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Geography And Natural Attractions In National Parks of Northeast Thailand

The Geography of Northeast Thailand and the location of the National Parks

  • Water is one key element in creating a micro-climate and hence determining the vegetation and resulting wildlife. The major sources of water in Isan are its mountain ranges, from which the rivers flow that ultimately empty into the Mekong River. Apart from the largest tributary of the Mekong River in Isan, the Mun River, and its large, secondary tributary, the Chi River, all other such rivers have their source in the water catchment provinces of the Mekong River. Their sources are of two kinds, groundwater and surface water. Precipitation, largely rainwater, is absorbed by forests in high mountains which cause rain clouds to discharge. The forest cover virtually sponges up most of this precipitation. Water, the source of life, is plentiful in mountain forests. Most National Parks in Northeast Thailand have been selected in these mountainous water catchment areas.
  • The mountains with the headwater areas of rivers which empty into the Mekong River dot the landscape unevenly in Isan. They cluster at highest density in the northwest of the riparian belt, are scattered along the river course bending toward the southeast, and form a watershed in the extreme south of Isan.
  • In the west of the riparian belt, the northern-most reaches of the eastern flank of the Phetchabun Mountain Range, situated in present Loei Province, and the numerous mountains in the centre of this province pose a barrier to the river course in north-south direction and cause its bend toward the east.
  • The western mountains in Loei Province are, in descending order by altitude of their highest peaks, Phu Hin Rong Kla, Phu Khat, Phu Plaek, Khao Khrok Ma Hon and Phu Ang Rang. The centrally located mountains include, Phu Luang, Phu Ruea, Phu Pha Hat Thai, Phu Kradueng, Phu Pha Sat, Phu Ho, Phu Khao Yai, Phu Pueai and Phu Son Champa. Major rivers flowing from these mountain areas and emptying into the Mekong River include Huai Nam Man, Mae Nam Hueang and Nam Loei.
  • The province of Nong Khai, stretched out alongside the Mekong River, is far less mountainous. From west to east, in parallel with the river course, are the mountains of Phu Pha, Phu Ya Ao and Phu Wua Lang Tham Po. The major tributaries of the Mekong River crossing this province rise in the mountains of the neighbouring provinces of Udon Thani and Sakon Nakhon. They are Nam Mong, Huai Luang and Nam Songkhram. The Songkhram River is the third longest river of Isan. It empties into the Mekong River in the neighbouring province of Nakhon Phanom.
  • The large plains and upland areas of Nakhon Phanom Province are bordered by the Phu Langka Klang mountain in the north and the Phu Lan Chang mountain in the south. Main rivers include Huai Thuai, Huai Bang Ko and Lam Nam Bang.
  • In contrast, the area of Mukdahan Province is largely mountainous and hilly. In its west are, in descending order of altitudes of highest peaks, Phu Moi and Phu Lek Fai. Centrally located are the mountains of Phu Pham, Phu Mae Nang Mon and Phu Si Than. The south has the Phu Mai Sang, Phu Rasae and Phu Phaeng Ma. Here tributaries of the Mekong River include Huai Bang Sai, Huai Muk and Huai Bang I.
  • The Phu Rasae mountain reaches into Amnat Charoen Province, with the Phu Kaset, Phu Phak Pueai and Phu Sing mounts in its middle. The main rivers are Huai Kaeo Maeng, Huai Thom and Lam Sebai. The latter river is one of those flowing either directly into the Mekong River upstream of its confluence with the Mun River, or into the Mun River. The others are Huai Phra Lao, Lam Sebok and Huai Tung Lung.
  • South of the Mun River, which together with the Chi River forms the largest river basin of Isan, is the western flank of the mountain range which forms a watershed. In northsouth direction lie the mountains of Phu Chan Daeng, Phu Yai, Phu Man Kaeo, Phu Chong Na Yoi and Phu Khi Suek, all in the eastern reach of the Dong Rak Range and situated in Ubon Ratchathani Province. The two main rivers flowing into the Mun River are the Lam Dom Yai and Lam Dom Noi.
  • These mountains with headwater areas and river basins broadening into the plain alongside the mighty Mekong River form the northern and eastern water catchment belt of Isan.

Waterfalls In National Parks In Northeast Thailand And Where To Find Them

  • Waterfalls are the most popular destination of tourists. In Isan the number of waterfalls is huge. Hence, the list of the spectacular ones is long.

(1) Loei Province

  • Owing to its largely mountainous terrain, Loei Province is particularly rich in waterfalls, called nam tokin Thai, in amazing natural settings. They include Wang Kwang, Phen Phop Mai, Phon Phop, Phen Phop, Tham Yai, Than Sawan, Tham So Nuea, Tham So Tai and Sa Anodat in the Phu Kradueng National Park; Huai Phai in the Phu Ruea National Park; Suan Hom and Phlang Din in the Suan Hin Pha Ngam Park; Suan Hom, also known as Santi Thara, and Phiang Din, also known as Wisut Thara, in Nong Hin District; Pla Ba, also known as Tat San, in Phu Ruea District; Kaeng Song Khon in Dan Sai District; and Than Sawan, Khring as well as Tat Hueang in Na Haeo District.
(2) Nong Khai Province
  • Well-known waterfalls of Nong Khai Province include Tham Fun, Chet Si, Phu Tham Phra and Chanaen, also known as Tat Sanaen, in the Phu Wua Wildlife Reserve; and Than Thip as well as Than Thong in Sangkhom District.