train to Pak Chong Rail Station – the end point of the Bangkok rail line for many years. Short trips with the State Railway of Thailand are exciting and relaxing, and an excellent way to see the beautiful Khao Yai landscape unfold on all sides.