When you go to Bangkok, you must think about shopping. When you go to Phuket, you must think of the sea. So how about when you go to Chiang Mai, what will you think of? I think most of you must think of mountains because as we know that Chiang Mai is surrounded by mountains. When talking about mountains, you must go to Doi Inthanon. If you never been to Doi Inthanon, don’t tell anyone that you have been to Chiang Mai, since Doi Inthanon is the highest mountain in Thailand which located in Chom Thong District.
Doi Inthanon was called Doi Luang ( big mountain ) or Doi Ang Ga ( crow’s pond top ) in the past. Doi Inthanon is considered a must-visit nature reserve if you are traveling in Chang Mai. If you are a lover of nature, you must love Doi Inthanon. In Doi Inthanon, can view different species of bird, different size of waterfalls and you can also enjoy your day by walking along the trail with beautiful scenic.
If you heard the words “The Roof of Thailand” during your trip,
You should know that they meant the summit on the mountain of Doi Inthanon which is considered the highest mountain in Thailand. Once you stand there you can see a whole sea of clouds below you.
The last kings of Chiang Mai – King Inthawichayanon like the forests in the north of Thailand so much and would like to preserve it. After his death, some of the remainings were placed in the park as he had ordered and the forest was renamed to Doi Inthanon. ‘Doi’ is the meaning of the mountain which is usually used in the north. Just like ‘Khao’ which also means mountain but used in the south.
Seasons of Chiang Mai:
Rainy season – May to October
Most rainfall – July to September
Winter – November to February
Foreigner: 300 THB (adult), 150 THB (child)
Thai: 50 THB (adult), 20 THB (child)
Car: 30 THB
Motorbike: 20 THB
Attractions of Doi Inthanon
Doi Inthanon Summit
It is the highest peak with 2,565 meters asl. When you go to the Doi Inthanon Summit, you need to walk for a few hundred meters since cars can only be parked in the car park. That means you can’t go there directly by car. Make sure that you check the temperature fore and bring enough clothes because it is the highest peak with 2,565 meters asl and it can be cold. The most important thing that you must do is to watch the beautiful sunrise with the sea of clouds. Remember to bring a good camera with you. If not, you will feel regret for not taking photos of this amazing place.
It is also known as Phra Mahathat Naphamethanidon and Nophamethanidon or King & Queen Pagoda in Thai, Two Chedis are near to the peak of Doi Inthanon which are 5 km south on the main road. The first of the chedis, Naphamethinidon, meaning ‘by the strength of the land and air’ was built in 1987 to honor the 60th birthday anniversary of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The second chedi, Naphaphonphumisiri, meaning ‘being the strength of the air and the grace of the land’ was built in 1992 to honor the 60th birthday anniversary of Queen Sirikit. There are colorful flowers that are planted around the Two Chedis in 365 days. There is a viewpoint with beautiful scenery on the west side of the park which is also a popular place for watching the sunset.
You can hear the sound of the water once you park your car. Once you stand in front of the waterfall, you must probably say ‘WOW, because of the size. The size of this waterfall is very exaggerated with around 40 meters height and gives you wide Impressive look. You can also see the rainbow in this waterfall.
It is also one of the most popular waterfalls at 2 km which is accessible by a 200 meters long trail from the parking area on the main road. This waterfall can only be seen from a viewpoint which is not too far away. However, It is not possible for you to get down to the waterfall.
It is accessible by a trail on the west side of Ban Khun Klang village and the Royal Garden which is 1.5 km off the road 1284 north of headquarters. If you come here during February, you will be surprised by the Sakura blooming which is all around the waterfall. The special of this waterfall is that you can see it but it also looks like to disappear in the forest.
Mae Klang Waterfall
It is the first waterfall on the main road into the national park which is nearly 100 meters high over several tiers. The highest tier is nearly 25-30 meters high. It is in the southeast part of the park which is located 600 meters south of the checkpoint.
Mae Ya Waterfall
This waterfall is plunging from several tiers that over 250 meters. The main accessible tier is 40 to 50 meters high and around 100 meters wide. It must be the most impressive falls in the Park. It is also the biggest waterfall in the country.
Mae Pan Waterfall
It is impressive in the rainy season since it provides a long floating of water. Although it is not the biggest, it is the longest. It is around 100 m from top to bottom
Ang Ka Luang Nature Trail
This trail is around 360 m which takes you around 30 minutes walking. It’s is at 2,500 asl. It is a short nature trail on the opposite side to the summit. The word ‘Ang Ka’ means Crow’s Pond which is the highest natural water pond in Thailand. You can meet the habitat in the park. The habitat around the boardwalk is magical and densely in 365 days. In this trial, you can meet Ashy-Throated Warbler, Green-Tailed Sunbird, Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird, etc. That’s why this trail is highly recommended.
Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail
This trail is at 2,200 m asl and is 2.5 km long which must be accompanied by the Hmong Tribe guide. It takes you around 2-3 hours to finish the whole trail. The word ‘Kew’ means a narrow path. The walking trail can be divided into 3 stages which consist of 21 stations which bring you excitement. You must go and feel it on your own if you are interested. It is easy to walk, clear, and well maintained. Part of the trail is along with a beautiful view over the west in a mountain ridge. You can view the two Chedis and Mae Ya Waterfall in this trail. It costs 200 THB to hire a guide who is always waiting at the trailhead on the main road.
Warmly reminder: This trail is closed from June to October, re-opens the 1st of November.
Getting to the park
Although Doi Inthanon is a famous park in Thailand. However, getting to Doi Inthanon is still a bit challenging. The first transportation that you think of must be songthaew but I am sure that you will get annoyed from changing one songthaew to another and for the time too. As usual, it takes at least 2.5 – 3 hours to reach the park from Chiang Mai.
However, due to the insufficient number of passengers, the drivers always depart late and that makes the whole trip take longer than 3 hours. After you get to the park by songthaew, another problem is the distance between the attractions in the park. Maybe you would like to visit attractions step by step (foot) but I can tell that you are not able to do that unless you really like challenging yourselves.
If you really go Doi Inthanon by songthaew, you need first go to Chom Thong (34 THB) and change songthaew to Doi Inthanon. Songthaew with 12 people is around 1500 THB – 2000 THB. if there are less than 12 people, the price will be divided equally.
Warmly reminder: be careful of the schedule of songthaew from Chom Tong to Chiang Mai. No more songthaew after 5 pm from Chom Tong to Chiang Mai
Another option that you choose must be by taxi which is around the market rates and is much cheaper than the expensive alternatives that are offered by hotels & resorts. Price is from 2,700 THB (full day) or from 1,300 – 2,000 THB ( one way ).
By Private Tour
Price Started from 1,800 THB to 6500 THB with full-day service to Doi Inthanon. The driver comes and picks you up at 8 am and sends back to the hotel at around 6 pm. The driver takes you to multiple spots in the park.
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The best way to discover Doi Inthanon is by renting a car or joining minibus tours with English speaking guides that can make you know about Doi Inthanon in more detail.
For those who can ride a scooter, I recommend you to have a try which is only 200 THB. Driving around on a scooter can be quite an unforgettable experience during cold periods, but it is not recommended unless you are properly dressed. Also, you can also drive a sedan on your own which costs 800 THB. Driving a sedan, you can control the time on your own and you can be more comfortable.
The main entrance point to the national park is via a checkpoint at 8 km of the rural road 1009 accessible from the highway 108 southwest from Chiang Mai. The visitor center and the headquarters are in another 22 km inside the park.