Worth a visit
Published/Last edited or updated: 19th December, 2016
Though not as famous as the Mekong, Yangtse or Irrawaddy, the Salween (or Salawin) is one of Asia’s mightiest rivers. Originating in the Tibetan foothills before flowing through Yunnan, northeastern Burma and out into the Gulf of Martaban and Bay of Bengal at Mawlamyine, it is the 26th longest river in the world, stretching an impressive 2, 800 kilometres. A short stretch of it in southern Mae Hong Son province forms the border between Thailand and Burma.
Salween (Salawin) National Park is located in the far west of Mae Sariang district, Mae Hong Son, and encompasses the well preserved forested hills along the slopes of the watershed between the Yuam and Salween Rivers. It’s a large national park of more than 720 square kilometres, and was created recently, incorporating parts of the already established Salween Wildlife Sanctuary and Lum Nam Khong National Park. It connects to the equally large Mae Yuam Wildlife Sanctuary to the north and is adjacent to the Nam Ngao National Park to the south, creating a vast area of forest and mountains.
The topography is a mixture of evergreen and deciduous, and the limestone hills rise to over a thousand metres. Though the park covers such a substantial area, the park headquarters and visitor centre are conveniently located only eight kilometres from Mae Sariang town near Huay Wai village. Cross the bridge and follow the signs. On arriving in the first village — Mae Salap — a left turn continues to Mae Sam Leap while a right turn takes you a few more kilometres up a scenic valley to the well signposted park entrance.
Here you’ll find the ticket booth — it’s 100 baht to enter — plus the park accommodation and visitor centre. Considering what an out of the way park this is, we were surprised by the latter. They have obviously made an effort, with a photographic display of flora and fauna with some English-language explanations, an English-language pamphlet — which many more popular national parks in Thailand don’t have — and a signposted nature trail. The staff still seemed surprised when an actual foreign visitor did turn up!
The two-kilometre nature trail winds through bamboo and dry dipterocarp forest, and you’ll likely see butterflies, birds, small mammal life, petrified wood, termite mounds, lichens, mosses and various flora — the birdlife here is particularly rich. The trail takes you on a round trip up the hill behind the park buildings to the watershed, then back down again to your starting point. There are of course longer treks through the vast park, but you’d need to get yourself a local guide in town or see if you can find an English-speaking park warden.
The park offers chalet-style accommodation, as well as camping, and several other sites in the park such as Tha Ta Fang on the Salween. They had five large chalets close to the visitor centre each with four rooms, so sleeping up to 12. The chalet went for 1,200 baht per night or just a room with shared bathroom facilities in the chalet a very reasonable 300 baht.
Address: Mae Sariang district
T: (053) 071 429, (081) 366 7356, (093) 303 9713;
Coordinates (for GPS): 97º53'5.31" E, 18º9'53.42" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Admission: 100 baht
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.