Around 60 miles north of Chiang Mai, in the mountains of the Pai district, lies Huai Nam Dang National Park. This Park hosts what is representative for Thailand’s north: lush forests, mellow hills and a sea of fog revealing only peaks of the surrounding green hills. It covers 480 square miles on top of the Chiang Dao Mountain range.
The highest mountain in Huai Nam Dang National Park
The highest mountain within Huai Nam Dang National Park is Doi Chang, whose peak stands 1,926 meters above sea level. It’s the third highest peak in Thailand, too. In case you plan to hike to the top, you need to buy a permit at the National Park office, which costs 200 THB. You can complete the guide in a single day, maybe around ten hours. However, there is also a camping area on the way. There’s a guided ascent with camping at the summit, which can be booked with the Chiang Mai Hiking Club or at resorts in Chiang Dao. The limestone massif is also one of the best birdwatching spots in Thailand.
Doi Kiew Lom
In case you’re not up for the long hike, you can also enjoy some fantastic views from Doi Kiew Lom viewpoint. The drive up to the viewpoint has enough good roads. At the top, you’ll find a cafe, some crafts shops, and a bathroom. The views are amazingly beautiful. On clear days you should see the surrounding mountains and all the way to the city of Pai. But don’t worry, even with mist swirling through the valleys the views are spectacular. I dare say it even adds a little charm.
In the cold season, which is mostly from December to February, this spot is very popular to stay overnight or come in the early morning to witness the magnificent sea of mist. That’s because it’s said to be one of the most impressive natural events in northern Thailand, as the mountains protrude from the white ocean in the morning. Far from the pollution of the major cities, on clear nights you can witness millions of stars in the sky.
Huai Nam Dang Waterfall
Huai Nam Dang Waterfall, the name-giver of Huai Nam Dang National Park, is 50 meters high and 40 meters wide, 4-story waterfall. Other impressive waterfalls of the area are Mae Yen Waterfall and Mae Lat Waterfall. If you’re a fan of watersports, you might enjoy rafting on Mae Taeng river. A bit further from the National Park office and closer to Pai are the Tha Pai Hot Springs. They’re wonderfully hot for relaxation. It is the most expensive off the hot springs in the area. But it stands out by being more than lukewarm, which was my experience with other springs in the area.
Wikipedia says: Animal species include elephant, sambar deer, tiger, macaque, mongoose, porcupine, palm civet, and wild boar. Bird life includes thick-billed green pigeon, vernal hanging parrot, Richard’s Pipit, rufous-throated partridge, hill myna, and bulbul.