Chiang Mai Parks & Waterfalls
For nature lovers, Chiang Mai is a perfect holiday destination. There are many moutains, rivers, lakes and waterfalls to visit. Chiang Mai Province itself contains some thirteen national parks, while the surrounding provinces of Chiang Rai, Lamphun and Mae Hong Son are home to a further nine. Many of these are within a few hours drive from Chiang Mai so its not hard to escape from the bustle of the city to explore the great outdoors.
Doi Inthanon National Park
One of Thailand’s most famous national parks, this park is home to Doi Inthanon, which at 2,565 metres above sea-level is the highest peak in Thailand. The mountain peaks are often shrouded in mist as the area experiences cool weather and high humidity throughout the year. In winter temperatures at the summit often reach 0°C, and even in the summer it is usually very cool. It is possible to drive all the way up to the summit along a windy 47km route. On the way, you will pass terraced rice paddies belonging to Karen and Hmong hill tribes.
The park covers an area of 1,005 square kilometers and is home to a wide variety of wildlife containing the largest number of bird species of any site in Thailand. Animals that are found here include gibbons, tigers, deer, and wild boar, but unfortunately their numbers decrease each year due to hunting and destruction of their habitat from encroachment.
The park contains many waterfalls of which Mae Ya, Mae Klang, Wachirathan and Siriphum are the most famous. Mae Ya is one of Thailand’s most beautiful waterfalls, and at 260 metres it is the highest. Out of these, Mae Klang is the most accessible and is a popular picnic spot. A short drive from Mae Klang waterfall you will find Borichinda Cave, which contains many beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, as well as a small stream. Other famous landmarks include the Twin Royal Pagodas, built to commemorate the 60th birthday anniversaries of Their Majesties The King and Queen.
Doi Suthep-Pui National Park
Just 12 kilometers outside Chiang Mai, this national park is the site of Wat Prathart Doi Suthep, one of Thailand’s most revered temples which sits atop Doi Suthep mountain overlooking the city. The three main peaks are Doi Suthep, Doi Buakha and Doi Pui of which Doi Pui is the highest, rising to 1,685 meters above sea-level.
The park is home to one of Chiang Mai’s most popular waterfalls, Huay Kaew, as it is only a 10 minute drive from the city. Huay Kaew is actually comprised of two separate waterfalls, Pha Ngerb and Wang Bua Baan. One hoildays and weekeneds it can get quite busy here as its a favourite picnic spot for locals.
Ob Luang National Park
Lying southwest of Chiang Mai, this scenic park takes its name from Ob Luang Gorge, a steep narrow canyon formed by the Mae Chaem River. The torrent of water rushing over the boulders at the base of the gorge is quite a spectacular site. The park covers an area of 553 square kilometers of steep forested granite hills, with a highest peak of 1,656 meters above sea-level.