Doi Suthep - Pui National Park

     A large green lung breathing its jungle air into the city of Chiang Mai, Doi Suthep - Pui National Park is a mere fifteen minute drive from the city centre.

     This steeply mountainous park looms over the city of Chiang Mai to the west. Doi Pui at 1658 meters is the tallest peak in the park and there the weather is cool all year round. The two outstanding buildings in the area are Phuping Palace, where the Royal Family is accustomed to reside for some weeks in the cool season, and Phra That Doi Suthep, the most revered temple in the north. But it is the glory of nature and the enormous variety of life that makes the park so very special.

     There are remarkably complete records on the flora and fauna of the park as it has been studied in detail for many decades. The park covers an area of 262 square km. It is home to 2,000 species of plant including 253 types of orchid (seven of which are only found here), 320 different kinds of bird, 500 of butterfly and 300 of moth have been spotted.

     Towards the top of the park the forest teems with fungi of all types - an indication of the richness of the eco-system. Here the predominant tree is the Chinese pine although there are many other ancient kinds.

     At the bottom of the mountain, where the road starts to climb, are situated Chiang Mai Zoo, the University Arboretum, the Khru Ba Srivichai Memorial and the small Huai Kaew waterfall, which is a very popular picnic place. As you climb, the view back over the city becomes increasingly spectacular. There are lovely walks in the park leading to unexpected hilltribe villages, crashing waterfalls and the occasional ancient ruin. Few cities in the world have such a beautiful and relatively unspoilt natural treasure on their very doorstep. The park is safe for hikers although to camp out at night, permission needs to be granted by park authorities. Tours can also be arranged on a daily basis.