If you’re craving nature and outdoor activities but have no idea where to go, our recommendation today can inspire you to start your own trip.
We’re heading to Phu Soi Dao National Park, which encompasses parts of both Uttaradit and Phitsanulok provinces.
The best time to visit the park is during the rainy season (July-October) when you can see Murdannia gigantea in full bloom, and the cooler season (November-January) when Plains blackfoot daisy, Venus slipper in all its flowering glory, and maple leaves morphing from green to red provide the eye candy. You can also trek to the summit of the mountain range that borders with Laos.
Getting there If you’re driving, this is the location: https://goo.gl/maps/9a8g1kgVDbdCvySq7
If you are using public transportation to get to the park, you can start from the following points:
- 1. The bus terminal in Nam Pat district of Uttaradit (about 1 and a half hours)
- 2. The bus terminal in Phitsanulok (about 3 hours)
- 3. Phitsanulok train station (about 3 hours)
And from these three places, you can rent a car to the park for about 800-1,000 Baht per trip. There’s no regular public transportation to the park.
To visit national parks in Thailand, you are able to book your slot via the Application QueQ as early as 15 days in advance. For Phu Soi Dao National Park, a total of 350 visitors are allowed to camp out at its pine forest site each day with 70% or 245 allocated to people booking through the application, and 30% or 105 going to walk-in visitors.
This is in addition to the number of visitors who can visit the waterfall and area around the park office, which is set at 70% or 105 people booking through the application and 30% or 45 by walk-in visitors.
After registration, you can ask the park officials for details of renting a tent, bedding and cooking gear or porter services. You can pick up all your rented items at the camp site. Make sure to use the toilet and have some food before setting off. There are no restaurants, toilet facilities or mobile phone signals in the mountains. Prepare some light snacks and enough drinking water to last the trip.
The park official will give you a ride on its E-tan modified tractor to the starting point.
Phu Soi Dao is open for visitors to start trekking daily from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The park is closed to the public to allow nature to recover and regenerate from 15 January – 30 June every year.
Park officials will check the number of visitors after 4 p.m. to ensure nobody is still on the trail.
The E-tan modified tractor will transport you to the starting point where you can also find Phu Soi Dao Waterfall, a five-level cascade with water flowing all year round. You will enjoy the surrounding forests that are very lush and moist. Rocks by the waterfall are blanketed in moss.
Phu Soi Dao Waterfall
For camping, you need to reach the pine forest site, about 6.5 kilometers away. The trekking route is a steady climb that features 5 small hills with intimidating names. Our favorite is the last one called the deathy hill!
It’s a delightful trek uphill on a natural trail through fertile forests that are home to waterfalls and wild flowers.
It takes around 4-6 hours to trek from the first to the last hill and you don’t have to be super fit. Of course, the very fit will just glide past you! Walk at your own pace and rest when you feel like having a sip of water and admiring the views. The journey is more important than the destination!
By the time you reach the last hill, you’ll probably know why it’s named the deathly hill! This stretch of trail is quite narrow and steep so we have to really focus. Some trekkers are relieved that they have finally made it only to realizing that they have to save their breath and carry on for another 500 meters! Thankfully, there’s no more climbing.
Covering some 1.6 square kilometers of flat terrain, the pine forest is a perfect camp site.
Toilet facilities are provided although you have to fetch water from a nearby creek if you want to take a bath.
You can collect your rented items or belongings carried by the porter at the park office here.
If you come during the rainy season (August-September), you will see a vast field of wild flowers such as Murdannia giganteum, Utricularia bifida and Salomonia longiciliata Kurz.
During the cool season at the end of the year, expect to see Plains blackfoot daisy, Venus slipper (Paphiopedilum villosum) and red maple leaves.
The evenings can be quite lively as campers prepare their dinners.
Phu Soi Dao National Park has all its visitors pay a deposit for garbage collection. You will get the deposit back only when returning from the trek with your trash. There’s no garbage dump site in the camping grounds.
A night at this national park is an amazing experience that contributes to the park’s popularity. Phu Soi Dao loosely translates as the mountain where you can pick the stars – and it’s literally a star-studded place!
After a trying day of trekking, nothing beats having an intimate conversation with good friends under the thousands of stars.
The electricity is available only until 8 p.m so make sure you’re ready.
During November-January, you are allowed to go to watch the sunrise at the viewpoint of the pine forest camp site. The park’s rangers are on hand to accompany visitors. This spot is off limits during the rainy season.
Within 2 kilometers of the camp site is a nature trail from which you can explore pine forests and wild flowers. One more interesting spot is the Thai-Lao border demarcation, about 1 kilometer from the camping ground.
The stone plaque demarcation between Thailand and Laos
The 7-tier Sai Thip Waterfall is only 20 minutes’ walk from the camp site on a rather steep trail downhill.
The purple queen of Phu Soi Dao, Murdannia giganteum, is very kind to people. Even if you’re not an early riser, you can still have an audience with her from 9 until noon.
Walking downhill on the way back to the national park office could take about 4 hours. You can take a shower and have some food within the park’s compound.
- Admission for foreigners 200 Baht
- Sleeping bag 30 Baht/night (excluding porter fee)
- Sleeping mattress 20 Baht/might (excluding porter fee)
- Pillow 10 Baht/night (excluding porter fee) – Porter service 30 Baht/kilo
- Trash deposit 200 Baht/group
- Be physically prepared; practicing long distance walking helps.
- Mobile phone signal is limited in the mountains.
- Bring waterproof plastic sheets to cover and put under the tent.
- Stove rental is available, so pack some charcoal or even better, an outdoor gas burner.
- Don’t forget mosquito and insect repellents and other medicines.
- Bring ingredients if you want to cook.
- Drinking water is provided or you can fetch water from a stream to boil. Bottled water is available at the park’s co-op shop if you really need it.
- A torch or lamp is necessary.
- A rain coat is a must during the rainy season trek.
- Wear comfortable hiking shoes.
Phu Soidao National Park
- : Amphoe Nam Pat, Uttaradit
- :Open daily for trekking from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Closed annually from 15 January – 30 June
- : 09 5629 9528, 09 5024 7633, 09 1024 7633