Previously, the park was named Chiang Dao National Park. Located in the north of Thailand, near Chiang Mai Town, it covers the area of Amphoe Chiang Dao, Amphoe Wiang Haeng and Amphoe Chai Prakan. The park’s 1,155 square kilometres encompasses high mountains and deep valleys of verdant forest. It is the limestone mountains in this area that feed the sparkling streams which eventually give rise to the mighty Mae Ping River.
The park’s highest peak is Doi Puk Phak Ka, which soars 1,794 metres above sea level and offers awesome panoramic views of the area, weather permitting, of course, as well as a cool year-round climate. Even in foggy times, however, the view can be quite striking.
Attractions in the park include:
Si Sangwan Waterfall – This captivating limestone cascade is just 150 m away from the park office. The waterfall is about 20 metres high. Set amidst lush green forest, the relaxing surrounding area provides idyllic beauty.
Huai Hok Waterfall – Perfect for adventurer-lovers, an 8-hour trek from the park office is required to reach this gem set amidst deep forest. It is accessible only on foot. The single-level waterfall is about 20 metres high and splashes down spectacularly into a large basin of crystal-clear water surrounded by lush greenery.
The Origin of the Ping River – The Mae Ping is one of the four major rivers of Northern Thailand. It originates from a small spring flowing endlessly from the mountain rocks, which is accessible only by foot, and the trek takes about 2 hours from the park office. Local villagers revere this gully as a sacred place. Therefore, each year at the beginning of the rice harvest, local villagers hold special rites here to pay homage to the spirit of the river, thanking her for her benevolence and life-giving beauty, and also apologizing for any possible insults. The rites are believed to usher in an auspicious harvest season. The villagers are kind and wholeheartedly respectful towards Mother Nature, and feel a great gratitude towards Nature in all her manifestations. These annual rites act to purify the people, and to ensure a warm, serene and respectful mindset in the participants themselves.
Pong Ang Hot Spring – The temperature of this natural hot spring is 70 – 80 degrees Celsius. It is located only 3 kilometres south of the park office. Pong Ang Hot Spring is a small natural hot water pool with water flowing all year round and is also a great place for bird watching. Many species of birds flock there, providing an ever-changing explosion of foliage.
Doi Pha Tang – This high rocky mountain has a gigantic round stone standing on it. It is located near km 93 on Highway 107 (Chiang Mai – Fang). From Dec – Jan, blooming Sakura flowers provide picturesque scenery. This area is home to the Chinese Haw, the Hmong and Yao minority groups. From the mountaintop, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Thai and Lao rural areas. The mountain is most popular during winter when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom and a sea of mist covers the whole area.
Pang Tong Waterfall – The beautiful Pang Tong Waterfall is hidden among the lush green forest of the National Park. Originating from the Khun Mae Ngai River, the Waterfall is known for an interesting feature: the water flows through underground channels for 60 m before exiting through holes in the cliff face to become a dazzling waterfall with 3 levels and 2 sections.
Apart from its many waterfalls (nam tok) and gurgling streams, Pha Daeng National Park also offers highlights such as caves (tham) which are jeweled with exotic stalactites and stalagmites, such as Tham Pha Chan, Tham Doi Klang Mueang, and Tham Huai Cha Khan. There are also several more deliciously beautiful waterfalls, scented with the delicate aura of fine drops of mist, where visitors will enjoy scenic beauty mingled with the soothing sounds of the jungle canopy mixed with splashing water, such as Namtok Thung Kaeo and Op Ping.
The park boasts a gorgeous 2.5 kilometres nature trail that winds through a mix of deciduous forest and gently undulating slopes. The trail should take the average hiker between 2-3 hours to cover, and information is available at the Visitor’s Centre which is open daily from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm. The national park is adorned with a wide variety of flora and is home to fauna of many types.
The park offices provide camping grounds and two bungalows. Advance reservation is available through http://www.dnp.go.th, or tel. 0 5381 8348 or 08 1883 7371.
Getting there – Take highway 107 (Chiang Mai – Fang) to km 79, then turn left and drive along highway 1178 for about 24 kilometres to Ban Na Wai. Turn left and continue for another 150 metres to the office of Pha Daeng National Park.