NAN PROVINCE. Doi Phu Kha National Park is a great
destination for those wanting to combine laid-back relaxation
with moderate exploration of nature. Visitors will notice that the
landscape has been groomed and altered to receive guests. That
said, it does not mean they will not get a high dose of nature within
Beginning with the journey up the mountain from Pua district,
visitors will see that large patches of forest on the slope of the hills
have been turned into fruit orchards, namely for lychee. The sight
may not be the best introduction, but on arrival in the Park area, it is
a relief to find that most of its forest remains intact.
Take time to view the exhibition in the Visitor Centre. Here, guests
will learn that besides the star attraction, Chomphu Phu Kha
flowers, there is also a chance to see a living fossil, Caryota gigas.
Also known as Hahn ex Hodel, or Tao Rang Yak in Thai, this giant
palm has a height of 40 m and is endemic to the area. The Park also
offers the possibility of spotting a myriad of wild animals, ranging from
rare birds (the most remarkable one being Sitta formosa) deer, dan
gibbons to bears, wild elephants, or even tigers.
Something for Everyone
For those content with lovely strolls through the woods, there are two nature trails near the Park headquarters to enjoy. The small trail is 2 km long; the longer one is 4 km, both winding through a forest of Kesiya, or three-needled, pine, whose fallen needles provide a soft brown carpet over the paths as they lead to Chomphu Phu Kha and Tao Rang Yak groves. The trails are sufficiently well-defined, but the Park recommends visitors be accompanied by a ranger. Trekking should be avoided during the rainy season, as leeches are quite brutal.
Doi Phu Kha offers other activities the whole year round. From August
to December, the river Nam Wa, with its 20 rapids, provides good
rafting (contact the Visitor Centre to arrange a trip). Bird and butterfly
lovers should visit between November and June. During February and
March, the forest will be tinted with the pink blossoms of Chomphu
Phu Kha. There are also a number of caves and waterfalls that can be
explored from October to May.
For more sedentary travellers, the Park provides comfortable and
aesthetically pleasing accommodation. The smallest options are
made from old carts and bamboo, with thatched roofs. Bigger
bungalows perch on a small hill to enjoy a panoramic view of
the mountain range. Alternatively, a tent can be pitched in the
campground to enjoy stargazing. To wrap up the day, the Park also
provides a pavilion to observe the sunset over the hill-lined horizon.