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Ob Luang National Park

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One of the more user-friendly Thai national parks, Ob Luang lies some 20 kilometres west of Hot on the Mae Sariang highway, or Route 108.

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Photo of Ob Luang National Park

The park entrance and headquarters are squeezed between the highway and the Chaem river on the right side of the highway. An excellent, well-marked trail with bilingual signs leads directly from the park entrance, and takes in the geographical and botanical highlights in the vicinity.

The trail begins with a high, narrow wooden footbridge over the Chaem gorge that would give Spiderman vertigo (ob means canyon or gorge in Thai), and heads up a rocky escarpment on the far bank. The trail then winds up through dipterocarp forest with several spectacular viewpoints affording vistas back over the river below. It takes in a spring, mineral lick, some prehistoric rock paintings and even an old burial site -- this area was evidently occupied in Stone Age times. Then it leads back down the hill, with more great views, to the bridge. It’s not bad for less than two kilometres though there’s lots of ups and downs, so allow at least 90 minutes for the walk.

The park overall is relatively small, covering some 550 square kilometres, but it adjoins Inthanon National Park to the north, creating a large contiguous area of protected deciduous, montane evergreen and pine forest.

Entrance fee for foreigners is 200 baht adult, 100 baht children but at least with this park we feel you get your money’s worth -- you’re not paying to look at a tiny litter-strewn waterfall, for instance. If you just want a view of the canyon, you don’t need to enter the park, since the road that continues on towards Mae Sariang provides great views back towards the river.

Large bungalows suited to up to 10 people and costing 2,100 baht a night are available at the park headquarters. They include three bedrooms, hot showers and fans. Subject to availability you may be able to rent just one room in the bungalow but ask since you’ll need to book in advance anyway.

Five kilometres past Ob Luang, a turning on the right has Route 1088 heading north to Mae Chaem, from where you can cut back down to Doi Inthanon and Chom Thong. It’s 45 kilometres of relatively straight valley road to Mae Chaem.

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