While I spent quite a few years living in Thailand, I only managed a few forays into the North of the country. Two wilderness areas that I visited were Doi Inthanon and Huai Nam Dang National Parks.
Doi Inthanon National Park
I only had the chance to visit Doi Inthanon National Park on a day trip from Chiang Mai in December 2005. The reason I wanted to visit the park was to see the very uncharacteristic for Thailand cloud forest at the top of the mountain.
The peak of Doi Inthanon mountain represents the end of the Himalayan mountain range that extends from the remote areas of India and Nepal. The cloud forest that sits on the top of the mountain is the highest forest in Thailand and as such enjoys a very moist climate. This forest is like a natural reservoir that stores seeping underground water.
The scenery in the forest was as stunning as I imagined it would be. The landscape was dominated by mist-shrouded tree trunks entwined with vines of different species of epiphytes such as wild orchid and covered with thick clusters of moss, lichen and ferns.
Unfortunately, the constraints of an organized tour did not leave enough time for wildlife watching. All I managed to spot was a pair of Scarlet Minivets and a Forest crested lizard.
Huai Nam Dang and Pai (Dec 2006)
While I didn’t make it to Huai Nam Dang National Park itself I spent a few days exploring around the town of Pai. Pai is an idyllic little town surrounded by the rugged mountains that run along the Thai-Burmese border.
Huai Nam Dang and the surrounding area are famous for the sea of mist that covers the peaks of the mountains during the early hours of the day. The mist is the result of the distillation of fine particles of water vapor in the air.
During the daytime, the soil absorbs heat from the sun before gradually cooling down at night. When air of higher temperature flows past the area it is cooled, distilled, and then turns into mist. Normally mist is formed at night, or on a cold morning when the sky is clear and the wind is mild.
Apart from the mist, the area has some impressive landscapes, including a waterfall made famous by a Thai cult movie รักจัง (Rak Jang).