About Phu Suan Sai National Park
Phitsanulok (~100 km), Loei (~125 km), Uttaradit (~140 km)
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 of mainly bamboo and evergreen forests, sadly some areas around 2 villages north of the park have been cleared for agricultural needs. Despite being such 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 unsure if still roaming in the park.
Home to many exciting birds, the park is becoming a popular birding destination. Short-tailed parrotbill and blue-naped pitta are two species that has only been recorded in Phu Suan Sai National Park in Thailand. Other interesting finds are Rufous-throated fulvetta, dark-sided thrush, rufous-gorgeted flycatcher and plumbeous water redstart. Less than 200 bird species have been recorded in the park so far.
The park is open all year round and it is possible to enter the park any time of the day, no limitation. Entrance fees are 100 Baht for adult foreigners and 50 Baht for children. Cars will be charged with 30 Baht. Entrance fees are valid for 7 days if stayed inside the park.
There are no public transportation options to get to the park. Visitors are recommended to arrange private transportation. Motorbikes are allowed inside the park.
The park has 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.
You are recommended to ask a Thai speaking person to call on your behalf.
- 094 239 2498 (Visitor Center)
- 086 066 4147 (Phu Hau Hom substation)
The attractions of Phu Suan Sai
The visitor center of the park is just 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 is open 8 am until 4:39 pm every day all year round.
Every smaller campground has it's over toilet/shower building, one of the bathrooms at each campground have hot shower which is very unique for a national park in Thailand. Hot showers are normally found only in bungalows in some national parks. Being at around 900 meters asl, it can be quite chilly from early evening onward and hot shower is a bit plus for such a small park.
Large tents for 2 people can be rent for 150 Baht per night from the visitor center, very cheap compared to other national parks across the country. It costs another 50 Baht per person for sleeping set (matt, pillow, blanket and sleeping bag). Larger tents for 4 people are 300 Baht per day. Own tent will be charged with 30 Baht per night. (Price from April 2019)
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 parrotbill, blue-naped pitta 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 good view over upstream and downstream as the stream bends around the hide a bit. The trail-head is found between the end of birds trail and the nearest bridge. There are several plastic chairs in the hide.
Phu Khum Khao Trail & Campsite
The campsite at Phu Khum Mounrain is 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 for 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, then around 4 km moderate to easy walk along a mountain ridge until 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 where another ranger to take hikers back to the headquarters area.
There are two viewpoints used as resting spots before the campsite. The campsite has also 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 in more or less 5-5.5 hours.
It costs 500 Baht to walk 8 km trail during a day trip with a ranger (no overnight stay), and another 400 Baht for a second ranger to pickup from end of trail to return to the headquarters, total; 900 Baht. The visitors to pay for few beverages or water for the ranger as well. The visitors are recommended to pay 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.
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 and tents can't be brought from the visitor center to set up here.
There is an approximately 5 km long trail from this substation to Phu Khum Khao Campsite, ranger accompany needed to walk this trail. A ranger to walk the trail with can be arranged from the visitor center.