Take a walk in the woods
From the park entrance, the main hiking route works out at a total of some 14 kilometres there and back, however since the first part that winds past all the bungalows is a sealed road you can shave off three kilometres by driving or hitching a ride to the small car park. From here the trail is reasonably easy and straightforward to follow but it can get steep in parts. Take plenty of water and, especially if hiking on your own, let park wardens know where you’re going.
Point or Yaw One is the first point you’ll reach at either the kilometre one or four point, after walking through mainly secondary forest and bamboo. It is here that Thai State Railways built a house for Emil Eisenhofer, who oversaw the building of the railway tunnel to Khun Tan. The house has since been used by various other VIP visitors.
A scenic spot, Yaw Two is about a kilometre from Yaw One and five kilometres from the Park HQ. During this section of the walk the forest cover begins to improve considerably and becomes lusher with more shade. Yaw Two was used as a base for the Thai Army and was also a camp for the British Bombay Company during teak extraction.
After World War II, a certain Dr Kukrit bought himself a bit of land here and built himself a nice little house and garden. To reach the house, you’ll come to a point on the main trail where a secondary trail goes up to your right and there is a gate to your left – go through the gate to reach Kukrit’s house (watch out for the dogs here). If you follow the trail up to your right you’ll reach an eerie clearing in a small pine grove where the temperature is at least 10 degrees below elsewhere — this is a good spot to relax for a bite to eat and a drink.
Yaw Three at the six-kilometre point marks where a missionary camp once existed, but looking at the service area, it seems it’s been quite some time between services. There’s a spectacular viewpoint down in front of where the new accommodation is.
The view from Yaw Four, the summit of Doi Khun Tan at 1,373 metres, is the highlight of a visit to the National Park. The peak has been pretty much cleared, allowing for spectacular 360 degrees views of the surrounding area. Camping is not allowed on the peak, but a 10-minute walk back down the hill has an ideal campground marked out. The forest cover between Yaw Three and Four is by far the best on the trail.
Back at headquarters, a second trail leads past the camp site to Tad Moey — a smallish waterfall lying around three kilometres from the park headquarters.
It’s pretty enough in rainy season though a bit of a non-event during the dry months, but it does at least provide an alternative trail to hiking up the sealed road. The track is largely through secondary and bamboo forest, with evergreen in the valleys, and is generally simple to follow and reasonably well signposted — albeit slightly less so than the main piste.
From the falls, instead of returning by the same route, a trail continues another kilometre or so up to Yaw Two.
Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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