Scenic spot and good for birders
Published/Last edited or updated: 19th December, 2016
The headquarters buildings, visitor’s centre and accommodation are situated in Mae Chai district of the latter, set around a picturesque lake – Mae Puem - the national park’s salient feature.
The lake-side setting – actually a reservoir and you’ll pass over the Mae Peum Dam in order to reach the park entrance – is very scenic with well tended gardens, and seating areas looking across the water but that’s where the visitors’ facilities end. The visitor’s centre itself had a grand total of nine faded photos on a board and there were no maps, zero information and when we enquired about their very nice looking park chalets we were told to contact the Thai National Parks Department for details. A nature trail was indicated but impossible to find. Individual staff members were perfectly friendly and this attitude obviously comes from management who appear to consider that the park exists, despite of, rather than for, tourists.
If we’re not selling it to you it is worth a look if you’re heading in that direction. It’s especially good for birdwatchers since large flocks of geese and ducks migrate here during winter months. According to the Parks Department, Mae Puem is home to wild tigers but we’re a bit sceptical about that given the size. Anyway there’s definitely plenty of hills and forest out there so please sack the manager tout de suite because this is a beautiful spot and deserves better.
Mae Chai village, which you’ll pass through on the way, is an interesting and very lively village with a large market, plenty of eateries and a coffee shop.
To reach the park, head up route 1 for around 18 kilometres north of Phayao and there’s a signposted turn-off at the village of Pa Kha. From here it’s a short drive northeast to the park entrance. Alternatively if you don’t have transport take a songthaew from Phayao to Mae Chai, another 5km or so past Pa Kha and outside the market you ought to be able find a motorbike taxi to take you up to Mae Puem. The village market is worth a wander anyway.
T: (025) 795 269;
Coordinates (for GPS): 99º52'15.97" E, 19º21'8.56" N
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Admission: 100 baht adults, 50 baht children
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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