Doi Inthanon National Park
Home to the highest point in Thailand and several fantastic waterfalls, Doi Inthanon National Park is a must see when visiting Chiang Mai. To fully appreciate the park, an overnight stay is recommended.
At a height of 2,565 metres,
Doi Inthanon is officially the tallest mountain in Thailand. The park was created in 1954 along with 13 others, creating the first group of national parks in Thailand. The main attractions are the summit, and nature trails just below. There are also several significant waterfalls in the area, Mae Ya is the largest waterfall in the park, and a contender for the most spectacular waterfall in Thailand. Other notable waterfalls are Wachirathan, Mae Klang, Sirithan, Mae Pan and Huay Saai Lueang.
The park is conveniently located just an hours drive south of Chiang Mai City. Most people take day trips to Doi Inthanon which can be booked from the old city in Chiang Mai, these are ok if you are short of time, but you need at least 2 days to fully appreciate both the area around the summit, and the waterfalls. Accommodation in the park consists of national park bungalows and campgrounds, privately owned campsites and small privately owned bungalow style resorts.
Cool temperatures, fresh mountain air, and stunning views make Doi Inthanon National Park the perfect place for camping under the stars. Camping in Doi Inthanon consists of national park campgrounds and privately owned camps. All have good facilities such as toilets, showers and simple restaurants.
Royal agricultural project
The national park campgrounds are located next to the royal agricultural project, not far from the start of the summit road, and another one near Huai Saai Lueng and Mae Pan Waterfalls. The campground next to the waterfalls is great for people who are hiking the fantastic jungle trails in the area. Tents, mats and sleeping bags are available to hire from the lodges at both campsites.
The best views
From the temple slightly further down the mountain, where there are two attractive chedis, and manicured gardens. There is also a nature trail called Kew Mae Pan which is slightly further down the road from the temple, there are spectacular views from here, the trail is 2.8 km long and although short, it is considered to be one of the best walks in Thailand.
Just below the carpark at the summit there is nature trail called Ang Ka which is a board walk around 400 metres long. It leads through the highest swamp in Thailand and is a fantastic birdwatching site attracting birders from all over the world. The main feathered attractions are the greentailed sunbird, the chestnut-headed minla, and the shy-throated warbler. The forest tree’s are covered in moss with ferns, orchids and a whole host of other damp loving plants providing an enchanted scene looking more like a movie set. Occasionally small mammals such as leopard cats and rodents can be seen hiding in the foliage.
Due to the height, Doi Inthanon has a weather system of its own and can feel cold throughout the year. It is recommended to bring warmer clothes to the summit of Inthanon such as a lightweight jacket or fleece, and walking trousers. Anyone who is riding a motorbike to the summit will definitely need warmer clothes, and gloves are recommended in the cool season.
The mountain views are best seen in the cool season from November to March when the sky is clear and blue. During the height of the rainy season the view will be mostly cloudy but does clear from time to time. Kew Mae Pan nature trail is closed from 1st June – 31st October. These are not major disappointments as you can spend more time at Inthanons waterfalls which are a must-see during the wet season, and you will have them mainly to yourselves as there are far less tourists around.