Doi Inthanon – The Complete Guide for Tourists

Located to the far north of Thailand in the Chom Thong District of Chiang Mai Province, the Doi Inthanon Mountain rises to a height of 2565 meters, is the highest mountain in Thailand, and seems to tell the Thai people that it is there to protect them. The mountain is a veritable treasure house of activities for tourists provided by the Doi Inthanon National Park, monuments known as Chedis dedicated to Their Royal Majesties, the Royal Project, quaint tribal villages, four beautiful natural hiking trails, Brichinda Cave and the magnificent scenery of the valley from atop the mountain. Besides, the mountain region is modernistic with the Ping River housing the Bhumibol Dam supplying power to the Thais.

Doi Inthanon National Park

Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand

The Doi Inthanon National Park represents the beauty and ethos of the mountainous region of Thailand. It showcases its majestic rivers, waterfalls, tropical forests and a habitat that is home to 362 species of birds and a wide variety of 466 animal species and 1274 plant species. The park is a dream bird sanctuary for bird watchers.

The park is also famous for its local Northern Hill Tribes living amidst the serenity of the park and the hustle and bustle, of modern tourism.

How to get to Doi Inthanon National Park

The Doi Inthanon National Park is about 89km west-southwest of Chiang Mai by road requiring 120-150 minutes of travel on route 1013 from Chiang Mai. Tourists can also take route 108 up to Khuang Pao for 65 Km, and from Khuang Pao, they can take route 1009 for 58 Km to reach the park.

Doi Inthanon National Park Map

Doi Inthanon National park Map

Doi Inthanon camping

Doi Inthanon camping

Camping is quite enjoyable because of the simple procedures to follow. All you need to do is to pay your entrance fees and contact the Main Camp Headquarters. You will find all the necessary details including a price list to help set up your camp. The camping costs are reasonable. For 400-600 baht, you can get a tent for 3 people, sleeping bags, pillows, and mats including the use of camping facilities.

The Camping Grounds at Doi Inthanon National Park are very beautifully set, amidst tall pine trees. The facilities include hot shower and bathroom beside hygienic toilets. Power is available for charging electronic items. If you are one of those into cooking, you can get your food at the nearby restaurants. You can also get wooden cabins for rent if you are not up for tent pitching.

Doi Inthanon national park entrance fee

Doi Inthanon National Park entrance

There are several kinds of fees and charges as follows:
Adult – Foreigners 300 baht (about US$9); Locals – 50 baht
Children – Foreigners 150 baht; Locals – 20 baht
Vehicles – Car – 50 baht; Motorcycle – 20 baht
Entrance to Royal Pagodas – 40 baht per person

Doi Inthanon national park opening hours

The park is open from 5.00 AM to 6.00 PM every day of the week.

Doi Inthanon weather

The high altitude of the mountain determines the weather in the region. However, the weather in the area surrounding the mountain is pleasant throughout the year. The region receives almost no rainfall during 4 months of January-April and 3 months of October-December. The 5 months of May-September receive between 180-350 mm of rainfall, peaking in the month of August.

Doi Inthanon temperature

Doi Inthanon climate and tempherature

The average maximum temperature ranges between 25 and 33℃, while the average minimum temperature ranges between 15 and 22℃. The highest temperature occurs during the month of April and the lowest during the months of December and January.

Doi Inthanon snow

Doi Inthanon snow

During the winter season between October and February, the weather goes below freezing point quite regularly with occasional sightings of snow, which in most cases has turned out to be frost.

Great Holy Relics Pagodas

Doi Inthanon pagodas

One of the major attractions in Doi Inthanon is the location of the Royal Twin Pagodas there. Thai Air Force built the pagodas to commemorate the 60th birth anniversaries of their king and queen in 1987 and 1992 respectively. The whole area is a magnificent mixture of modernity laced with spirituality, natural surroundings, tradition, ancestry, and history. You can use the stair to reach the top of the pagodas or the modern escalator.

The Pra Mahathart Napamaythaneedol Chedi and the Pra Mahathart Napapoommisiri Chedi represent the king and queen respectively, and the height of the pagodas at 60 meters commemorates the 60th birth anniversaries of the royals. The pagodas, built with colorful marbles, contain sculptures recounting stories surrounding the Buddhists. The pagodas’ shape and design depict the enlightenment of Lord Buddha and his search for truth. The two pagodas also describe the virtues of the Thai warriors and the beauty of the Thai women through its beautiful patterns, colors, and choice of materials.

The defining attractions are the stupendous gardens and the magnificent view of the valley down below as the location of the pagodas is at the top of the hill. Birdwatchers especially will enjoy this location because of the immense variety of bird species they can spot, more so during the February-April period.

