Ob Khan National Park, Close to Chiang Mai

02:44 Amy 1 Comments

Jump in the cool Mae Khan river and swim under the shade of trees and cliffs before having a picnic on the sandy shore at Ob Khan National Park, less than an hour's drive from Chiang Mai city centre.

It's hot again here in Chiang Mai. We wanted to cool off by splashing in a river, so we decided to hop on our motorbike, grab some takeaway from our favourite cheapo food cart (we call him Pad Si Ew man because we can guarantee you're not going to find better pad si ew than what he makes - that and we can't read Thai) and go on an afternoon trip to Ob Khan national park. We're so glad we did, because it's beautiful and feels like you're hundreds of miles away from the city.

Ob Khan national park is easy to get to. From the city centre, head up Suthep Road and turn south along the Canal Road for about eleven kilometres. Look out for a sign on your right for Ob Khan National park, over a little bridge. When you turn off the Canal Road, simply follow the signs for Ob Khan national park. There are some potholes so take care. You'll know when you're close because the tarmac road gives way to an orange dirt road. I was somewhat nervous about taking our 'urban runner' along the dirt road, but it made it there and back without problems with both of us riding. Try and aim for the least rocky/pot holey route like I did and I'm sure you'll be fine. Entrance is free, but you should sign your name at the little hut before the carpark.

Park your motorbike and head down the grassy slope and you'll be greeted with the sight of a big river flanked by rocks, sand and forest. Yes - sand! A BEACH in Chiang Mai! Perfect.

If you're a confident swimmer, the river is an amazing place to swim. When we were there the current was quite strong in places. I don't know what the currents are like at other times of the year. We spent most of our time splashing around in the water, and desperately clinging to rocks or each other whenever we ventured into the currents. I found a big piece of bamboo driftwood to use as an anchor. There are also several isolated places to sit on the rocks and take in nature, read your book and have a picnic. The place was pretty empty when we visited - just a few families and a group of friends.

There is a nature trail to follow. We think that we accidentally only followed a tiny part of it, because the path was overgrown after marker number five and I didn't realise it continued. Andy insists now that he did realise, but I didn't listen. I suspect he's suffering from selective memory loss. Hawhawhaw. Next time we'll explore the trail more fully, perhaps taking along a machete to clear the overgrowth as well as our trusty wild-dog-deterrent - the catapult.

If you're lucky, you can see wildlife, but we didn't this time. If you're unlucky like us, you can instead lie on the rocks and create various scenarios of 'what would you do if a tiger's head appeared over that rocky outcrop?' to pass some time. Diving into the river was our eventual choice, after we decided that we'd probably come off second best in a tiger vs. English teacher fight. You might be able to see birds, mouse deers, wild cats, civets, mongoose and more. You will definitely see hundreds of colourful butterflies and dragonflies flitting around the rocks and water. It feels like you should be in a beautiful arty film.

Apparently Ob Khan national park is massive, covering 484 square kilometres. You can camp there, too. Now I just need to convince Andy that he won't get eaten by tigers, snakes or bears while camping...

Essential Information

Map to Ob Khan national park from Chiang Mai

The toilets are clean and Western. There is a little shop, but it was closed when we checked it out.

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