Camping In Pha Daeng National Park – Chiang Dao

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by ZCM, Feb 16, 2020.

  1. ZCM

    ZCM Ol'Timer

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    #1 ZCM, Feb 16, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2020
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    Just a quick trip report on the beautiful, quiet and simple Pha Daeng National Park. This national park is often overlooked, and so for that reason it makes for a fantastic quiet place to visit (or for staying over, as I did). If based in Chiang Mai, this makes Pha Daeng a short quick and easy ride (a mere 100 km’s away, if riding there direct).

    (Google Map Link)
    Untitled-5-1.jpgOne important thing to note about Pha Daeng national park, is that it has two attractions with separate entrances. There is the main national park (which contains Sri Sangwan “sticky” Waterfall ), which also has accommodation available as well as a camping ground. Then there is another entrance 4.5 km from the main headquarters, leading to Pong Arng Hot Spring (where I chose to camp for the night). Both attractions are included in the ticket price. Untitled-3-1.

    *Note* Pha Daeng National Park, as with most all National Parks here, has dual pricing in place. So, foreigners will pay more in general, unless you can provide evidence that you are not a tourist. Usually this means a work permit or pink ID card. However, some places will grant Thai prices if you can speak Thai and have some form of ID, such as a Thai driving license. I was given the Thai rate at this park when I spoke only Thai and showed my Thai Motorcycle License.

    PRICES (which may change in future):
    Adult: 50 baht Thai / 100 baht Foreigner.
    Child: 20 baht Thai / 50 baht Foreigner
    Parking: 20 baht


    I paid 70 baht in total. I was permitted to camp for free at the hot springs (I have my own camping gear), but when I made enquiries at the main headquarters I was informed that it would be 30 baht to camp at the waterfall. In both areas you must provide your own camping gear. They do not supply any.

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    Thursday 13th February 2020
    I made a last minute decision to ride to Pha Daeng. I had been meaning to visit for some time, so I quickly loaded up my pre-packed camp gear and headed north. It was around 2pm when I set off and I rode directly to Pong Arng Hot Spring.

    I made just one small stop at this interesting looking temple, with Naga statue in progress. Wat Klang Thung วัดกลางทุ่ง

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    I arrived at Pong Arng Hot Springs at around 4pm, paid the entry fee, parked up and began to unload my camp gear. The parking area is a small walk away from the campground, so you need to be able to carry your gear to the camp spot. Additionally the hot springs (and the entire national park) has no restaurant or store to buy anything from, so come prepared or buy from a local store. There is a small village area and grocery store just up from the hot springs, where you can buy drinks, snacks, packaged bakery and packets of noodles etc. Nothing of real significance, but a good place if you end up needing some supplies. I bought a few bottles of water and some snacks from the lady owner there.

    Pong Arng Hot Spring

    Initially I planned to also set up my hammock, as I’m aiming to try pack light one day if I do more camp-out trips. However, the trees in this area really weren’t great for strapping a hammock on to. If I needed to I would have found a solution one way or another, but in the end I decided to just set up my tent instead.
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    The facilities at the Hot Spring are basic, but tidy and clean. Toilet and shower facilities are available, but keep in mind that the showers are cold water only. So can be a bit of an endurance test late and night and in the early morning! Untitled-2dr.

    There are also cold shower facilities right next to hot spring to shower off after bathing.
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    As the night fell I tried out some small cheap battery-operated fairy lights that I had bought. Great buy! They gave the perfect warm glow for camping out.
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    Later on, when I went to bathe and enjoy the hot springs, a local lady was using one of the pools. We ended up chatting for a while about life, which was lovely, although in truth I wanted to enjoy the pools alone. She didn’t stay too long though, and I was able to indulge in the pool by myself.



    Back in my tent I relaxed early, enjoying the quiet. On a few occasions some locals came to bathe quietly in the pool, but they didn’t stay long. I didn’t realise until later on that although the hot spring officially closes at 6pm, the access is then free after this time. So for a while people came to bathe for a short period of time.

    In the morning, when the sun began to rise, the steam from the hotspring made the area look really amazing. Untitled-2-1r.

    Whilst bathing in the hot spring, I was mesmerized by how the steam looked as though it were moving in slow motion.

    I half expected a water nymph to come out of the water, haha!..which is what gave me the idea to make a bit of an indulgent short video clip. Just wanted to try capture the magic of the natural light at the right time. Can’t go wrong in perfect light like this. Nothing filtered. Purely just the beauty of nature!



    spent a really lazy morning at the hot springs, just enjoying the quiet calm atmosphere and warm sunlight. Originally I planned to ride an anti-clockwise loop around Wiang Haeng then back to Chiang Mai (I previously rode this loop when the road was unfinished, and again when almost complete), but after soaking in the warm hot spring water and feeling so relaxed, I decided to just chill out. I stayed in the hot spring area until the early afternoon, then packed up and headed to Sri Sangwan Waterfall.