Doi Inthanon waterfalls

The tallest mountain coupled with multiple rivers flowing down the mountain give rise to a number of waterfalls that will enthrall you. Among the several stunning ones, three of the waterfalls stand out- Mae Ya waterfall, Wachirathan Waterfall, and Sriphum waterfall. These waterfalls present an exciting facet as the base forms a thin mist providing an ethereal feeling as well as a thins water spray even if you stand a fair distance from them.

Mae Ya waterfall

Maya Waterfall

This waterfall is the most stunning simply because it is the highest here falling from a height of 100 meters in different tiers. Its location, just at the park entrance, gives visitors a foretaste of the wonder of waterfalls. Apart from the scenic beauty, the waterfall is an excellent place for picnics.

Wachirathan Waterfall

Wachiratan waterfall, Doi Inthanon

This is a beautiful waterfall for swimming, albeit a little chilly. You can find lots of swimming spots, as the height is a gentle 40 meters. The area around the waterfalls is excellent for buying fresh fruit, nuts, candies, and dried fruits. Refreshments such as coffee, Thai food, and drinks are available.

Sriphum Waterfall

Siriphum waterfall

Sriphum Waterfall is the least crowded as its fall varies with the season. The base of the falls hosts gardens with an impressive array of plants and flowers.

Doi Inthanon Peak

Doi Inthanon summit

Doi Inthanon Summit flower

The highest peak, at the height of 2565 meters, in Thailand is a remarkable scenic location offering several grand attractions. The height provides a magnificent panoramic view of the sloping hills with its rugged terrain and lush green forests interspersed with rivers interrupted by at least eight beautiful waterfalls. To view the natural beauty of Thailand, you must visit the summit and enjoy its pristine natural beauty. The area is a protected one, thus enabling visitors a glimpse of the myriad flora and fauna in their natural habitat.

Very low temperatures in Thailand are almost non-existent but the peak allows Thais to experience temperatures below freezing point, as during the cool season temperatures can really plummet.

Royal Thai Air Force weather radar station and Thai National Observatory (TNO)

Thai National Observatory

Amidst the natural beauty of the Doi Inthanon summit and its surroundings, there is a sense of contemporariness and modernity in locating two important scientific institutions taking advantage of the height of the mountainous area.

The Royal Thai Air Force weather radar station monitors the weather as the Doi Inthanon Control and Reporting Center with radar station for travel as well as military applications.

Thai National Observatory, under the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand, hosts the main observatory and an auxiliary station. The station is operational with all facilities and amenities for the employees to conduct their experiments. The station also permits the public to view the permanent exhibition set up there. It is a crucial outreach facility for students to learn about astronomy.

Doi Inthanon trekking and hiking

Doi Inthanon trekking ang hiking

The great height of the Doi Inthanon peak and its lush green forests and rivers and waterfalls make for phenomenal trekking and hiking paradise the likes of which has never been seen in Thailand. The ones that must be experienced are Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail, Doi Inthanon nature Trail are Ang Ka Nature Trail. You can undertake the nature trails or hike only with an experienced guide by paying 200 baht.

Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail

Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail

This is the most famous nature trail covering a distance of about 3 Km. The trail takes you through a kaleidoscope of greenery and trees and rivers and waterfalls dotted with glimpses of the superb blue sky and the floating clouds atop and the serene beauty of the slopes of the mountains and valleys below. The lush green forest area spattered with oak species and moss visible in the first few hundred meters of the trail gives way to the path along the ridge of the mountain offering grand views of the hills through clearing as you move into the middle part of your trail.

Along the home stretch, you will witness the many waterfalls and the many clear water streams that supply the Chao Phraya River – the pride of Thailand that flows through Bangkok from the north to the south. Although the trail is an educative nature trail, it is a bit strenuous for the unfit.

The trail closes during the June-October rainy season.

Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail map

Kew Ma Pan nature trail map

Kew Mae Pan weather

The weather at the top of the mountain is very relaxed throughout the year, and it can reach freezing points often during the cold season. Cold weather clothing is a necessity. Further, the weather can turn misty and cloudy often obscuring the views. The weather would be unbearable during the May-September high rainy season.

Kew Mae Pan Viewpoint

Kew Ma Pan Viewpoint

On a bright day, the view from the Kew Mae Pan Viewpoint is simply breathtaking as it spreads over a vast area allowing sightings of mountain views covered with a mist or sporting drifting cluster of clouds. The sunrise is the scene worth seeing. Secondly, a couple of visits during different seasons would show the stark difference between green during the rainy season to the golden brown in the dry season.

Ang Ka Nature Trail

Ang Ka natural trail on the top of Doi Inthanon

This is a short, but intense 30-minute trail at the top of the mountain at the height of 2500 meters above mean sea level. You will encounter a pond known as the Crow’s Pond, the highest natural water body in the country.

