About Phu Suan Sai
Formerly known as Na Haeo National Park, Phu Suan Sai National Park is a very small national park in Loei Province, at the border of Laos in central-north Thailand. The park covers 117 km² with highest point at 1,408 meters asl. The nearest cities are Phitsanulok (~100 km), Loei (~125 km) and Uttaradit (~140 km).
The forest in the park is part of a continuous forest complex that extends further north in Thailand and into Laos. The habitat consists mainly of bamboo and evergreen forests; sadly some areas around 2 villages north of the park have been cleared for agricultural needs. Despite being a small park, some impressive mammal species such as gaurs and hog badgers are found in the park. Tigers have been camera trapped in the past but unlikely that they are still roaming in the park.
Phu Suan Sai is a great place for birding and home to some rare birds. There are currently around 240 bird species reposted from the park. Most notable species are; short-tailed parrotbills and blue-naped pittas, currently only found in Phu Suan Sai in Thailand. Other rare birds found in the park are; rufous-throated fulvettas, dark-sided thrushes, rufous-gorgeted flycatchers, slaty-blue flycatchers, white-capped water redstarts, plumbeous water redstarts, vivid niltavass, striated yuhinas, rusty-naped pittas, bar-backed partridges, pin-tailed green pigeons and rufous-throated partridges.
The numbers are probably much higher, but, currently there are around 20 reptile species recorded from Phu Suan Sai National Park, most notable; Himalayan mountain pit vipers (Ovophis monticola), Gumprecht's pit vipers (Trimeresurus gumprechti), large-eyed pit vipers (Trimeresurus macrops), banded kraits (Bungarus fasciatus), white-lipped pit vipers (Trimeresurus albolabris), twin slug snake (Pareas geminatus), common collared snake (Sibynophis collaris) and big-headed turtles (Platysternon megacephalum).
There are no public transportation options to get to the park. Visitors are recommended to arrange private transportation. Motorbikes are allowed inside the park.
If you manage to get to Dan Sai District bus station, the park can arrange transportation to the park for 1,000 Baht (one way). In case, use the phone number further below (a Thai speaking person needs to help with a call).
The park has a few official trails of which the Birdwatching Trail can be walked freely without a guide/ranger. There are many smaller side trails into the forest along the main road through the park, these trails are often used by poachers or villagers.
Entrance fees & opening times
The park entrance fees are 100 Baht for foreigners (50 Baht for children), 20 Baht for Thai citizens (10 Baht for children). Cars charged 30 Baht. Entrance fees are valid for 7 days if stayed inside the park.
Phu Suan Sai National Park premises are open 8 am to 4:30 pm every day but are closed from 1st July until 30th September every year. It is possible to enter the park any time of the day, no limitation.
Stay & eat
There are several accommodation options for rent at the visitor center area and Phu Hua Hom Ranger Station;
Zone HQ area
- 300 Baht/night for 2 people bamboo option with shared toilets
- 1,200 Baht/night for 6 people, 3 bedrooms and 2 toilets
- 1,500 Baht/night for 7 people, living room, TV, 2 bedrooms and 2 toilets
- 3,000 Baht/night for 15 people, big living room, 4 bedrooms and 2 toilets
Phu Hau Hom Ranger Station
- 500 Baht/night for 2-3 people, 1 bedroom and a toilet
- 1,000 Baht/night. for 4 people, 2 bedrooms and a toilet
- 1,200 Baht/night for 6 people, 3 bedrooms and 2 toilets
There are a few designated camping grounds next to the visitor center, one at Phu Hau Hom Substation and one at Phu Khum Mountain.
There are tents available for rent from the visitor center, very cheap compared to the other national parks across the country. Tents for 2 pax cost 150 Baht per night and 3 pax for 225 Baht per night. It costs another 60 Baht per person for a sleeping set including a matt, a pillow, a blanket and a sleeping bag. Own tents will be charged with 30 Baht per night.
The camping grounds at the visitor center area and Phu Hau Hom Substation have hot showers, which is very unique for a national park in Thailand. Hot showers are normally found in the park accommodations in some national parks. Being at around 900 meters asl, it is always very chilly from early evening onward and hot showers are a big plus for such a small park.
The only restaurant found in the park is at the main visitor center area.
You are recommended to ask a Thai speaking person to call on your behalf.
- 094 239 2498 - Visitor Center
The attractions of Phu Suan Sai
Visitor Center area
The visitor center of the park is just a couple of hundred meters from the headquarters after the main checkpoint into the park. The visitor center area has a small canteen, a restaurant and many smaller campgrounds on either side of the road and between buildings. The restaurant is open 8 am until 4:30 pm every day all year round.
About a 1.3 km long trail that starts from the visitor center area and ends not too far from the first bridge further north. Hikers can walk another 1.2 km on the main road to get back to the visitor center area.
Short-tailed parrotbills, blue-naped pittas and few other interesting birds have all been spotted along this trail.
Located around 1.5 km north of the visitor center right before the first bridge, a very short 100 meters trail from the main road leads to this bird hide. The hide is right on the bank of a small stream, with a good view over upstream and downstream as the stream bends horseshoe shaped around the hide. The trail-head is found between the end of the birders trail and the nearest bridge. The hide is surrounded with a net, there are several plastic chairs inside to use.
Phu Hau Hom Substation & Campsite
Phu Hau Hom is a substation on the east side of the park at an elevation of around 920 meters asl. The substation has a smaller campsite but no restaurants. There are no tents available for rent at this substation but tents can't be brought from the main visitor center to set up here.
There is an approximately 5 km long trail from this substation to Phu Khum Khao Campsite, ranger guidance needed to walk this trail.
Phu Khum Khao Mountain Trail & Campsite
Phu Khum Mountain is located northeast of the visitor center area, there is a campsite near the summit. The summit and the campsite are at 1,408 meters asl, accessible by a 5 km long trail from the headquarters. It is the highest camping ground in Central-North Thailand.
A ranger must accompany visitors walking the trail or stay overnight at the campsite. A ranger can be arranged at the visitor center next to the headquarters, if necessary local carriers can be arranged to carry tents/bags.
The first kilometer of this trail is very steep up, hard to walk followed by a 4 km moderate to easy hike along a mountain ridge until reaching the campsite. For those who don't want to stay at the campsite overnight, it is possible to continue 3 more kilometers, mostly steep down and end at a nearby village. At the trail end, another ranger will be waiting in a car, taking hikers back to the visitor center area.
There are two viewpoints used as resting spots before the campsite. The campsite also has a nice viewpoint facing other mountains in the park and in Laos.
An averagely fit hiker could reach the campsite in less than 4 hours, or walk the entire 8 km trail in more or less 5 to 5.5 hours.
It costs 500 Baht to walk an 8 km trail during a day trip with a ranger (no overnight stay), and another 400 Baht for a second ranger to pick up from the end of trail to return to the headquarters, total; 900 Baht.The visitors pay for a few beverages or water for the ranger as well. The visitors are recommended to pay a tip to the rangers as we are not sure if the paid fees are actually paid to the rangers.
Tat Huang Waterfall
A waterfall at the border of Laos where the stream is running along the border. The waterfall is 8 km from Phu Hau Hom Substation and 14.5 km from the park headquarters.
The waterfall has water all year round. The water flowing down from the fall is often muddy, not ideal for swimming in.
It is forbidden to cross the stream to the Laotian side.