Discover Thailand’s new national parks

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THE warm and breezy Southeast Asian paradise destination of Thailand is famed for being diverse and tourist-friendly.

It is no wonder why it is one of the most visited countries in the world and is popularly known as the “Land of Smiles”.

Often, travelers would find themselves spoilt for choice because Thailand has so much to offer.

And it is not just limited to vibrant markets bursting at seams with huge arrays of goods or bustling cities filled with activities from dawn until dusk, or highlands which offer rolling mountains and lush greenery, and pristine white sand beaches with crystal clear waters teeming with marine life in a kaleidoscope of colors below.

Nature-lovers, in particular, will be pleased to know that the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has announced that Thailand has added five new national parks around the country during 2016 to 2019 since the start of the reign of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun (King Rama X).

This is also in accordance with Thailand’s “20-Year National Strategic Plan”, which targets increasing the forest area to 55 percent of the entire country by 2037.

“Part of the work to increase the forest area as well as forestry conservation is by the national park system under three key mandates, which are environmental conservation, research, and recreational development,” the authority quoted TAT Governor Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn as saying.

There are currently 133 national parks in Thailand with Khao Yai National park being the country’s first (established 1962) and Tham Sa Koen National Park in Nan being the last designated during the reign of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

During the reign of King Rama X (2016 to present), Thailand added five new national parks:

Namtok Chet Sao Noi National Park

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Added December 2016 as Thailand’s 129th national park, Namtok Chet Sao Noi National Park has a scenic waterfall with an interesting past. The name of the waterfall comes from a story about the people in the area.

Long ago, seven women drowned together in the waterfall. Another story tells that it comes from a village named Ban Sao Noi and later renamed to Chet Sao Noi.

The park covers a total area of 40.89 square kilometers covering Muak Lek and Wang Muang districts in Saraburi province and Pak Chong district in Nakhon Ratchasima province.

Khun Sathan National Park

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Added March 25, 2017, as Thailand’s 130th national park, Khun Sathan National Park covers an area of 404.52 square kilometers in the districts of Na Noi and Na Muen of Nan province.

The mountain ridge of Doi Phrae Mueang separates the boundaries between Phrae and Nan provinces while Doi Ku Sathan is 1,630 meters above mean sea level.

Mae Takhrai National Park

Source: Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation

Added December 16, 2017, as Thailand’s 131st national park, Mae Takhrai National Park covers an area of 356.66 square kilometers in San Kamphaeng, Doi Saket and Mae On districts of Chiang Mai province along with Ban Thi and Mueang districts of Lamphun.

The park is origin to the main tributaries of the Ping River and offers scenic views; such as waterfalls, cliffs, and hot springs.

Than Sadet-Ko Phangan National Park

Source: Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation

Added November 22, 2018, as Thailand’s 132nd national park, Than Sadet-Ko Phangan National Park is situated on Ko Phangan, an island 100 kilometers away from Surat Thani’s coast and occupies a total area of 44.99 square kilometers.

The park has maintained the wilderness of the island on its rugged and steep mountain range. Khao Ra is the highest peak at an elevation of 627 meters.

Doi Chong National Park

Source: Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation

Added April 2019, as Thailand’s 133rd national park, Doi Chong National Park covers an area of 346.18 square kilometers in Sop Prap, Thoen and Mae Phrik districts of Lampang province and Li and Thung Hua Chang districts of Lamphun province.

The park offers mountainous areas and a range of deciduous forests. The highest point, Doi Jong is 1,379 meters above mean sea level.

During 2016 to 2019, Thailand added a total of 331,952 rai (53,120 hectares) additional forest area to its national park system. This brings the total forested area in Thailand to over 102,488 million rai, representing 31.68% of all area nationwide. It also signals the progress made in adding more protected forest area under the jurisdiction of Thailand’s fast-growing national park system.

Another 22 national parks are in the process of being established. These include 11 land national parks and 11 marine national parks, totaling 44 million rai or 13 percent of all area nationwide.