Doi Inthanon the wonderful place for nature lovers

doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon

Doi Inthanon is a must place to visit if you are going to Chiang Mai. On this tour you can cool off on Thailand’s highest peak while taking in the beautiful scenic Doi Inthanon National Park.

Located in Chiang Mai Province, Inthanon National Park encompasses the highest mountain In Thailand, Doi Inthanon, as well as several lesser summits. The doi (mountain) is largely a granite batholith intruding a southerly extension of the Shan Hills range and forming the divide between the Nam Mae Ping river to the east and the Nam Mae Chaem river to the west. Lower elevations in the most easterly pant of the park are limestone formations and contain a number of caves.

A winding route to the top of the mountain passes terraced rice paddies and small villages, and also provides some good wildlife-spotting opportunities along the way – barking deer, macaques, flying squirrels and rare Asiatic black bears live among the mountains.

Today, the national park and the summit of Doi Inthanon, with an elevation of 2,565 m, is a highly popular tourist spot in north Thailand among foreigners as well as locals.

doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon
doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon

Doi Inthanon is a true jewel of natural beauty, consisting of rugged mountainous terrain blanketed by lush tropical forests and dotted with mighty rivers and majestic waterfalls. The park’s protected status makes it a sanctuary for a wide range of animal species and it is perhaps the best place in Thailand for bird watching. Approximately 362 different species of bird make their home in Doi Inthanon National Park, many of which are not found anywhere else in Thailand.

The high elevation and abundance of water have blessed Doi Inthanon with a rich biodiversity that is unique in Thailand. Its lush forests include Moist Evergreen, Pine Forest and Mixed Deciduous. At the base of the mountains cleared agricultural land is interspersed with deciduous trees, which lose their leaves at the coming of the dry season. At higher elevations the deciduous forests give way to large swathes of tropical evergreen, which maintain their emerald hue all year round. Doi Inthanon is home to a large and colourful array of flowers, as well. Vanda Orchids, Phycastylis and Rhododendron can be found growing wild all over the park. Doi Inthanon National Park is also home to a wide variety of animal species. Although many of the large animals are no longer found in the park it is still home to a number of different species. Asiatic Black Bears, Barking Deer and Chinese Flying Squirrels can be seen, living alongside a large variety of primates including Gibbons, Macaques, Leaf Monkeys and over 30 species of bats. Doi Inthanon is also the best locale in Thailand for bird watching, with over 300 different species making their homes among the trees.

doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon
doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon

Attractions of Doi Inthanon :

doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon

Doi Inthanon Summit : Almost at the top of the mountain the road will terminate at a car park from here it is a short 5 minute walk to Thailand’s highest point and the true peak of Doi Inthanon. There is a large sign marking this posit and having your picture taken under this seems to be the most popular activity. The peak is still well forested so there are no views from this point, you will get better views a bit further down the mountain and the Royal Pagodas.

doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon

Ang Ka Luang : Ang Ka Luang Nature Trail was surveyed and designed by Mr. Michael MacMillan Walls, a Canadian volunteer biologist who devoted to his work and died from a heart attack on this mountain. This trail is 360 metres long, passing through wet and cold areas in a lush valley.  Forest above 2,000 metres is covered with lichens and wild orchids.   Indigenous plants that needs a high level of nutrition, organic deposits, and rare species of birds are seen along the trail.

doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon
doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon

Birdwatching : Birdwatching (Birdwatching Information Centre (Uncle Daeng’s Shop) is at km31). This is a bird information exchange centre for bird watchers, nature students and the general public. The information details the habitat and food of birds and animals living on Doi Inthanon. The aim is to pass on this knowledge to the next generation. It also provides the Doi Inthanon Birdwatching Diary, bird sketches by various artists, bird watching trails, bird pictures, and slides. Winter is the best time for bird watching when indigenous and migrant birds are found including Eurasian Woodcock, White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Citrine Wagtail, Forest Wagtail, Chestnut Thrush, Scarlet Finch, Little Bunting, and Crested Bunting.

doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon

Kaew Mae Pan Nature Trail : Trekking through the green forest with the fresh air is very pleasant here. The total distant is about 2.5 – 3 kilometers. It will take about 2 – 3 hours all the whole way. You will enjoy the walk and the beautiful nature of trees , ferns , waterfall and more. From the green forest, soon you will get into the big open space with the lovely view of the mountains and the cool breeze of the view points. Over look view as the birds’re fling in the sky. On the walk way , the trail will lead you along side of the mountains area through Alpine Savanna. You may be lucky and have a chance to see Mainland Sero and Goral climb on the cliff. See the twin rocks of Kew Mae Pan with the lovely view for photos before walking back through the trail in the forest again to the parking

doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon

Phra Mahathat Naphamethanidon and Nophamethanidon : Two Chedis on the main road 5 km wouth from the top of the main summit of Doi Inthanon. Naphamethinidon, meaning ‘by the strength of the land and air’ was build in 1987 to honour 60th birthday aniversary of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Naphaphonphumisiri, meaning ‘being the strength of the air and the grace of the land’ was build in 1992 to honour 60th birthday anniversary of Queen Sirikit. The pagodas enshrine Lord Buddha’s ashes and Buddha images, and overlook the scenery of Doi Inthanon.

Park Headquarters & Main Campsite :

Doi Inthanon HQ is situated at km 30.8 near the Ban Khun Klang village of Hmong (Meo) tribe. 500 meters west from the HQ there is a market with few restaurants around, there is also an ATM nearby HQ. The camping area and bungalows are 500 meters north from the junction nearly 400 meters east of the HQ. Camping gears can be rent at the entrance to the campsite. There are no restaurants in that area, the nearest options are around the HQ and the market. The smaller options of tents for 3 people costs 250 THB/day while bigger ones for 5 people costs 400 THB/day, sleeping bags, matt and pillows included in the price.

doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon

Trek at Inthanon National Park : For those who are hikers or just want to have a whole new experience to see Thailand then you have to visit the National Park, especially in the winter season! From December to April or May is the most suitable time for trekking as it’s much drier and convenient. In fact, there is a trekking trail just by the side of the Mae Klang waterfalls which leads you all the way to the Tourist Service center. The trail is worth the effort as it gives you the opportunity to admire the wildlife and natural beauty of Doi Inthanon. Other popular trails include the Ang Ka Nature trail, which features a one-of-its-kind ecosystem and the exclusive ambiance of the Himalayas. Next is Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail, which might seem superfluous given its 200 Baht entrance fee per group with a guide (compulsory). However, if you are willing to spend the cash, the jungle trekking is totally worth it. If you hire a guide in Chiang Mai. Keep in mind that the trail is closed from June 1st to October 30th of each year.

doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon
doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon

Hmong Village : If you are interested in taking a peak into the lives of tribal communities of northern Thailand, Doi Inthanon can be your passport to the same. There are many Hmong families living around the base of peaks, who have since then moved from cultivating opium poppies to vegetables and fruits, thanks to the Royal Project. Visit the local markets and enjoy the brightness that sparkles from the smiles as well as outfits of these indigenous people. There are also several Karen villages, such as Ban Mae Ab Nai, where you can purchase fine examples of traditional Karen weaving and textiles and observe the quaint Karen way of life first hand.

doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon

Royal Agricultural Research Station : Doi Inthanon Royal Project is in Khun Klang village close to the park headquarters. The project was initiated in 1979 to help the hill tribes to cultivate cash crops other than opium and train them on modern agricultural practices.  Most produces are temperate zone plants.  Flower plantations, a plant breeding research lab and flower plantations of hill tribes (Hmong) are open to visitors.

 

doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon

Cherry blossoms bloom in Khun Wang : Relax and take in the beautiful Himalayan cherry blossom bloom at Khun Wang royal project. Chiang Mai Royal Agricultural Research Center or Khun Wang royal project is the research center for the farmers in the surrounding Luang Chiang Mai Inthanon mountain ranges, drive 16 kilometres from the Hmong village of Khun Klang that wows visitors with its assortment of fruit plantations, flower gardens and a delicious meal of rainbow trout where the fish sourced fresh from a pond in its compound.

