Chiang Dao has three types of forests, which have different responsibilities.
1. Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary: The main mission is not for tourism. There is no facility. The main mission is to protect and care for wildlife and plant species in the area. Normally, it does not allow entry. To enter, you need permission. But it opens for nature study for a short period of only 3 months, from November to early February. Doi Luang Chiang Dao or Doi Chiang Dao is in the area of responsibility of Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary. The highlight of the route is beautiful, with beautiful viewpoints.
2. Pha Daeng National Park: The main mission of the park is to take care of natural resources as well, but it is more open to tourism. There are facilities to generate income from tourism. The main attractions are Sri Sangwan Waterfall, Pong Ang Hot Spring and Doi Khum Fah. To enter the park area, you can buy tickets directly without permission, but stay in the area that is prepared for you only. In case of hiking on a short nature trail, you can walk directly at Sri Sangwan Waterfall. The distance is about 1-1.30 hours. The highlight of the route is beautiful, with beautiful viewpoints. In case of hiking on a nature trail at Doi Khum Fah, you need to contact the staff or a local tour company with a licensed guide. This is for safety standards. You cannot walk alone by yourself, because it is not a prepared route. Unless a local guide with a valid license and knows the route can take you, you must have staff join you.
3. Community forest: The community forest will be allocated by the Department of Forestry to allow the community to participate in conservation and use of resources in the area around the community. The prominent ones are Mae Mae Community Forest, Ban Yang Pu To Community Forest and Mae Sai Community Forest. You cannot enter by yourself, even if you are a local guide with a valid license. You have to walk with a representative of the community. The highlight is close, convenient, easy to walk, suitable for beginners. The downside is the viewpoint and the service of the community, especially the language problem.
Entering the forest by yourself is illegal, no matter what type of forest it is. Because it is considered that you use the resources without permission. You may be a good hiker, have modern equipment and tools, but sometimes you may not understand the culture and customs, the dangers of some plant and animal species. Every route still has poaching, forest harvesting or even drug trafficking. In case of any incidents, it is difficult to communicate, especially in terms of language.
Going with a local guide who has a valid license is better than going alone. Even the guide himself has to work with the villagers and staff. He cannot work alone.