National Parks in this kingdom are as exciting and varied as Thai food. The latter can come hot and spicy or subtle and rich; the former can be rugged and challenging or tranquil and serene. I have tramped across a number of national parks in Thailand and never cease to be amazed by the stunning flora and intriguing fauna to be found therein.
The United States of America was the first nation in the world to create a national parks system, and that system was the brainchild of a Scotsman, John Muir from Dunbar. The magnificent national parks scattered throughout the province of Chiangmai ensures all residents can get away out of the hectic city using little travelling time. The magnificent national parks in the province of Chiangmai.
Thailand, prides itself in the number and condition of its national parks. There are no fewer than 19 such sanctuaries spread across the provinces of Chiangmai, Lumpoon and Mae Hong Sorn. Most national parks were designated by royal decree in this region. Apart from that, other fantastic national places have been taken to prepare for proclamation as national parks. Most areas are steep and ruggedly mountainous. Furthermore, they are very important as watershed of main rivers.Chiangmai is mostly surrounded by countryside, so it doesn't take long to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Visitors have several national parks, mountains, small quaint towns, rivers and lakes to enjoy in this region; all within a few hours drive from the city. Here's an idea for those staying in Chiangmai for a while who want to experience a little getaway from city life.
Tham Pla_Naamtok Pha Sua National Park is located in the Mae Pai Forest Reserve in Mae Hong Sorn province of Northern Thailand. The National Park covers more than 488 square kilometers of the ‘Thanon Thongchai’ mountain range that separates Thailand from Myanmar. (The Park borders the Shan State of Myanmar to the North and West). The area is abundant in natural beauty with numerous caves, waterfalls and streams and a lush forest covering. Doi Laan is the highest mountaintop in the area at 1,918 meters above the sea level.
There are various kinds of forests within the areas of the National Park, including tropical evergreen forests, virgin forests, pine, mixed forests, timber forests, and grasslands. In the past, wild animals found in the National Park include Goral, Gaur, Wild Buffaloes, Bears, Wild Boars, Birds, etc.
The best time to visit is during the cool dry season, between November to February, when the sky is normally clear and thousands of breeding birds flock to the sky to escape the winter.
One of the great things about the National Park’s location in the Mae Hong Sorn area are the numerous hill-tribes, traditional villages and cultures that are still thriving and vibrant.
The residents of Mae Hong Sorn are mainly Shan who live in the larger towns and Karen, Lisu, Mhong, Lahu, and Lua hill-tribes’ who live in the more remote villages where elements of lifestyle have changed little in hundreds of years. Both the Shans and the hill-tribes have their own distinctive cultures. They have their own lilting dialect, their own custom and traditions, and their own delicious cuisine. The Shan (known historically as the Thai Yai people) have also developed an architectural style somewhat something different from other Lanna communities. Faced with relatively extreme temperatures during winter and summer, they have had to adapt to the environment. Their living quarters are usually built with tall floors and low roofs, the sizes differing according to ones social status and position. Homes of the ordinary tribes people are usually with one single level of roof, while those of the local aristocrats have two or more levels forming a castle-like shape. The space thus provided is believed to help air circulation. An interesting feature of the Shan style is the perforated designs along the eaves which are an architectural identity of the area.
If you are in the area during March-May, before the Buddhist Rain Retreat starts, you may be lucky enough to catch the area’s famous Poy Sanglong Procession. The ‘Festival of the Crystal Sons’ is in fact the celebration of novice ordination which the Shan hold to be a highly meritorious occasion. Traditionally, the candidate-novice, his head cleanly shaven and wrapped with head-cloth in the Burmese style, will don a prince-like garment and put on valuable jewels and gems, and ride a horse or be carried over the shoulders of a man to the city shrine. On the ordination eve, a procession of offerings and other necessary personal belongings will be paraded through the town streets and then placed at the monastery where the ordination will take place the next day.
The National Park is on the Chiang Mai, Pai, Mae Hong Sorn loop that is a must for anyone travelling around the North of Thailand. If you are coming from Pai, the National Park Headquarters will be on your right between Km. 190 and Km. 195. If you are driving North from Mae Hong Sorn the National Park Headquarters is about 20 kms. along highway 1095.
Thaam Pla cave (Tham = cave, Pla = fish) -้ำปลา
The cave is filled with numerous freshwater fish known as Pla Moong or Pla Pluang, which are of the same family as the carp. The fish are believed to belong to the gods by the local population and as such are in no danger of ending up on the dinner menu. Mysteriously, no one knows exactly what is in the small submerged cave, but thousands of fish are drawn into it but only a small number come back out! There are manicured gardens and 5 Guest Houses and also a camping ground right next to the Cave. Its a great place to relax with the forests, cliffs, and limestone mountains providing an idyllic place for a picnic.
Pha Sua Waterfall (น้ำตกผาเสื่อ)
Approximately 20 meters high and 30 meters wide, Pha Sua Waterfall is widely regarded as the most beautiful waterfall in the province. In the rainy season, the cliff overflows with the rains creating the appearance of a rolling mat hence the name “Pha Sua”. The waterfall is situated 26 kilometers North of Mae Hong Song on Route 1095 at Km. 191.
Thaam Pha Daeng Cave (-้ำผาแ"ง)
A large cave filled with beautifully shaped stalactites and stalagmites and a stream that leads down into the cave for about a kilometer best describes Thaam Pha Daeng. The limestone cave is an ancient burial ground and there are numerous coffins pinned into the cave’s walls. Together with the hundreds of thousands of bats that are the caves more modern residents, you might find a visit here mysterious and even a little scary!
Mae Sa-Nga Dam (เขื่อนพลังน้ำแม่สะงา)
Has been constructed down from Mae Sa - Nga Waterfall for generating electrical power and irrigation. The small soil dam is approximately 37 meters high, 37 meters long, and 780,000 m3 capacity. The location with scenic view is good for picnic.
Huay Poang-On Waterfall (น้ำตกห้วยโป่งอ่อน)
Is very small source of water that provides the village of Huay Poang-On. It is about 7 meters high, 5 meters wide and 40 m2 area. People can enjoy the waterfall and surrounding view thronghout the year.
Mae Sa-Nga Glang Waterfall (น้ำตกแม่สะงา)Beautiful year round the Mae Sa-Nga Klang Waterfall situated above Mae Sa-Nga Dam. The Waterfall is approximately 15 meters high and 10 meters wide, and can be easily accessed by walking 1.5 kilometers from the area of Pha Sua Waterfall.
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