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Doi Luang National Park in northern Thailand.

Thailand has an abundance of natural beauty for the visitor, and native alike, to enjoy. Traveling in her national parks could be one of your most memorable traveling experiences. Doi Luang National park is one of the largest parks in the north.

Established in 1990 by combining Champa Thong Waterfall Park, Bha Gred Naak Waterfall Park, Pu Gaeng Waterfall Park and Wang Gaew Waterfall Park, Doi Luang National Park covers 1170 Sq.. kilometers. The park sprawls over three provinces; Chiang Rai, Payao and Lampang. Dominated by two north-south mountain ranges, elevations range from 600 m. to 1798 m. at the peak of Doi Luang, to the north.

Map of Doi Luang National Park, plus scenes from the park.

Doi Luang National Park covers three main watersheds:

  1. The Wang River; flowing south to the Chao Praya River
  2. The Lao River; flowing north to the Mekong River
  3. Payao Lake, the second largest inland fresh water lake in Thailand; to the east.

There are three distinct seasons, offering varied conditions. The cold season (Nov-Feb), with temperatures ranging from 15 to 28 Celsius, is the most comfortable for hiking and camping. You'll want to bring some warm clothes such as a light jacket or sweater as the evenings and early mornings can be quite cool; layer so that you can peel down to cooler clothes as the day warms up.

The hot season (Mar-May) temperatures range between 27 to 32 Celsius. This means playing in the waterfalls is a must. Brings clothes for wading or swimming.

The fertile forests are made up of hill evergreen forest, moist evergreen forest, mixed deciduous forest and dry dipterocarp forest.

The rainy season (Jun-Oct), easily the most beautiful, brings forth a burst of green; as well as a healthy population of insects. This is my favorite time when the forest is at its most colorful. Be prepared to get wet and enjoy the rain forest in all its glory. The waterfalls are at their most beautiful, but this is not the time for playing in them. Bring your bug spray! Temperatures range between 24 to 30 Celsius.

View of Doi Luang National Park.

Some species of fauna living in the national park are common muntjak, common wild boar, palm civet, civet, Malayan flying lemur, macaques, tiger, black cat, barking deer, flying squirrels, Siamese hare, common red jungle fowl and more than two hundred confirmed species of birds such as vernal hanging parrot, partridge, Richard's pipit, sooty - headed bulbul and blue - winged pitta. Doi Luang is also known to have a rich source of mixed deciduous forest, decidious dipterocarp and evergreen forest that blankets the national park with various kinds of tree, bamboo and plant.

While many visit Doi Luang to trek in the vast forest-covered mountains or visit hill-tribe villages, most visitors come to this park for the magnificent waterfalls. Pu Gaeng Waterfall features limestone and travertine deposits that give this waterfall its characteristic steps or levels. There are a total of nine levels, it is said the most beautiful are the fourth and the fifth, with a 1 km trail through the tropical forest dominated by bamboo. From the camping ground to the second level, there is a natural trail that allows visitors to study nature close at hand. Another exciting route is the 1,500 meter path to the top of the fall, a vantage point to admire the whole area of Doi Luang, Payao province and Payao Lake.

For trekking, there is a path from this fall to Doi Nawg in Payao province. Guides are available on request at the Park Office. To get to there; leave Payao driving north, along route 1, for 39 km to where the road ends at park headquarters. Here, you will find a visitors center, a small restaurant, serving basic Thai food, and campgrounds (visitors have to bring their own tent and equipment).

Champa Thong Waterfall, surrounded by humid tropical forests, offers the most challenging ascent. This waterfall is graced with the biggest trees and excellent bird, and butterfly, watching opportunities. To get there; drive north from Payao, on route 1, for 7 km, turn left (west) onto route 1127, continue on route 1127 for 12 km to the waterfall.

Wang Gaew Waterfall, with limestone features similar to Pu Gaeng, is the largest waterfall on Lampang province. This waterfall has over 100 levels! This is one of the most beautiful falls is the park and its water flows all year. On the way to the falls you'll pass through villages made up of wooden houses. To get there; drive south out of Payao, on route 1, 8 km turn right (west) onto route 1282, drive 45 km to Wang Nua turn right onto route 1002 (north) continue for 26 km to the waterfall. Nearby Wang Tong Waterfalls are very similar in nature to the Wang Gaew falls, lower and more accessible; near Wang Thong is Naang Paya Pang Din Fai Cave. The cave contains some interesting and beautiful limestone stalactites and stalagmites and is well worth visiting.

The sheer height make this a great spot to view early morning sunrise. The rising sun through the haze gives one a very mystical feeling. The tall pine trees seem out of place in this tropical country. A choice location is at km 20 on Route 120 in the area of Payao-Wang Nua District.

There are many more waterfalls nearby; Champathong, Bha Gred Naak Waterfall with rocks shaped like the scale of naga glittering in the sun light. About 4 kilometers from Baan Tohm, situated in virgin forest, unfortunately, there is no transportation the fall. To reach this remote fall, you'll have to walk through the forest and Wang Thong Waterfall among them. The area is rich in animal life with diverse and unspoiled plant life. With year round waterfalls and several hill tribes a person could lose track of time here and feel they are truly in one of the last unspoiled environments in the world.

Remind the children in the family to be conscientious to maintain this invaluable resource of Thailand. This area is sensitive to the influence of the outside world. Go, enjoy, but please be careful of the pristine environment. "Take only pictures, leave only footprints."

Distances to Doi Luang Waterfalls

To Chiang Rai Payao
Pu Gaeng
67 kms
48 kms
Champa Thong
90 kms
19 kms
Wang Kaew
173 kms
79 kms

Doi Luang National Park
Mae-Yen Sub-district, Paan District
Chiang Rai 57120 Thailand
Tel. 053-609042

To avoid disappointment, overnight stay in Lodgings must be booked in advance.

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