Parks

Khun Chae National Park

Khun Chae National Park, located one hour northeast of Chiangmai province, was declared a national park in1995 due to its important water resources, extensive forests, wildlife, beautiful waterfalls and scenic views. Deriving its name from Khun Chae Waterfall, this 270 square kilometer national park has been inhabited for approximately 100 years by Thai villagers. Recently, Karen and Lahu hilltribes have settled near the borders of the park.

Attraction In The Park

Maetow Waterfall

Have seven levels, the highest of which are about 40 meters, the lowest, though just a few meters high, are lovely and have water during the dry season. From the park headquarters, the trailhead to Maetow Waterfall is approximately 30-40 minutes by vehicle. From the trailheacd, all seven levels of the falls can be reached in approximately two hours.

Khun Chae Waterfall

Consists of six levels, each having of its own unique charm. A picnic area / campground is located at the trailhead to the waterfall and a rustic guest house is available for overnight stays. Khun Chae Waterfall are a two hour drive from the park headquarters and a one hour walk from the trailhead.

Doi Mot

The trail to Doi Mot passes through a spectacular wet evergreen forest. A lush, dense, multiple layered forest covers a clear cool pond, surrounded by a thick growth of ground plants including epiphytic and ground orchids, ferns, mosses and other plants that love shade and a wet environment. The top of the mountain, at 1700 meters, affords spectacular views of the forests and landscape of the surrounding area. Visitors can see Chiangmai province to the west, Chiangrai province to the east, Doi Lahnga in the south and to the north, Doi Phangome.

Doi Lahnga

At just over 2,000 meters, majestic Doi Lahnga is Thailand’s fifth highest peak. The trial to the top of Doi Lahnga enable visitors to see many spectacular views of Khun Chae National Park, and the surrounding area. Doi Lahnga and its many sister peaks are located on the extreme southern boundary of the park, adjacent to Jae Son National Park and Mae Dahkry National Park.

The Fascinating Fig Tree

One of the unique features of Khun Chae National Park is an enormous, structurally unique, fig tree that grows near the park headquarters. This tree is remarkable for its: size, covering an area of approximately 1,660 square meters; the number and variety of plants (epiphytes) that live on it; and the fantastic structural support that its large branches get from several supporting stems.

Forest Shrine

A small Buddhist shrine, located a short distance from the park headquarters, features a garden with a statue of the Buddha and a nature trial that follows a charming mountain stream. The outdoor temple is a peaceful and serene stop along the Chiangmai-Chiangrai highway for travel weary motorists and a pleasant stop for park visitors.

Mae Chang Khao Reservoir

Near Station One provides a relaxing setting for anglers and picnickers looking for a different twist. Picnickers ride out into the middle of the lake on a bamboo raft and enjoy their meal in the quiet and peaceful atmosphere of a freshwater lake.

Geology

Khun Chae National Park is located in an area where the exposed base rock is of two different types, igneous and sedimentary. Most of the park is covered with granite, an igneous rock common in northern Thailand. Granite looks like large grains of shiney salt and black pepper. The white part that looks like salt is really quartz and feldspar. The black part that looks like pepper is mica. Another igneous rock found in the park is called tuff which was expelled from a volcano as lava, but cooled relatively quickly into a gray, fine grained rock. This volcanic tuff can be found in parts of the eastern side of the park. The sedimentary rocks; sandstone, siltstone and shale are derived from sediments deposited in water and hardened into solid rock over vast periods of time. The sandstone found in Khun Chae is gray, with small grains of sand mixed in a dense, hard rock. The shale is buff colored, soft and splits easily along parallel lines. The landscape of Khun Chae is very steep with many creeks often dropping precipitously into a number of waterfalls. The steep terrain is caused primarily by the high volume of seasonal rain, and highly erodable soil.

Vegetation

Khun Chae National Park

The vegetation of Khun Chae National Park is generally related to elevation. From 300-800 meters, the forest is composed of bamboo, deciduous and deciduous dipterocarp-oak associations; from 800-1,000 meters, the forest is mixed evergreen and pine. Most of the forests above 1,800 meters has been burned repeatedly and rarely represents a natural condition. The stream bottoms are often surrounded by lush evergreen trees, wild bananas, fern, mosses and herbaceous vegetation. These stream bottoms often form a rich oasis of vegetation in a forest that is routinely burned by villagers that hunt wildlife and graze cattle. The ridges and mountain tops are typically covered with grasses, pine, oaks and dipterocarps. Near the eastern boundary of the park, a dry dipterocarp forest dominates the landscape.

