Climb the highest mountain in Thailand while visiting the Doi Inthanon National Park – a haven for hikers looking to trek through the lush countryside, just 90 minutes from Chiang Mai.
Nicknamed the Roof of Thailand, Doi Inthanon National Park is home to the highest peak in the country – Doi Inthanon – which stands 8,415ft (2,565m) above sea level. Relatively close to Chiang Mai, this area of natural beauty is a popular draw for city slickers looking for downtime – as well as travellers raring to go off the beaten path. Apart from scaling the mountain, you can also trek along the surrounding foothills, where many hill tribes live.
Consider joining Culture Trip’s specially curated tour of Northern Thailand for a guided visit of Doi Inthanon National Park.
Things to do in Doi Inthanon
Be sure to pack sturdy hiking boots because you’re going to be doing a lot of walking in Doi Inthanon. There are several trails you can follow – such as the Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail, a postcard-perfect trek through pristine montane forests. Stop for a photo at the majestic Wachirathan Waterfalls, which comprises several waterfalls in one. Another must-visit is the Mae Klang Waterfall, a smaller but no less beautiful waterfall at the foot of Doi Inthanon.
If you prefer a more challenging trek, try the walk from the Montrathan Falls to Khun Chang Khian village, which stretches across 6mi (10km) and takes about four to five hours. Along the way, look out for the wide variety of flora and fauna, including some native feathered friends. Budding ornithologists: see if you can spot the scaly-sided merganser, black-throated thrush or the collared grosbeak.
During your treks, you may also chance upon villagers tending to their fields, as this area has been home to various hill tribes such as the Hmong and Karen people for hundreds of years. Learn more about their culture by paying a visit to Khun Ya Noi – a Hmong village – or Ban Mae Ab Nai – a Karen village.
Where to stay in Doi Inthanon
There is a selection of modest guesthouses and cosy homestays near the national park, but for those looking to glam it up, check yourself into Doi Inthanon Riverside Resort. With a tranquil location beside the river and surrounded by a leafy garden, this is the perfect place to recharge after a day of trekking. There are just 14 rooms spread out across the property, each tastefully decorated with thoughtful touches such as complimentary bathrobes and slippers. The resort also provides free bicycle hire, which you can use to explore the surrounding countryside. After a sweaty cycle session, cool off in the large outdoor pool that overlooks the river – or take a breather at the restaurant, which specialises in mouthwatering Thai classics.
Best time to visit Doi Inthanon
People don’t often associate Southeast Asia with wintery conditions. However, from November to February, the average daytime temperature at the base of Doi Inthanon hovers around 15C (59F) – sometimes even dropping below 0C (32F) at night. If you’d rather avoid the cold, book your trip between March and June when the weather is warmer. Do note that the farmers burn the fields from mid-February to March in preparation for a new season of crops, so you’ll want to avoid the area then as it gets very smoky.
How to get to Doi Inthanon
There are several options available to reach Doi Inthanon from Chiang Mai. If you fancy a road trip, rent a car and take Route 108 towards Chomthong. After driving for 35mi (57km), turn right onto Route 1009 (Chomthong-Doi Inthanon Road) and 19mi (31km) later, you’ll arrive at the park entrance. The drive is a scenic one and will take you about 90 minutes. For those who prefer to let others do the driving, hop on any of the yellow songthaews parked in front of Pratu Gate of the Old City. If you want a more comfortable ride, book a seat on a minibus tour – which comes with an English-speaking guide.
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