All the nature trails are a rich repository of animal, bird and plant species. If you are lucky, you can spot flowering red rhododendrons or the white orchids. You will find trees such as oaks and black plum. You can feast upon large flying beetles including the purple ones as well as some rare butterflies. For bird watchers, you can probably sight the green-tailed sunbird or the Ashy-throated warbler.

Baan Mae Klang Luang

Baan Mae Klang Luang

Baan Mae Klang Luang is a village inhabited by the Karen hill tribe, migrated from Burma during the 18th century. It is famous because it is the model village promoting ecotourism in Thailand. This village is perfect for a variety of activities that interest connoisseurs of photography, bird watching, trekking, and hiking. The unique thing about this village is that all ecotourism activities come under the responsibility of the hill tribe.

Tourists can get a first-hand experience of staying in the village by checking in to one of the homestay facilities offered by the hill tribe. Besides the village experience, tourists can enjoy their pursuits by exploring the region surrounding the village. The picturesque slopes merging into the paddy fields growing paddy with unique growing methods including drainage systems is a photographer’s dream landscape. The effect is that of nature coalescing with a man.

The specialty of the village is the coffee that is a feast for the taste buds. It’s brew extracted from manually ground beans gives a taste so unique that it appears difficult to find something better elsewhere.

The highlight of the village is the Pha Dok Seaw waterfall

Pha Dok Seaw Waterfall

Waterfalls, which boasts ten different falls with one more beautiful than the other. You can also learn a lot about coffee plantations and flower growing. Being in close proximity to the Doi Inthanon, there are other attractions nearby.

The Royal Agricultural Station Inthanon

The Royal Agricultural Station Inthanon

The Royal Agricultural Station Inthanon is a progressive step by the kingdom to improve the life of Thai tribal people. The primary objective was to divert the people from growing opium to growing other crops suitable for the tribes and the conditions in the area.

The station helps the people to use better cultivation methods, preserve water systems, conserve forests, be self-reliant, and protect animals. A station is also a great place for tourists as there are a number of activities to interest them – cultural, natural and agricultural tours as well as vintage flower gardens.

Doi Inthanon Elephant Park

Doi Inthanon Elephant Sanctuary

The elephant park is a unique one because the elephants stay in their natural habitat without any fetters on the banks of the Mae Klang River. The elephants don’t show off. Visitors can enjoy the elephants by interacting with them subtly. They can feed them or even give them a mud bath. The Asian elephant is an endangered species and preserving them is the number one priority in this sanctuary.

The elephants, rescued elephants mostly, receive medical treatment including medicines, food, and shelter. Besides being an elephant sanctuary, the park takes up other social causes such as promoting organic farming and teaching the English language to local people to enable them to secure career to promote the local environment.

Doi Inthanon accommodation

You can find accommodation situated at a fair distance from the summit (affiliate links – don’t forget to read reviews about these hotels before booking a room):

The alternative is to go camping.

Doi Inthanon by scooter and car

Road to Doi Inthanon

You can hire a car or rent a motorbike from any of the nearby places such as Chiang Mai or Chom Thong. Typically, you can make a day-tour, complete the visit to Doi Inthanon, and return to the place where you started.

You could also make an 8-hour trip from Chiang Mai by a car that includes a scenic drive to Doi Inthanon, all the important points of interest and lunch.
It is better to hire a car rather than a scooter as the roads are winding and the ride involves deep climbing.

You could also either try the day trip by songthaew as a share taxi or hire the vehicle if you are more than a couple. Price for a taxi – 2500THB. The entrance fee is paid separately.

Doi Inthanon tips

There are many points of interest in Doi Inthanon and trying to cover as many as possible is quite strenuous. You can follow the tips provided below to enjoy your trip to Doi Inthanon.

1. If you are not the camping type, it is prudent to start early and leave after sunset because there is no good accommodation other than camping tents.

2. If you are the camping type, then you can arrive in the morning, complete part of the tour, spend the night in the camp tent, and complete the remaining part of the tour the next day and return in the evening.

3. Ensure you keep enough money in local currency to spend in the area.

4. The weather is on the cooler side, and so winter clothes are advisable.

5. The best season is from December to March during the cool season.

6. Bring comfortable shoes suitable for hiking and trekking along the nature trails.

7. Pack some snacks and plenty of water as you may find the food unavailable.

8. If you encounter sunny days, it is better to pack some caps and some sun lotions as well.

9. You may want to bring your swimsuit if you want to swim at the base of some of the waterfalls where the authorities allow swimming.

10. Keep the map of the area on your mobile and completely charge your phone before proceeding on your trip.

The trip to Doi Inthanon is memorable as there are many places of interest and the most important one being the top of the highest point in Thailand from where you can enjoy a panoramic view and the very cool climate.