Designated as a national park in 1972, Nam Nao covers an area of 966 kilometers in the mountain forests of Petchabun and Chaiyapum provinces in northeastern Thailand. It is the best national park in the area and one of the best in the country with good wildlife viewing, bird watching, hiking, and support for a number of IUCN Red List animals and birds.
The flora consists mainly of dry, mixed deciduous, evergreen hills, extensive bamboo groves, pine forests, and some grasslands. Nam Nao National Park is very popular with local tourists on weekends and holidays because of its picturesque scenery, especially during the cold season when the morning fog covers the forests in white.
Getting to the park is relatively easy as there are many public transportation options between Haon Kaen to the west and Lom Sak or Petchaboon to the east along Highway 12, with buses stopping at the main checkpoint. Headquarters and facilities are located 50 km east of Lom Sak and another 1.7 km north of the checkpoint on the main road.
To get to the headquarters from the checkpoint is a long walk, or you can ask the rangers at the checkpoint for a cab. Entrance fees are 200 baht for foreigners (100 baht for children) and 40 baht for Thai citizens (20 baht for children).
The HQ has a visitor center and other administrative buildings: three spacious campsites, three restaurants with a good selection of meals that are open from 6am to 9pm, two stores and toilet/shower facilities. Tents with the necessary camping equipment such as: mats, sleeping bags / blankets, pillows can be rented at the visitor center.
There are several bungalows in the center for visitors. Prices range from 1,000 baht for 4 people to 4,000 baht, there will be a significant discount if you book on Mon-Fri. All bungalows are equipped with a fan and hot showers. Bungalows can be booked in advance on the DNP website.
Since the money transfer must be done within 2 days and transfers from abroad take longer, reservations can only be made from Thailand. Payment can be made at 7-Eleven stores or banks.
The park is home to many interesting animal species such as elephant, gaur, banteng, leopard, barking deer, sambar deer, golden jackal, Asian black bear, sun bear, wild boar and many others. The appearance of elephants on the roads is a common sight.
Elephants are so common here that the tent sites are surrounded by an electric fence. Nam Nao counts more than 220 known species of birds, and the dry state of the forests makes birdwatching easier.
Species to be found around the headquarters include the red trogon, blue magpie with red beaks, great barbet, great yellowish meadowlark, gray headed woodpecker, gray cap woodpecker, bamboo woodpecker, big woodpecker, Eurasian jay, black-legged laugh, milkvetch with smaller necklaces, golden-crested maya, golden faced leaf-bird, common woodpecker, and ruby-cheeked sunbird.
If you hike the park on many of the trails or go further afield to other parts of the park, you'll have more opportunities to see silver pheasant, blue pitta, barred grouse, collared owl, collared falcon, flowering parrot, oriental and turtledove.
The average altitude, 800 meters, makes this park comfortable and cool all year round. The average annual temperature is about 25 ° C, frost can occur from November to January, and night temperatures sometimes drop to 0 ° C. Visitors are advised to have warmer clothing during the cold season.
West Isaan Forest Complex
Nam Nao National Park is part of the Western Isaan Forest Complex, which includes three other national parks and four wildlife reserves, totaling 4,594 km. The protected areas in the complex are: 1. Nam Nao National Park 2. Thad Moc National Park 3. Phu Pa Man National Park 4. Phu Kradueng National Park 5. Phu Khaeo Reserve 6. Phu Phung Nature Reserve 7. Phu Pha Daeng Nature Reserve 8. Thaboa Huai Yai Nature Reserve
Nam Nao sights
There are many circular trails around the headquarters, most of which are circular and cross each other at several points. Trail options are 1 km, 3 km, 4.5 km and 5.8 km. Elephant activity during the night is high, but the campsites are protected by an electric fence, avoid touching it.
The only area where visitors are allowed to walk at night is between the visitor center and the checkpoint on the main road, although permission from the visitor center is required.
Near the visitor center there is a parking lot, several stores, and several restaurants serving some of the best food of any national parks we have visited. A few hundred yards to the east there are three very spacious campgrounds that can be very busy on weekends, especially during long vacations.
The restrooms always have electricity and are relatively clean compared to most other restrooms in the parks. On busier days, there will be loud announcements early in the morning before sunrise, asking people to join group tours to the nearest observation deck.
Nam Nao is one of the most interesting areas to explore caves. One of the longest caves in Thailand, among many others, is in the northern part of the park, easily reached by road and hiking.
Tam Yay Nam Nao System
With an impressive length of 9,817 meters, descending 76 meters from almost 700 meters above sea level, Tam Yai Nam Nao is the third longest known cave in Thailand. It has five entrances and an impressive formation of stalagmites and stalactites. There are many other small and medium-sized caves up to 1000 meters long in the same area.
Tam Yay Nam Nao is a popular place among local tourists on weekends and holidays. On weekdays, it becomes more quiet, with only a few guides walking around, helping tourists. The first part of the cave has metal stairs and a passage leading to a second entrance. Climbing up will lead to one smaller entrance than a little further to the "bat entrance" and finally to an entrance called the "tourist entrance" which leads to a large fossil passage and bat burrows.
Tam Yai Nam Nao is located in the northern part of the park on Mount Tam Yai, clearly marked from Highway 2216 in Ban Non Chat, and can be reached on foot 3 km from the nearest ranger station.
Tem Pak Nou.
Located at the western end of the Tem Faya Nak cave system in the Tem Pak Nou area, it is accessible from the parking lot and the trail that runs along the valley floor to the cliffs on the right. This cave is 75 meters long and is a limestone outline on the western edge of the mountain. The cave has a large chamber of about 30 meters
Faya Nak's Tem system
Three sub-caves called Tem Wai Man Mick, Tem Nop Pa Krauv and Tem Faya Nak, with a total length of 1,285 meters at an altitude of 801 to 875 meters. There are also many caves around, the most notable of which is Tem Bach Den, 655 meters long.
Tem Monghwa Cave
This cave, also known as Forest Tree Cave, is located in the northern part of Khao Tham Yai Mountain in the same area as Tham Yai Nam Nao Cave.
Tem Par Hong
The cave is 105 meters long in an isolated limestone outskirts, about 12.5 km west of the headquarters on the main road (Highway 12). The cave is well marked from the road. Height above sea level: 885 meters. Just 100 meters from Tem Par Hong, there is a cave 10 meters long.
4.2 km west of the main checkpoint near headquarters, a good view to the east where you can see the sunrise.
Sunset Point of View
10.7 km west of the main checkpoint is a good view where you can see the sunset. The observation deck is only a few hundred meters from Par Hong Cave.
Hav Cy and Cy Tong Waterfall
Haw Sai and Sai Tong Falls are two waterfalls that can be reached by road 17.5 km east of the checkpoint on the main road.
Hai Sai Waterfo
The waterfall is 20 meters high, flowing into the pool, 700 meters from the main road.
Sai Tong Falls
A beautiful waterfall 30 meters wide and 4 meters high, 1.5 km from the main road.
Fu Fa Chi Summit
1,271 meters above sea level, this is the highest peak of the park, which can be reached by hiking the trail. The trail is 10 km long and the walk takes about 6-7 hours.