Photo: Chiang Dao.

Pha Daeng National Park

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One of Thailand’s larger national parks, at 1,225 square kilometres, but also one of its least visited, remote Pha Daeng lies in the very far north of Chiang Mai province and abuts the Burmese border. To the east, the park includes the southern slopes of Doi Ang Khang and to the west stretches almost as far as Wiang Haeng. It incorporates parts of Chiang Dao district and this is where the visitor centre and park headquarters are situated.

Sri Sangwan Waterfall

Sri Sangwan waterfall.

The park as a whole is largely rugged mountains reaching up to 1,800 metres, and includes dry dipterocarp forest, mixed deciduous, pine and montane evergreen — the wide range of habitats results in a large number of bird species while Asian black bears, banteng, muntjac, serow and Chinese gorals are thought to live within the park’s confines. The park also includes the watersheds of the Fang, Ping and Taeng rivers; the Ping slices through the centre of Pha Daeng. The main park entrance is set up around one of Pha Daeng’s more accessible features, Sri Sangwan Waterfall.

Park HQ and main entrance

Park headquarters and main entrance.

This is a well organised and laid out park with its headquarters building, ticket office and visitor centre all conveniently located around a small carpark, from where a short trail to the waterfall begins. There’s also a 2.5 kilometre forest trail loop with noted points of interest beginning and ending here too. In addition, there’s a fern house and herb garden, English-language pamphlets and maps, and the little visitor centre has bilingual information. Good on them — and bear in mind very few people actually visit this park, other than a few picnicking locals who come over weekends to visit the waterfall.

Calcium accretions at Sri Sawan

Calcium accretions at Sri Sawan.

The falls themselves are pretty rather than spectacular, but the peaceful setting plus turquoise pools and multiple cascades tumbling between fern-clad rocks all add up to a picturesque scene. The falls descend around 50 metres in total over a series of small drops and some of the lower pools are suitable for bathing.

Pong Ang Hot Springs

Pong Ang Hot Springs.

For a hot bath, you need to get back onto the road and head south for three kilometres until you reach the Pong Ang Hot Springs. Set in a pleasantly landscaped garden, they are not as impressive as the Doi Pha Hom Pok springs in Fang but they’re a lot more attractive than the grotty Chiang Dao ones.

Hot mineral bath at Pong Ang

Hot mineral bath at Pong Ang.

Paths and bridges weave between the bubbling pools and bathing ponds, with adjacent showers/changing rooms should you wish to take the waters. This is another serene spot, and with its remote setting we can’t believe things get too crowded, even on a bank holiday weekend. The springs are part of the national park so one entrance ticket gets you into both places, so it’s a good deal for 100 baht.

Hot springs and mineral baths at Pha Daeng National Park

The fairies are just out of shot.

The park entrance has a campsite and chalets for rent, plus there’s another campsite at the summit of Doi Kham Fa, the park’s highest peak at 1,834 metres. More details can be found on their website.

The entrance area, waterfall and springs are all very cute, but Pha Daeng has a lot more out there to offer that at present isn’t easily accessed by the casual visitor. The advantage of this far-flung setting is that the nature is still relatively pristine and the park isn’t crowded with visitors, but the downside is a lack of infrastructure: no English-speaking guides, no longer trails and no private tours and programmes.

Pha Daeng was formerly known as Chiang Dao National Park. Note that Doi Chiang Dao is part of Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary and not part of the park itself.

How to get there
The main park entrance is clearly marked in English and lies just a few hundred metres off the main road, Route 1178. It's around 15 kilometres from Arunothai or 30 from Chiang Dao.

Pha Daeng National Park
Moo 3, Muang Na, Chiang Dao
Daily 08:00-18:00
T: (053) 046 370 F: (053) 818 371;
Admission: Adults 100 baht, children 50 baht, motorbike 20 baht.

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Location map for Pha Daeng National Park

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Chiang Dao.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Chiang Dao.
 Check out our listings of other things to do in and around Chiang Dao.
 Read up on how to get to Chiang Dao, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Chiang Dao? Please read this.
 Browse tours in Thailand with Tourradar.

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