Khao Yai is becoming a fashionable residential retreat: a place to build a second home within green, natural surroundings and the seventh best ozone in the world but just two hours away from the urban jungle of Bangkok.
By Percy Roxas.
Until recently Khao Yai was a relatively obscure destination favored by mostly elite Thais for weekend getaways. Sitting in an area just outside the national park—a World Heritage Site, no less, with the same name—Khao Yai is a perfect choice given its green surroundings, year-round cool weather, and proximity to Bangkok (only two hours by car). Today it is becoming an increasingly fashionable residential retreat: a place to have a second home whether it is a weekend villa, a vacation house, or a condominium unit.
Khao Yai has come a long way indeed since residential developments began in 1995, along with hotel developments firstly on Thanarat Road.
In the beginning, most of the residential projects sprung up close to a hotel, resort, and golf course; if not within an existing project, as Colliers International Thailand Research has pointed out. Even then, the residential property sector was already showing potential for stronger demand. But then the economic crisis came in 1997, and for nine years no new project was built in the area.
In 2005, however, the Khao Yai residential property scene came to life again, although unlike in the way seen in other major Thai property and real estate markets such as Pattaya and Hua Hin. This is because Khao Yai is still not a major tourist spot. Also, prospective foreign buyers still prefer the beach destinations when looking to buy second homes in Thailand. Still, Khao Yai was soon set to make its mark in the property scene.
In 2013 more than 1,380 units were launched and completed in the area, the highest ever recorded for Khao Yai, says research firm Colliers International, and up through March 2014, the total number of residential units completed has soared to 6,180. To date, all kinds of residential developments can be found in Khao Yai, but also several mixed-used developments such as Mountain Creek Golf Resort & Residences.
“The condominium units were most fashionable residential type built in Khao Yai,” says Colliers International, “with nearly 2,070 units launched as of the first three months of 2014.” So far, approximately 1,390 house and villa units have been launched, and more new developments are underway.
Sansiri PCL, one of Thailand’s major condominium and property developers, has condominium projects in Khao Yai’s Western Area, with approximately 610 units scheduled for completion this year. Sansiri’s condominium project in Pak Chong is presently attracting a lot of interest, as are similar projects of other property developers.
Many hotel and resort developers, such as the SALA group, have not overlooked the potentials of Khao Yai. Inspired by the success of its sister properties in Samui and Phuket, the SALA Resorts and Spas family have added sala khaoyai resort to its growing portfolio.
But condominiums are popular, says the research firm, because of their lower prices compared to houses or villas as well as their easy maintenance. Also, most of Khao Yai condominiums are easily accessible or close to facilities that have sprung up along with the residential developments: community malls, convenience stores, and other support facilities.
According to Colliers, the Central Area is the first area to be developed in Khao Yai, starting with Juldis Khao Yai Resort in 1987 and Bonanza Khao Yai in 1992. It has the most developments to date and represents the emerging hub of Khao Yai.
The Eastern Area, dubbed as the new development area of Khao Yai, started to boom in 2010. Today, many luxury and high-end resorts as well as golf courses are located along the Khao Yai-Wang Namkhiao Road in this area. Meanwhile, residential developments in the Western Area started just over the past four or five years, although PB Valley Winery has been operating there since 1989.
In fact, various residential projects are coming up in all areas of Khao Yai. Many new residential projects have been launched in Khao Yai in the last few years. And the area is becoming increasingly attractive as property developers launch projects with distinctive designs and innovative concepts to attract the new breed of savvy prospective second-home buyers.
Driving around, it’s easy to see residential projects in Khao Yai inspired by Tuscan, American Country, modern contemporary, and other distinctive designs. Toscana Valley, for one, has been getting raves for its property in Khao Yai, even winning two awards at the “2013 Thailand Property Awards”: one for “Best Residential Development” and another for “Best Landscape Architectural Design.”
Developments like Kirimaya Residences and others have also reflected this trend in their projects. For example, an interesting feature of sala khaoyai resort—dubbed as the first of a new “small exclusive boutique property” brand for the SALA group—is the “underground” atmosphere inside the villa bedrooms. This atmosphere is created by partially carving the villas directly into the mountainside, thus preserving the panoramic views from the main building, restaurant, and swimming pool.
While many condos are indeed rising in Khao Yai, most new residential projects are housing and villa developments. The reason is simple, to quote Colliers again: “Khao Yai is most suitable for a house or villa with some open space and green grass.” Thus even with apparently surging land prices and spiraling costs of the projects, we can expect to see more of these types of developments in Khao Yai.
Perhaps one of the best examples of the development trend and the property developers’ trust in Khao Yai is this: The Magnolias Quality Development Corporation announcement that it plans to continuously invest in Khao Yai. The company is proud of its THB 395 million luxury villa project, Magnolias French Country Khao Yai, a villa-style vacation home with 18 maisons in a beautiful, relaxing French countryside-like setting. The project is surrounded by a lake in the heart of the property.
Other property developers also appear to be keen in further investing in the Khao Yai real estate market, which is definitely good news for those attracted to the place.
Living in Khao Yai. An attractive proposition, isn’t it? And why not, when, as many Khao Yai property developers suggest in their sales kits, “Isn’t it great to have a second home where you can enjoy a cool clime anytime of the year and be close to nature’s gifts all-year-round, while also being near outstanding wellness spas, world-class golf courses, and fine places for exciting culinary adventures, anytime you want?”