Finally, we got to Huai Nam Dang. I have passed this park on my way to Pai and Mae Hong Son on the 1095 road for so many years of travel. But then again, it was never on that particular tour itinerary.
Leaving Hang Dong/Chiang Mai at 10.30 and bunkering up on snacks and food. Then navigating the winding 1095 road and making a stop at 32 Cafe for lunch and coffee we got to the national park around 14.30. You enter Mae Hong Son province just before the Huai Nam Dang National Park.
This place is definitely more famous as a cold season destination in December or January but coming in October means that you can avoid the crowds. We sat camp at zone 4 which has the best views of the 2175 meters high Doi Luang Chiang Dao mountain. There was only one tent set up on this camping ground before us. And one more person with a small tent arrived a bit later. Close to the visitors centre, some older Thais were setting up camp under the sala/pavilion. After all, it is still rainy season and they wanted extra shelter in case of rain. It stormed quite heavily here just before our arrival. There were many leaves and some branches on the road.
At the entrance of the park, they did a temperature check on me and the charge for the family and car to get in was 360 baht. As a foreigner, 300 baht of that cost came from me. Additionally, we had to scan the Mor Chana app and show proof of vaccination. My Swedish /EU vaccination proof worked fine.
The road from the 1st checkpoint to the camping site is narrow but paved. So in good condition. Possible to do with a Toyota Vios. Just before arriving at the camping area, there is a sign where to turn to the viewpoint also. This is a viewpoint famous for guess what? Sea of clouds of course. This sensation occurs with some luck in the morning. If you have read my post about Phu Chi Fa you will understand the love that Thai people have of the cloud oceans gently touching the mountain peaks.
The facilities are great. We paid 60 baht to set up two tents. There are tents for rent as well as sleeping bags and pillows. Even cooking utensils could be rented. The toilets and showers just by the visitors centre are the best, but every zone has their toilets. We set camp close to toilets and a sink. Brushing the teeth was extremely convenient. The only minor discomfort were leeches waiting for a host in that particular bathroom. Both of our kids got one leech each. But we managed to get them off before they could start their bloodsucking mission.
Anyway, they are not dangerous. If you leave them to finish their meal they will cover up the wound and move on. However, most people prefer not to wait that long.
If you do not want to camp, there are a few cottages with a kind of dorm setting available.
We drove directly here without any pre-booking. Initially, we tried calling but after finally getting in touch we were referred to the online booking system of the National Parks that at this time of the year felt like overkill.
At our time of visit, we had to bring or cook our food. No restaurant was open. The closest place to get some food if you didn’t bring any is at the security checkpoint 1-2 kilometres further on the way to Pai. A lady there sells Thai Luuk chin meatballs and sticky rice as well as some other light dishes and snacks. The good news for me and the kids is there is a huge telecom mast in the camping ground so the 4G on the mountain is seamless!!
The night wasn’t really cold at this time of the year. A light rain cooled the night a bit though. In the morning it was a bit chilly but mainly very foggy. Unfortunately not any smashing sea of clouds but rather a sea of fog. My daughter and son enjoyed the fog though. Silhouettes of trees and a dreamlike atmosphere. Pretending walking “Into the Woods”. I had a close call with a low flying bat looking for its way home in the early hours. It felt like it couldn’t have been that much of a distance between my head and the flapping “Batman”. They can save energy by flying low.
We got a few leeches as a company into the car but managed to get rid of them before they started any feast on us. On lower altitudes when we drove down we got some indication of the “sea of clouds” as well.
If you go here during the cold season there will probably not be any leeches. But the elevation of the park is up to 2000 metres so do prepare for a much colder experience.
The next stop for us would be Mae Hong Son and The Fern resort.