Waterfalls : Doi Inthanon National Park has number of waterfalls, most of them easily accessible from the main road through the national park, only few hundred meters off from the road. The waterflow is good all year round but most impressive during the rainy season May to November. During the cold and hot seasons the water is more clear and more suitable for swimming if possible.

doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon
doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon

Mae Ya Waterfall : Probably the most impressive waterfall in Doi Inthanon National park and missed by many visitors as it is not on the main highway which climbs to Doi Inthanon’s peak. Popular with Thai picnickers who set up at the base of this impressive 260m falls

doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon
doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon

Mae Klang Waterfall : The first waterfall on the main road into the national park, cascading nearly 100 meters high over several tiers with the highest tier nearly 25-30 meters high. It is located 600 meters south of the checkpoint at the southeast part of the park. This waterfall is very popular and can be very busy during the week-end and public holidays.

doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon

Wachiratan Waterfall : The waterfall itself is very photogenic, particularly after the wet season. Blue Whistling Thrush is always present here with at least two subspecies to be seen in the “winter” months; Grey Wagtail is often to be seen foraging amongst the torrent. A little downstream of the falls, where a set of steps leads down to the stream, Slaty-backed Forktail is usually to be found but can be shy so be quiet and still. Plumbeous Water Redstart can also be encountered here but can be very quiet and often sticks to the shadows, so look closely. River Chat will sometimes show up here too if there is no disturbance, but it is more likely to be spotted on the falls. It is worth spending an early morning or late afternoon here to see this bird undisturbed as its colours are wonderfully vivid.

doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon

Sirithan Waterfall : One of popular waterfalls, at km 22, accessible by a 200 meters long trail from the parking area on the main road. This rather beautiful and large waterfall has a small car park and a trail leading to its viewing platform. This offers a great view of the water pouring over the lip and often provides sightings of River Chat. Grey Wagtail and Blue Whistling Thrush should both be seen and by walking down to the water from the platform Plumbeous Redstarts can be found. When the water is low it is possible to make ones way downstream by climbing along the rocks providing access to the forest for the adventurous.

doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon

Siriphum Waterfall : This waterfall can be accessed by following the road to the campsite and turning left when the school is to one’s right. Follow the signs to the base of the falls. This is a good place for River Chat and Plumbeous Redstart as are other waterfalls on Doi Inthanon; this one is much less often visited by birders however. There is a trail which follows an irrigation channel which can produce some nice birds, but beware of the slippery flagstones.

doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon
doi inthanon, inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon

Bori Chinda Cave : This impressive limestone cave has a gigantic entrance chamber and tower and a second huge chamber with a skylight opening to the surface. It can be reached in about one hour from the main road, or in less time if the beginning portion of the route is cycled. Bori Chinda Cave is around a 2-hour walk from the Mae Klang Waterfall. Alternatively, you can drive up the cave which takes only 10 minutes. The splendid views of the caves dazzling in the sunlight are worth the trip.

How to Getting there :

Travel 58 kilometres west of Chiang Mai via Hwy 108 to Chom Thong, then turn right into Hwy 1009 and continue a further distance of 48 kilometres along Hwy 1009 to the summit. A good asphalt road takes visitors up, but is rather steep, thus the vehicle must be in a good condition. Visitors pay an entrance fee at km8. The entrance fee is 300 THB for foreigners (children 150 THB) and 50 THB for local tourists (children 20 THB).

  • Join in tour : A minibus tour will cost around 1,100-1,200 baht with an English-speaking guide. The trip includes a visit to the peak, two waterfalls, twin chedis, a royal development project, and a Karen village (somewhat uninspiring). The price includes all entry fees. The tour is from approximately 08:30 to 16:30. All fees and a so-so lunch are included and you will be picked up and dropped off at your hotel.
  • Private tour is suitable for clients who don’t like to specify the activity time and follow on the join in group tour. You would feel more comfortable, enjoy, relax and private on the trip.
  • By local taxi or Red taxi : A songthaew (two bench pickup truck) will cost you about 2,500 – 3500 baht for the day, including petrol.
  • By renting the Motorbike.

Nearby Places

Phra That Si Chom Thong is one of the most important shrines in Chiang Mai Province as it houses a holy Buddha relic. Normally, relics are buried inside a chedi, however, here it is enshrined inside a container in the main hall. This relic is believed to part of the right side of the Buddha’s head. This is an important shrine for people born in the Year of the Rat. As Doi Inthanon is nearby, you could combine a trip to the highest mountain in Thailand with this temple.

Pha Chor Nature can create many unexpected wonderful things. The passing of time can change the topography of a place and can create strange sights. Pha Chor is a natural phenomenon of eroded soil pillars. It is believed that this used to be the Ping River watercourse. When the river changed route the site became a hill from the river sediment that piled up into layers. When time passed, it eroded and became cliffs and soil pillars of strange shapes.