5 Beautiful National Parks in North Thailand (First-hand Info)

Discover 5 beautiful national parks in North Thailand, a nature paradise that I explored and want to share with you. Thailand is a country blessed with stunning natural beauty and there are so many national parks, you might not even know where or how to start. Here you can find out about North Thailand national parks, which will give you inspiration for nature and some helpful information, all gained from personal experience.

There are uncountable breathtaking places in North Thailand worth visiting. Here, you will be brought along with the ones I personally visited and that I really think are worth mentioning. They can be visited on a day trip but if you want to have a more profound experience, I would suggest you not to be in a rush and take a few day’s time. The great thing about Thailand`s national parks is that in many of them you can find accommodation and, for more adventurous spirits, a nice camping grounds. Nobody is perfect but please never leave a negative trace in these precious, rare still preserved areas and if you choose a guided tour, try finding a company with an eco-conscious philosophy that gives back to local communities. Sometimes it is better to skip official tour activities (which can be often damaging to the environment) and just take an independent walk on the trails.

Doi Luang National Park

There is less dramatic sightseeing here compared to some other places in Thailand but sometimes beauty is found in small things. The park itself is hidden from the crowds and absolutely huge, one of the biggest in North Thailand (just South of Chang Rai), so there is a lot to discover. You can start in the Northern part, which I visited, where there is an official park HQ which is easily accessible by asphalt road. Once you pay a small entrance fee, you are free to enter. The park has one of the nicest designated official camping areas where you can set your camp equipment or even rent one of many cozy tents that are charmingly placed on a bamboo platform. From the camping area, there is an easy to moderately demanding walking path leading you along a forest stream where you pass a number of little waterfalls and pools. All that surrounded by lush green vegetation, flowing clear water, and many birds creating beautiful sounds. Here I met a Thai man traveling the country with his motorbike who told me he came here to camp and relax as there are not many other people visiting (comparing to some other famous parks). There are also more adventurous trekking opportunities in the park. Paths leading you to one of the mountain peaks, which activities you should officially arrange with park authorities. On the way, it is also worth to visit the “Phayao” lake and a town, East of the park.

Entrance fee: Yes
Camping grounds: Yes
Public transport: No
People visiting: Low
Closest big town: Phayao, Chiang Rai
Wildlife (some rarely seen): Common Muntjak. Common Wild Boar, Palm Civet, Civet, Malayan Flying Lemur, Bear, Siamese Hare. Macaques, different birds such as Vernal Hanging Parrot, Partridge, Richard’s Pipit, Sooty headed Bulbul and Blue-winged Pitta
More about: https://mychiangmaitour.com/doiluang_national_park/

Doi Inthanon

The highest mountain in Thailand with a cloud forest and many waterfalls. This is actually one of the most visited and crowded parks in Thailand but it is still worth a visit. It has an insanely high number of waterfalls and many of them are absolutely majestic. On the top, you will also find a cloud forest which is really unique but can be visited only with a guided group. Most of the sights are easily accessible. On the downside, there is a big road going through the park towards the peak which can get very busy and you almost lose a feeling you are in a protected area. It is definitely worth to visit this unique place, but be prepared to meet large crowds and everything more tightly controlled. With that said, there are still some peaceful places a person can found here, where the majority of visitors don’t go. For example, look for Mae Ya waterfall.

Entrance fee: Yes
Accommodation: No
Camping grounds: Yes
Public transport: Yes
Closest big town: Chiang Mai
People visiting: High
Wildlife (some rarely seen): Common Muntjak. Common Wild Boar, Palm Civet, Civet, Malayan Flying Lemur, Bear, Siamese Hare. Macaques, different birds such as Vernal Hanging Parrot, Partridge, Richard’s Pipit, Sooty headed Bulbul and Blue-winged Pitta


Pha Daeng National Park (Chiang Dao)

Another less known yet amazing park which is full of diverse natural beauty. It’s composed of steep mountain slopes covered by lush forests. Near the park forest office (ที่ทำการเขตรักษาพันธุ์สัตว์ป่าดอยเชียงดาว), you can find a nice and easy walking path to the monastery of Wat Tham Pha Plong which is hidden in the middle of the forest. Very suitable for birdwatching. There are also amazing trekking opportunities with asphalt road leading towards the peaks but this needs to be arranged with the park authorities office. Chiang Dao nature trail starting at the park entrance (foresty office) is really worth to go without any entrance fee.