    Sri Sangwan WaterfallUntitled-2-3.jpg
    At the national park ticket office I produced my ticket from the day before. The lady pointed out that my ticket was for the 13th and not the 14th, and I was prepared to pay again (especially as not a high price). However, when I mentioned that I didn’t get a chance to see the waterfall yesterday due to camping out at the park the night before, she kindly said I can just go in.
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    The park is really pretty. Not huge but pretty. There is a large spacious parking area, and a national park information centre. One road continues up into the accommodation area and another route leads to the waterfall.

    I took the waterfall route and within moments could hear the gushing of water (which was wonderful, considering how dry everywhere currently is!).



    he waterfall itself isn’t large, but it looks very pretty with its multiple tiers. Additionally what makes the waterfall special is the mineral deposits on the rock, which means you can easily walk up the waterfall without slipping.

    Here is my video of the popular “sticky waterfall” in Chiang Mai (Bua Thong Falls) that I visited not so long ago with my riding buddy Opal (trip report for that ride HERE.) This video gives details on what makes the waterfall sticky/grippy.



    The nice thing about Sri Sangwan Waterfall (unlike Bua Tong) though, is how quiet it is.

    After enjoying the waterfall and the flora around the area I quickly popped into the visitor information centre and enquired about the accommodation prices.

    The cheapest cabin starts from 600 baht (1 room, 2 person cabin) and rises up from there. Typical price range for all the national park cabins really. Camping is 30 baht, but only with your own camping gear (none is provided)

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    After leaving Pha Daeng national park I decided to head to the Chiang Dao Nest 2, and enjoy a great lunch there. My ride so far had been a really low budget and seeing as it was also Valentine’s Day I figured a great lunch would be just perfect. ^^

    Something so wonderful about seeing that distinctive Chiang Dao mountain shape!
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    With the backdrop being so nice, I decided to try my hand at testing out being in front of the camera, in order to give a shout out to two products I was sent to test, and have been using. This was the tragic result…



    Oh dear.. >.< (As an aside, for details on the Inuteq Cooling Vest go HERE and for details on the Pamabo Boots go HERE)

    Oh dear.. >.< (As an aside, for details on the Inuteq Cooling Vest go HERE and for details on the Pamabo Boots go HERE)

    At the Nest 2 I ordered a really great lunch!

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    After lunch I had a small ride around.

    Untitled-1qr.

    After which I fuelled up ready to head back to Chiang Mai.

    Had a funny small world moment though, after fueling up and heading to the red lights at the intersection in Chiang Dao. For there was Duncan from TBB Tours! He was leading a tour group back to Chiang Mai. Funny when moments like that happen!
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    When I hit the depressing congested traffic of Chiang Mai around Mae Rim, I took a right turn onto the R1096 then a left onto the army road to avoid some of the congestion, which is when I spotted this stunning azure blue lagoon a little down from a dirt track. This area is normally covered with huge trees, which have been recently cut down. So this lagoon was hidden in there for some time, but I just never noticed before! Untitled-2q. After the lagoon I headed straight home.

    All in all this was a really nice short and relaxing ride, although funnily enough it did really wear me out. I spent pretty much all of January being unwell from a bad flu virus and its unreal how weak I still seem to be. This really was as much as I could happily manage on a ride at this time, but have no regrets about the choices I made. Pha Daeng is certainly well worth a visit. I had a lovely time!

    Hope you enjoyed this trip report.
     

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  2. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

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    Zoey, you are the water nymph in the steaming waters....
    Looks like a great private spot, I must get over there sometime. Camping at hot springs in the cool season is wonderful. Over in Pong Duet off the Pai road, is a fave spot of mine, where you can lie in a warm stream on the edge of the jungle.
    Camping is great and can be reasonable comfortable with modern gear.
    One really handy piece of kit I bought on Ebay is a Sawyer Mini water filter. I use it often to refill water bottles at National Park bathrooms. This filter takes out 99.999% of nasties and as you need a lot of water when camping, this saves carrying heavy bulky water bottles on your bike.
     
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  3. ZCM

    ZCM Ol'Timer

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    Haha, yes..water nymph of hot water though. The result of trying to look serene in cold springs would have been a whole lot different for sure

    I enjoy being outdoors, but lugging the camp gear isn't so much fun though. My stuff isn't high tech, so it's bulky. Still wonderful once set up though.

    The water bottle filter sounds great. I will need to look that up. Thanks. Would certainly make life easier at times where getting clean drinkable water isn't easily available. :)
     
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  4. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

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  5. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Moderator

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    Great report ZCM.
    So many great experience's to do be had only an hour or two from Chiang Mai.

    Moto-Rex
     
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