Discovering the Splendors of Mae Tho National Park
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Nestled in the lush landscapes of Northern Thailand, Mae Tho National Park in Chiang Mai is a breathtaking destination for nature enthusiasts and adventurers alike. With its rich biodiversity, stunning viewpoints, and tranquil waterfalls, this park offers a perfect escape into nature’s embrace.
Mae Tho National Park, a natural treasure in the heart of Chiang Mai province, Thailand, is an epitome of natural beauty and serenity. Covering an area of approximately 990 square kilometers, the park is a part of the Mae Lai and Mae Chaem Forest Reserves. Its geographical positioning between the latitudes of 18°07′ to 18°29′ North and longitudes of 98°8.5′ to 98°24′ East, makes it a unique habitat for diverse flora and fauna. The park headquarters, located in the Doi Mae Tho area, serves as the gateway to this magnificent landscape.This article explores the geographical wonders, climate, and captivating attractions of Mae Tho National Park, making it a must-visit attraction in Chiang Mai.
Mae Tho National Park is characterized by its rugged, mountainous terrain, forming a natural continuum with the famous Doi Inthanon mountain range. The altitudes vary dramatically from 400 to 1,699 meters above sea level, with the highest peak being Doi Kiw Lom located near Ban Pang Hin Fon. The park’s main office sits at an elevation of approximately 1,200 meters, offering visitors breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The park is demarcated by natural boundaries, with Mae Chaem to the north, Highway 108 to the south, Ob Luang National Park to the east, and Mae Sariang and Mae La Noi districts to the west.
Geography, Flora, and Fauna:
Mae Tho National Park’s terrain is predominantly steep and complex, with a north-to-south orientation similar to the Doi Inthanon range. The diverse ecosystem includes moist evergreen forests, mixed deciduous forests, and pine forests. Significant tree species include teak, bamboo, and various indigenous trees. The park is a sanctuary for wildlife, hosting species like barking deer, wild boars, gibbons, and a plethora of bird species, making it a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts.
Climate and Best Time to Visit:
The park experiences three distinct seasons: a wet season from May to September, with temperatures ranging between 10°C and 25°C; a cool season from October to February, offering the most pleasant weather with temperatures between 4°C and 20°C; and a hot season from March to April, with temperatures climbing up to 30°C. The best time to visit is during the cool season, especially between October and February, when the weather is ideal for exploring the park’s natural beauty.
Attractions of Mae Tho National Park:
Mae Tho View Point: This iconic viewpoint offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the surrounding landscape. Open for tourism from October to February, it is known for its breathtaking savannah grasslands and is a part of the local Hmong community’s agricultural area. Visitors are advised to book in advance due to limited access and to use a 4-wheel drive vehicle for the challenging terrain.
Mae Aep Waterfall: Located approximately 6 kilometers from the park office and a further 3 kilometers off the main path, this stunning waterfall is a serene retreat. A short hike leads to this picturesque spot, known for its 10-12 meter wide cascade, offering a refreshing respite in the heart of the park.
Mae Toom Cave: This cave features unique stalactite and stalagmite formations resembling ancient pillars and divine figures, alongside a large population of bats. Its extraordinary beauty and geological formations make it a must-visit for cave enthusiasts.
The entry fee for Maetho National Park is 50 Baht for adults and 20 Baht for children for Thai nationals. For foreign visitors, the prices are 300 Baht for adults and 100 Baht for children.
How to Get There:
By Car:From Chiang Mai city, follow Highway 108 towards Hod district for about 89 kilometers. Continue on Highway 108 towards Mae Sariang, passing through Ob Luang National Park for another 54 kilometers to Ban Kong Loi. From there, take Provincial Highway 1270 for about 16 kilometers to reach the park entrance.
By Tour Agency: Various tour agencies in Chiang Mai offer private tours to Mae Tho National Park. These tours typically include a car rental with a driver and knowledgeable guide, allowing visitors to customize their itinerary and explore at their own pace.