Entrance fee: Yes (not everywhere)
Accommodation: Yes
Camping grounds: Yes (not official)
Public transport: Yes (to nearest town)
Closest big town:
People visiting: Low
Wildlife (some rarely seen): Goral, wild boar, barking deer, banteng, guar, porcupine, langur, palm civet, squirrel, chipmunk, many kinds of birds.
More about: https://mychiangmaitour.com/pha_daeng_national_park/


Mae Surin Waterfall (Nam Tok Mae Surin)

My absolutely favorite park of all the ones visited in North Thailand with one of the highest waterfalls in the country. It is a bit out of the way but once you reach the area you will never regret it. Already on the way to the park, there is great scenery to be seen and many interesting points to stop. The park itself is huge and very diverse. From rich jungle-like vegetation near a lake to highest waterfall ever seen to very scenic, vegetation bare landscape views of the hills towards Myanmar. It is a good place for listening and watching birds. I have visited first the Northern part where the park HQ is located. There you can find a lake nestled amongst the forest with walking paths and very nice camping grounds near the river. After that, I went some 20km South to reach the bottom part of the park where a huge scenic Mae Surin waterfall is located. Also here you will find a park ranger HQ (bamboo hut) and maybe some house accommodation but surely a bare camping ground. There is a nice, easy walking path taking you to the edge of the cliff where the scenic view of the majestic waterfall and distant landscape opens. The real, authentic countryside of Thailand.

Entrance fee: Yes
Accommodation: No (Maybe)
Camping grounds: Yes
Public transport: Yes (to Mae Hong Son) near the park North HQ
Closest big town: ​Mae Hong Son
People visiting: Low
Wildlife (some rarely seen): Malayan sun bear, Asiatic black bear, serow, barking deer, lar gibbon, wild boar, python and cobra. Birdlife includes drongo and hornbill.
More about: https://mychiangmaitour.com/namtokmaesurin_national_park/


Khao Yai

Famous UNESCO national park close to Bangkok. The park is already situated a bit down in Central Thailand but I thought it is still worth to mention it. I really can’t blame the popularity of it as nature here is really one of the kind. There is surprisingly a lot of wildlife roaming around the forests or even main asphalt roads that lead through the park. You can see a lot of animals on a regular basis. As it is so South, it already has signs of lush tropical rainforest vegetation. It is also quite a popular place for locals, which have a strange passion for camping. During my visit one of the camping grounds was full of Thai local people setting up tents, BBQs and even TVs; it was a bit messy. There are many walking paths and interest points to explore. Your experience really depends on which area of the park you find yourself in. Many locations can get really busy and crowded but there are also many where you can find peace, feel alone in the wild and even observe animals. One great hiking trail goes from Lam Ta Khong camping ground towards the famous Haew Su Wat waterfall, passing over ​Pha Kluai Mai Waterfall where you follow a river through a beautiful, lush forest.​

Entrance fee: Yes
Accommodation: No
Camping grounds: Yes, few
Public transport: No
Closest big town: Bangkok​
People visiting: High
Wildlife (some rarely seen): More than 70 mammal species have been recorded in Khao Yai. These include larger species like elephants, sambar deer, barking deer, gaur, civets, porcupines, wild boars, gibbons, macaques, wild dogs and tigers. Khao Yai has the largest population of wild elephants in all of Thailand.
More about: https://www.alexinwanderland.com/the-complete-guide-to-khao-yai-national-park/

Happy and safe travel

Those are 5 of the parks I visited and can tell you about. There are so many other amazing parks in Thailand waiting to be discovered and worth a visit; each one unique in its own way and with its own magic. If you feel a bit more adventurous and want to experience and immerse yourself into these natural places in a more profound, deeper way, I suggest you check out my previous article on “CAMPING GUIDE TO SOUTHEAST ASIA” where you can find information about multiple days staying in these beautiful places by camping.

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