From hot springs and waterfalls to visiting temples and hiking in the cloud forest, the Doi Inthanon National Park has it all. Located about 70km outside Chiang Mai, this National Park is the perfect getaway from the busy city centre.
Driving from the Chiang Mai city centre really should take you about an hour and a half by car, but if you decide to rent a scooter like us, then prepare for it to take around 2+ hours. The easiest way to get to the park is simply to hire a private driver. It may cost about $75-100USD for the day, but navigating inside the park can be difficult and the roads are narrow, steep and windy. If you do decide to do the scooter option like us then make sure to top off your gas prior to entering the park, as it’s really long and completely uphill with minimal fueling opportunities along the way inside.
Entrance to the National Park is going to cost 300Baht per person. If you are doing a tour to the National Park then this price should be included in your tour price already.
The tallest point in Thailand sits directly in Doi Inthanon National Park. As the highest mountain in the Kingdom, it sits 2,565 km above sea level and is the furthest thing to reach inside the park. Depending on the weather at the time the top can seem rather anticlimactic. As with any mountain, fog is often thick and constricting when trying to get a good viewpoint. When the fog dissipates the views are impressive but don’t stress about spending all your time in this area, as there are cooler places to check out in the rest of the park!
Cloud Forest Hike
Before you rush to leave the summit, make sure you keep an eye out for some of the hiking trails at the top. The forest around the summit area is actually considered a Cloud Forest. Making up only about 0.14 of the remaining tropical forests left on the planet, you may not have another chance to visit and hike one so easily. Peaceful and tranquil the hikes were short, but the views inside were awesome.
For those interested in bird-watching, keep an eye out for the Ang Ka trail, which is a 400 metres long boardwalk. Leading through the highest swamp in Thailand, the bird watching is fantastic and actually attracts visitors from all over the world. A few of the birds you may see if the Green-tailed Sunbird, the Warbler and Chestnut-headed Minla.
Tucked away towards the top of the National Park are the Royal Chedi’s that were built to honour the King and Queen’s 60th birthdays. Constructed by the Thai Royal Air Force, the darker brown-tinted Chedi was built for King Bhumibol Adulyadej and the one with a more purple tint was created for Queen Sirikit. They are known as Phra Mahathat Chedi Nophamethanido (King’s Chedi) and Phra Mahathat Chedi Noppholbhumsiri (Queen’s Chedi) respectively.
These Chedi’s are stunning to see in person, with vast views of Thailand below and the Burma mountains off in a distance. Outside of the Queen’s Chedi are beautifully kept gardens, which make for some great pictures.
Did you know that this National Park has 8 waterfalls that are accessible for visitors to check out? The most common to visit and the easiest to get to is the Mae Klang Waterfall, which is located near the entrance to the park. Some of the other waterfalls you should try and see are the Mae Ya waterfall, Wachirathan waterfall and the Sirithan waterfall, among others.
One area of the park that we really didn’t get to enjoy that I wish we had was the hot springs. There were a few signs throughout the park that pointed towards hot springs, but just seeing the other places listed took us a full day on a scooter. If you get time I definitely recommend checking it out, as it may be a nice change from the other activities in the park.
Doi Inthanon National Park was a special day for us when visiting Thailand. Not necessarily our smoothest or easiest day since we took a scooter, but it’s one will certainly remember from Thailand!