Pha Taem National park is situated around 30 km north of Khong Chiem, the place where the Moon river meets the Maekhong. Khong Chiam itself has become a bustling town rather than the charming fishing village on the Mekhong that it once was, but it still has a nice feel to it. I am not sure that the fishing is as good as it was twenty years ago before the dam was built upstream on the Moon river. Then the fishermen regularly landed large catches of big fish in the rapids near the confluence. Now you can spend an interesting if hot hour or two walking over the interesting rock formations that formed the rapids. After that, there are some good open air restaurants in Khong Chiam overlooking the bank of the Mekhong.
Pha Taem National park is famous for the ancient rock paintings, which date back thousands of years and there is a very interesting walk which takes about 1 hour underneath the pained cliffs. There are great views of the Mekhong from the top of the cliff, and the landscape, at least in the dry season, has an almost australian look about it. It is a landscape formed by fire, and that was very evident when we were there in the dry season. There are also a number of strange rock formations dotted around the landscape.
One of the “things to do” at Pha Taem is to watch the sunrise here, it being the most easterly point in Thailand. I am not so much of a sunrise person myself, and find the sunset with a cold one equally inspiring. It is quite a popular park, and you will certainly not feel lonely here at weekends.
The campsite is unexciting, but reasonable facilities. In the dry season it was pretty hot as most of the trees in the area lose their foliage. It is located about 6 km from the main painted cliff attraction. Camping at pha taem seems to cater to large parties, possibly schoolchildren, so you could find it quite noisy at times, but it was quite empty when we visited. After a long and hot walk along the cliffs, any campsite with decent showers and a crackling fire feels pretty good though.
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