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Doi Phukha National Park

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Named after the 1,980m tall Phukha mountain, Doi Phukha National Park is the largest park in Nan province and the largest in Thailand's north, stretching over 1,680 square km.

The park's late establishment in June 2000 meant that the areas gazetting failed to save much, if any, of the larger wildlife that were previously hunted extensively here. Even the birdlife appears to be lower than what you'd expect for a park of this size.

Nevertheless the park has quite a good network of trails that make for pleasant walking -- walking safe in the knowledge that you're chances of being attacked by anything larger than a leech are close to non-existent.

One of the trails, a scenic 4.5km (2-3 hours), leech-infested wander, departs around 50m from the park restaurant and takes you through a range of forests from untouched watershed and reforested forest to wild banana groves and natural regrowth. The trail also takes you by the park's famous Ancient Palms -- very very old palms.

You can see more palms from a constructed viewing platform around 8km from the park office -- you'll need your own transport (or be willing to walk 16km round trip to see some old palm trees) to get there.

Despite a dearth of material in English, foreigners pay 200B admission. However, if you don’t plan on sleeping in the Park, the admission fee can be circumvented by simply not entering the main gate; some walking trails and sights, such as the ancient palms and the Chompoo Phukha Trees can be accessed from Highway 1256 that runs through the park. In addition, a myriad of scenic viewpoints line the highway; all one has to do is park on the side of the road and enjoy the views of distant mountains and farmland.

As previously mentioned, the park is quite big, so its sights are sprawled out over a very large area. Though the park headquarters are located in the center of the park between Pua and Bo Kleua, various waterfalls and trekking trails can be reached from other areas and districts in Nan; however, the literature to help direct you to these places is at the Headquarters, so stopping by there at some point is probably necessary to learn how to get full use out of the park and its attractions.

In addition, it should be noted that the majority of the attractions in the park are best enjoyed during the dry season (October-May). However, many trails will still be in good shape depending on the conditions of the day, and waterfalls are always at their best during the rainy season

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Nan has more than its fair share of national parks, and Doi Phukha is easily the best. The views are staggering, the flora spectacular and there's an excellent range of accommodation, from camping through to quite smart chalets. For the nature lover, the park has tremendous potential and while it sees a steady trade in Thai tourists, foreigners are few and far between. The park is rumoured to have all manner of wild and wicked beasties, but a ranger told us they'd all gone to Laos on holiday.

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Text and/or map last updated on 29th October, 2015.

Last reviewed by:
Stuart McDonald co-founded with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.

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