Doi Inthanon, known as “The Roof of Thailand” is a beautiful national park located in the Himalayas. It serves as the gravesite of King Inthawichayanon, the royal ecologist of the 19th century who loved the natural beauty of the Himalayas so much, that he ordered its preservation.
Today Doi Inthanon National Park in Chiang Mai is one of the best nature escapes in Thailand and is totally worth it if you go to Chiang Mai!
How to get to Doi Inthanon National Park
Doi Inthanon covers an area of approximately 186 square miles, and it’s located 37 miles from Chiang Mai, but the visitor center is 22 miles inside the park. Tourists can take public transportation to reach it and within the park, however, these vehicles are slow and irregular. If you want to save time and visit everything you want, you’ll have the option to rent a car and make your own itinerary.
Many tours are available for those who want a guide and most of them include transportation. Prices in the region are reasonable, starting from around $50 for group tours, and $100 for private tours. Each comes with its own perks, such as trekking and hiking, birdwatching, interactions with elephants, or observing the local arts & crafts. Bikes and scooters are available for rent inside the park.
Where to stay in Doi Inthanon?
Those who want to get the full experience and spend the night in the park, might wander where to stay. The campsite is the best decision if you want to observe the wildlife at night. The guest center even offers gear for rent to those who need it.
The Doi Inthanon bungalows are often booked, but fortunately they can only be booked from the visitor center, so you might have a chance. There are plenty of restaurants all over the park, as well a market.
Best time to visit Doi Inthanon
Doi Inthanon National Park is open to visitors year round, even though it is chilly all the time. One of the best times of the year to visit is in late January when nature gifts tourists and locals with a pink spectacle. Cherry blossoms only last for a few weeks, so you have to time your visit accordingly.
If you want to embark on a journey on the hiking trails, you must keep in mind one of them, Kew Mae Pan is closed from June to October. The months between May and October bring the rainy season, so hiking might be difficult and muddy, but it’s the best time to visit the waterfalls, as the higher volume of water makes them more impressive. Temperatures in general vary depending on altitude, so bring warm clothes either way.
The park is rich in wildlife, with over 500 species of mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles, making it one of the best spots for birdwatching. Among the animals you can spot are various species of parrots, monkeys, bats, leopards, falcons, and much more.
Waterfalls are probably the main landmarks in the park. Sirithan Waterfall unfortunately can’t be visited up close, but tourists can still admire it from a wooden platform. The Siriphum Waterfall is one of the most impressive ones in Doi Inthanon, especially during the cherry bloom season. Mae Ya Waterfall is one of the widest and most beautiful waterfalls in Thailand. The best thing about it is that you can bathe in it and have some splashing fun.
Even though Doi Inthanon covers an impressive area and can’t be visited on foot, there are two beautiful hiking trails you can take, preferable with a guide.
Kew Mae Pan Trail is the longer one, around 1.5 miles, offering one of the best sights of your surroundings. Hiring a guide is a must. Ang Ka Luang Trail is shorter, but highly recommended for bird watching, as it goes through thick forest.
Every tourist must visit the highest point of Doi Inthanon, the tallest peak in Thailand, which reaches 214 ft. Both of the trails mentioned will take you to the top, and the best thing is that you can watch the sunset or the sunrise over the Himalayas.
Another popular place to watch the sunset is from the location of the Twin Pagodas, also known as the Two Chedis. The beautiful monuments can be visited inside, and they are surrounded by colorful flower gardens.
What else can you do at Doi Inthanon?
The local population is a great source to learn the history and the culture of this place. Villages such as Mae Klang Luang and Khun Klang Hhong will allow you to take a glimpse at the life of the farmers. You can support the local economy by eating lunch at one of the local establishments.
Khun Klang Hhong Village is the location of Inthanon Royal Project, a stretch of gardens and greenhouses that serve as a research and conservation center, as well as an agricultural center. It offers many educational activities for tourists who are interested in learning more about Doi Inthanon and traditional farming. The fee to enter the park is $10, half for children. Other fees are required for guides and accommodations.