Weather

The cold season lasts from November until July, the rainy season from July until November. During the hot dry season, February to July, the temperature range from 22 to 33 degrees Celsius. During the cold dry season, November to January, the temperature range from 2 to 29 degrees Celsius. In the rainy season temperature range from 19 to 29 degrees Celsius. Rainfall during the rainy season averages 60 mm. per month.

Wildlife

Mammals-Wildlife can be seen in several different habitats and times of the day in the park. The prime places to see wildlife are in the lush river valleys and moist forests near the higher parts of the park. Though many species of wildlife have disappeared from Thailand and Khun Chae National Park, the following list of animals have been seen recently within its boundaries: several species of civet; wildpig; barking deer; hog badger; many species of flying arboreal and ground squirrels; bats, hare. Possible species in Khun Chae include, Asiatic Black Bear, Slow Loris, White handed Gibbon, Leopard Cat, Serow. Birds: Ashy Drongo, Scarlet Minivet, Gray Headed Flycatcher, White Fronted Forktail, Brown Fish Owl, Crested Serpent Eagle, Shikra, Velvet Fronted-Nuthatch, Blue Throated Barbet, Copper Smith barbet, Blue Winged Leafbird, Brown Cheeked Fulveta, Red Bungle Fowl. Reptiles: Green Tree Viper, King Cobra, Flying Lizards, Geckos, Skinks.

Rules and Regulations

Your cooperation is appreciated in helping to protect and preserve the natural beauty of Khun Chae National Park. Please observe the following regulations during your stay.

  1. Take your garbage out with you, or place it in the containers provided. Your garbage can injure or kill wildlife, make the area unsightly for visitors that follow you and cost Khun Chae National Park.
  2. Do not collect, damage or destroy any animals, fishs, plants, trees, shrubs, flowers, shells insects or rocks.
  3. Build camp fires in designated areas only and make sure that all camp fires are completely out before you depart. Please take care not discarded lit cigarettes.
  4. Please report all forest fires to the nearest forest or police officer. Check with the park staff to determine any restrictions regarding camp fires.
  5. Do not disturb other park visitors.
  6. Abide by all notices in the park.

Emergency services are very limited in the area. If visitors are injured or get sick in the remote reachs of the park, their evacuation will be slow and uncomfortable. Visitors are encouraged to bring first aid kits and avoid any unnecessary risks while hiking in the remote areas of the park. Hunters are active in the park so risk of accidental injury from firearms is a factor while trekking in the forest. During the cold season, warm clothes are required as are rain gear during the rainy season. During the hot season, water should be carried as some of the streams are seasonal and visitors may find themselves at a camp without water.

How to reach the park

Easy access is a major asset to Khun Chae Nation Park as it is located adjacent to the main highway connecting Chiangmai with Chiangrai, take highway 118, 56 kilometers northeast of Chiangmai. Transportation to the park is available by bus and songtao from Chiangmai and Chiangrai both ordinary and air conditioned busses are avilable at the Arcade Bus Station. The yellow Chiangmai-Wiang Pa Pao songtao can be found on Tai Wong road, which will stop on the road near the park headquarters. From Chiangrai, the park headquarters office is located 129 kilometers southwest from Chiangrai and is accessible by bus as well as songtao. Rental vehicles are available in Chiangmai and Chiangrai.

Accommodation and visito

Services: Khun Chae Nation Park has two large guest houses, one with a capacity of 15, the other with a capacity of 20. Both guest houses are new, spacious, have two bathrooms with western toilets, and large observation decks with beautiful views of the area near park headquarters. Though there are no set prices, guests are encouraged to donate an appropriate amount to help pay for the cleaning and any food that is purchased or prepared by park staff. There is limited accommodation at three substations in the park. Additional information and reservations can be obtained by contacting:

  • Khun Chae National Park
    Mae Chae Dee Mai
    Wiang Pa Pao District
    Chiangrai 57260
  • National Park Division
    Interpretation Subdivision
    Natural Resources Office
    Jatuchauk, Bangkok 10900

Park personnel are avilable to transport visitors to and from the trial heads and to escort most trekkers along these mountain trails. The best time to travel on these trails is from the end of the rainy saeson to the dry season, November through March. Visitors are not advised to trek unaccompanied for health and safety reasons. There are restrooms, a covered meeting shelter and showers at the park headquarters.

Further resources:

Wikipedia

TourismThailand Official Site

Lonely Planet

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