Ob Khan Canyon National Park
Ob Khan National Park has a large natural diversity, comprising fertile forest with several interesting spots and water holes. It covers 691 square kilometres.
The limestone and granite mountains reach from 400 to 1,800 meters above sea level, comprising Ob (Canyon), caves, waterfalls and hot springs. The weather is comfortably pleasantly warm all year round. Wet clothes dry quickly while you wear them.
Fun Things To Do
There are many fun things to do at this park.
Nature watching, camping and hiking, bloudering, cliff jumping and of course swimming.
The terrain is a bit rough above and below water.
Wear robust clothes for any activities to protect from sharp rocks.
Ob Khan Canyon is a popular place where the locals go to enjoy a picnic and a swim. This is a fun place for swimming.
Everyody swims in their clothes, as is the custom in Thailand. Please do likewise and you win new friends. You'll find it is a lot more fun to swim fully clothed and feels comfy while you avoid injury and sunburn. Shoes or sandals avoid stepping on broken glass or sharp rocks.
The water is mostly shallow so you can wade across to the other side. Only a few spots are more than chest deep. They are used for cliff jumping.
The water flows slowly, but there are underwater boulders you may drift against.
Jeans and hoodies are often worn by the locals for that reason.
Wear robust clothes for swimming and you'll be fine.
Ob Khan Canyon is a great place for cliff jumping. There are several spots from where you can jump into deep water from various heights, up to about 10 meters high.
The locals jump fully clothed with jeans to avoid cuts and bruises as they jump and climb. We suggest you do the same.
Be careful where you jump. Watch the locals hop in first. They know the deep spots.
There is a 2 meter high spot in the middle of the area which is fairly safe and very popular.
Further up, where the canyon narrows is another deep pool with high cliffs at one side and a rock for spectators on the other. Some jumps are over 6 meters (20 feet) high. Use extreme caution.
Because of recent accidents, the local authorities may ban cliff jumping in some of the places.
Stay clear of those areas.
The park becomes quiet and beautiful when the rain falls in the Green Season (May to October). This is a good time to hike along the gorge. There is a long path that leads upstream. Be careful. It can be slippery when wet.
Again, we recommend quick drying, robust clothes, as you will be crossing through water several times, or just go for a swim to cool off.
We recommend cargo pants, fleece top, and a poncho, with robust socks and shoes.
The cargo pants are robust,
the fleece to soaks up your sweat,
and the poncho keeps the bugs and rain away.
This is a good outfit for walking and swimming.
Hiking and Camping
Hiking and camping in this park is a thorough and rewarding experience. If you enjoy the outdoors and camp fire cooking, then this is an escape unlike anywhere around Chiang Mai.
If you bring your own stuff it's free and camp anywhere you like. But if you rent it is 100B per night for the tent and 100B per night for roll-mats and sleeping bags and you must camp next to the ranger's station. Enjoy a beautiful night under the stars and in the morning jump into flowing water that hasn’t been sullied by man and machine.
The park workers informed us that farang (foreigners) very rarely visit the park headquarters,
and absolutely no one hikes and camps where we did, so if you really want to get out of it, this is the place.
The park is located near Hang Dong, south west of Chiang Mai, 11 kilometres down the canal road, heading south of Suthep Junction. When you see a sign for Ob Khan turn right and follow the road until you reach the park headquarters. Be careful as the road is extremely narrow and curvy. If you want a guide, call first and arrange it with the park office.
Although Ob Khan is a national park, it is free to the Thai and farang (tourist) public. They do accept donations for the running of the park but you are in no way obliged.
Parking: Free for cars and motorbikes overnight.
Toilets: At the park HQ
Park information: There is a small ranger's station with a few English leaflets about the park and a basic map. Friendly Thai speaking staff.
Food and Drink: There are a couple of small vendors selling things during the day. You'll need to bring water or water treatment if you are camping. We've drunk lots of treated water from the river and had no problems.