Special Tour: Top National Parks in Thailand

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By Theresa Yiju Lin

Thailand (Muang Thai) is divided into five different regions geographically, the North, the North-East, the East, the Central and the South. Thailand is a tropical country with numerous forests and waterfalls. Within the national borders, it provides a home to many rare plants, animals and insects. Botanists’ research showed there are 27,000 different plants grown in Thailand including the national flower, the orchid. Animals living in the jungles include Asian elephants, some species of deer, wild buffalo, Asiatic black bears, clouded leopards, tapirs, sun bears and monkeys. They make the tours at the national parks in Thailand enjoyable and entertaining. Visitors can expect a series of surprises and appreciate the beauty of the nature.

My mother visited Thailand in 1994 for the first time. She is usually not an outdoor person, but she was so impressed by the smiley country and the variety of the orchids, which are her favorite flowers.


There are 17 provinces and 55 national parks in the Northern Thailand. This region has the most national parks in the country.

Mae Surin Waterfall
Mae Surin Waterfall National Park was founded in 1981, located in Mae Hong Son province in the north-west. It is the 37th national park of Thailand. The whole area is 397 square kilometers. In Khun Yuam, a few tribes, Karen and Hmong hill and Toong Buat Tong, reside in the area. In November, there will be sunflowers blooming on the field. The best time to visit the park for camping and hiking is the cold season (between November and February).

At the beginning of the Huay Mae Sagert nature trail, there is a visitor center. The trail is an awesome place for bird watching; each year many tourists come here to observe the diverse bird species. Other places to visit in the park include Doi Pui, Nam Tok Mae Surin and Nam Tok Pa Bong. Doi Pui is the highest peak in the park, during the hot season, there are wild flowers blooming. Nam Tok Mae Surin has a greater view, the water pours onto the rocks that are 100 meters below. It is the tallest single tier waterfall in Thailand. The landscape allows the visitors to view the waterfalls from the top, across the valley and down the hills. Nam Tok waterfall is a relatively small waterfall, which has no water during the hot season. Huay Fai Kor has a garden and small zoo and is about 200 meters away from the river, which is a wonderful place for swimming and relaxation.

Mae Hong Son is about 900 kilometers away from Bangkok and 368 kilometers from Chiang Mai. Tourists can choose to ride the bus from Bangkok or Chiang Mai, or they can fly from Chiang Mai. For visitors’ convenience, there is public bus system provided, but if you wish to explore more in the park, renting a car is highly recommended. In the Mae Surin, there are campgrounds for those who wish to spend the night.

Doi Inthanon
Doi Inthanon National Park is in Chom Thong of the Chiang Mai province. The highest peak in Thailand, Doi Inthanon, is 2,565 meters above the sea level. The park was established in 1997 and covers an area of 482 square kilometers. It is also the home of many main rivers in the North regions. In Doi Inthanon, visitors can find over 264 species of butterflies and birds. Many of them are only found in Doi Inthanon. Karen and Hmong inhabit in this area. Tourists are welcome to visit them to learn the hill villagers’ cultures. Hikers and mountaineers usually come to Doi Inthanon during the winter time for relaxation.

Visitors’ favorite places are sceneries of forests, wild animals, waterfalls and caves. Phu Kra Dung, also called “thousand-year-roses,” can be found in this area. In the east section of the park, there are Prijinda Cave and Mae Klang Waterfall. They are also both very popular recreational options for the locals. In the South, the Mae Ya Waterfall is the highest in Thailand and a popular scene for many professional photographers. Near Km 31, there are Doi Khun Klang and the Siripum Waterfall. Each year in the rainy season, they bring people a vast of lush and fresh water.


North-east region has a total of 19 provinces. The land is about one third of the country, and there are many minority groups living in the area.

Khao Yai
Khao Yai founded in 1962 is the first national park of Thailand. It is also the second largest national park in Thailand. The area is 2,167 square kilometers. The area includes 11 districts and 4 provinces; Sara Buri, Nakhon Ratchasima, Prachin Buri, and Nakhon Nayok.

Each year, the rainforest, wildlife and numerous waterfalls attract a great number of people to the park. The park is the best known for the waterfalls. The famous waterfalls include Nam Tok Nang Rong and Nam Tok Sarica, Nam Tok Kongkaew, Nam Tok Pha Kloi Mai , Nam Tok Heo Suwat, Nam Tok Heo Narok, Nam Tok Mai Plong, Nam Tok Wang Heo, Nam Tok Heo Sai, Nam Tok Manaw and Nam Tok Tad Ta Phu. Among all of them, Nam Tok Nang Rong and Nam Tok Sarica are Thai people’s favorite. The broad, flourishing forests and plentiful wildlife gives Khao Yai a unique character. Its location is 400 meters above the sea level and higher, which has a more pleasant climate than the rest of the places in the Central Thailand. Many locals come to Khao Yai to be away from the heat in the hot season.

Khao Yai gains its popularity for its easy accessibility. The public transportation system serves tourists as they need. Visitors can ride buses or trains to arrive at different entrances of the park. Car rental is also possible. There are three different types of accommodations available at the Khao Yai National Park: lodging house, tourist house and tents. Reservation is required.


There are 22 provinces in the Central Thailand. the surrounding area the capital of the country, Bangkok, is the heart of Thailand.

Kaeng Krachan
Kaeng Krachan National Park is the largest national park in Thailand. It encompasses four districts in Phetchaburi including Amphur Nong Ya Plong, Amphur Kaeng Krachan, and Amphur Tha Yang and one district, Amphur Hua Hin, in Prachuab Khiri Khan.

The climate is humid throughout the year. About 80 percent of the park is dominated by the ever-green forest. The wildlife activities in the park are made by bisons, barking deer, deer, tigers, monkeys, langurs, gibbons, and bears. Waterfalls include Chonlanark Waterfall, Pa La Au Waterfall and Hou Pa Ngao Waterfalls. The Nature Route about 800 meters long starts at a parking lot and ends Pa La Au Waterfall. Houy Pa Lao Reservoir is the best place for bird watching in the park. The Nam Fon Cliff by the Petchaburi River allows the tourists to go under the cliff that provides visitors an exceptional view.

Public transportation is available; visitors can either ride a bus from Bangkok and change to service motorcycle or drive on their own. There are six guest houses in the park. Each rent house fits five to fifteen people. Additionally, there are restaurants in the park. Kaeng Krachan is a great resort to visit all year long.


The 14 provinces in the Southern Thailand have forests, mountains, waterfalls, beaches, caves, lakes, and islands. They add a variety of flavors to the peninsula. Its location serves an important business function with foreign countries as well.

Khao Luang
Khao Luang is the highest peak in the peninsular Thailand in the Southern Thailand. The park covers 570 square kilometers. It contains places of several districts in Nakhon Sri Thammarat.

Tourist attractions involve with Garom waterfall, Gow Suragan Cave, Khao Luang Mountain all in Lansaka district. The tallest Khao Luang Mountain in the park is about 1,835 meters above sea level. Other well-known waterfalls in the park include Phrom Lok Waterfall in Phormkiri district and Suan Ai Waterfall is in Chawang district, Krung Ching Waterfall in Nop Phi Tam district. Tha Phae Waterfall is just along the road from Karom Waterfall.

The best way to reach Khao Luang is by car. Visitors can take Highway 4015 to the west from Nakhon Si Thammarat to Lansaka district. There is a sign on the right hand side indicating the direction to the park headquarters. Housing options are the seven bungalows in the park and other private accommodations in the village.

For more information about the national parks in Thailand, go to Thai Parks. Or visit Thailand’s official Web site of tourism.

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