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Chiang Mai, Thailand Revisited – A Field Report


Dedicated to our Chinese friends on their first butterfly watching trip

outside of Mainland China, 12th to 17th August 2006

By James J. Young 

            Chiang Mai, Thailand is not new to me.  I have been going to this northern province of Thailand for many years. It is an ideal place to go for butterfly watching.  There are many national parks surrounding Chiang Mai that are accessible for a day trip and which teem with a good number of beautiful butterflies.  As an added incentive, it is not an expensive place to go. 

The pumping Lamproptera meges virescens  and Lamproptera curius curius
Pong Duet Hot Spring 13-8-06 and Pha Daeng Cave 14-8-06

            At the start of the year, Cheni (Xi Chang Chen), my good friend from Guangzhou, China, asked me to go with him to Thailand for butterfly watching, as they are now allowed to go to Thailand on a tourist visa on their own. In the past recent years, the Mainland Chinese had to join package tours in order to visit Thailand.  I happily agreed without a bit of hesitation and proposed Chiang Mai as our destination.  Chiang Mai has always been my favourite butterfly haven in Thailand.  

            I asked Lam Sir (Yong Ming Lin) to join as well. I have known both Cheni and Lam Sir since 1995 and they are my good companions whenever I go to China for butterfly watching.  They may not have the qualifications of entomologists as per academic standards, but in my more than 35 years of being a butterfly enthusiast, I can say that these guys are the butterfly experts in Guangzhou. They spend more hours and days in the field than most scientists who spend more time in air-conditioned offices and laboratories after earning their doctorate degree. I believe that to know butterflies and anything of nature can best be accomplished in the field. A piece of paper does not make an expert. Experience is truly the best teacher.  It is interesting to note that most of the acknowledged authorities in the butterfly world come from a non-scientific background and had started only as hobbyists.  

Myself, Lam Sir and Cheni at Doi Inthanon 13-8-06

            Chiang Mai is always a place to discover. The whole week was spent visiting five national parks namely, Doi Inthanon, Doi Khuntan, Mae Takhrai, Huay Nam Dang and Chiang Doi National Parks. We were blessed with good sunshine and colourful butterflies during the day, with the rain cooperatively watering the surrounding when it was time to go back to our hotel. Everyday was a delightful routine of basking in sunshine and hibernating in our abodes, very much like the butterflies.  

            Doi Khuntan surprisingly yielded many nice butterflies this time of the year. The skippers always stood out.  Normally, Doi Inthanon would be the favourite place to linger about, especially during dry season, when scores of Arhopalas congregate around small bushes within close-up range.  Surprisingly Mae Takhrai was not too bad either for this trip. There were scores of butterflies merrily hovering around a flowering tree close to the reservoir. They were high up in the tree’s canopy and were too difficult to photograph. We just watched with great excitement and awe the merriment of butterflies feasting on nectar.  

After a couple of hours, the strain on our neck became unbearable.  It was time to move on and find low flying butterflies.    

               Human tripod


A couple of male Simiskina phalia binghami marking their territories at the summit trail at Doi Khuntan 15-8-06

            Mae Takhrai does not collect any fees to venture in the park. The other parks collect entrance fee of 200 baht per person. We were charged a very reasonable fee for our car and for the local driver as well. 

Delias descombesi descombesi and a mating pair at Mae Takhrai 16-8-06

The trip went smoothly as planned and everyone had a wonderful time.  Chiang Mai is a butterfly watcher’s paradise. Cheni and Lam Sir are great butterfly watching buddies.  I would love to go with them again in the near future for another butterfly watching adventure.  


13th August - Doi Inthanon

Tagiades japetus ravi Pseudocoladenia dan fabia Tagiades litigiosus litigiosus

Arhopala perimuta perimuta

Pirdana distanti distanti

Zeltus amasa amasa

Zeltus amasa amasa



14th August - Huay Nam Dang

Aeromachus stigmatus shanda Ochus subvittatus subvittatus Sarangesa dasahara dasahara
Sarangesa dasahara dasahara Arnetta atkinsoni Koruthaialos rubecula hector
Ancistroides gemmifer gemmifer Coladenia laxmi sobrina Cheritra freja freja


15th August - Doi Chiang Dao

Celaenorrhinus aurivittatus aurivittatus Iton semamora semamora Hyarotis adrastus prabha
Celaenorrhinus putra sanda  Seseria affinis kirmana Psolos fuligo subfasciatus
Arnetta atkinsoni Sovia albipecta Onryza siamica
Sovia albipecta Sovia albipecta Sovia albipecta


16th August - Doi Khuntan

Sebastonyma pudens Thoressa cerata Odontontoptilum angulatum
 Iton watsonii  Halpe spp. Tagiades litigiosus litigiosus
Arhopala hellenore hellenore Spindasis vulcanus tavoyanus Halpe arcuata

Apporasa atkinsoni

Polyura jalysus jalysus

17th August - Mae Takhrai

Troides aeacus aeacus Arnetta atkinsoni Arnetta atkinsoni
Loxura atymnus continentalis Ariadne merione tapestrina Hypolycaena erylus himavantus
Troides aeacus aeacus Doleschallia bisaltide siamensis Polyura nepenthes nepenthes


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