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DOI INTHANON - A Trip to the Top of Thailand

DOI INTHANON

   Doi Inthanon, the highest peak in Thailand, offers a tranquil escape for nature lovers. With its stunning landscapes, diverse flora and abundant fauna, it is a must-visit destination for those seeking a relaxing getaway.

   Standing at 2,565 meters above sea level, Doi Inthanon marks the easternmost endpoint of the Himalayan mountain range that stretches across Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Thailand. During the winter season, the temperature at the summit can drop to 0 degrees Celsius, creating a chilly atmosphere.

   The mountain is home to a unique blend of forests due to the varying temperatures at different altitudes. The lower part of Doi Inthanon boasts plants that thrive in light and heat, while the upper part is adorned with vegetation that thrives in humidity and cold. These forests harbor rare plants, including the enchanting Sphagnum Moss and the beautiful Delavay Rhododendron.

   Doi Inthanon offers a range of nature-related activities for visitors to enjoy. For an adventurous experience, consider hiking to the peak of the mountain. From there, you can embark on a long trek through the surrounding forest, guided by the locals. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to visit Karen and Hmong villages, immersing yourself in their fascinating cultures.

   Near the peak, you’ll find a radar station belonging to the Thai Air Force and a memorial honoring the last ruler of Chiang Mai. Take a leisurely stroll along the nature walk path at Kew Mae Pan to experience the mountain’s flora up close. The path, which is approximately 360 meters long, should take no more than 20 minutes to complete. At the end, you’ll discover an informative museum showcasing the region’s diverse fauna and flora.

   Also, don’t miss the chance to marvel at the two breathtaking Chedis located 5 km south of the main summit of Doi Inthanon. The first Chedi, Naphamethinidon, was built in 1987 to commemorate King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 60th birthday. The second Chedi, Naphaphone Phumi Siri, was constructed in 1992 to celebrate Queen Sirikit’s 60th birthday. A viewpoint nearby offers a picturesque vista of the park’s west side, making it a popular spot to witness heavenly sunsets. Please note that there is an entrance fee of 100 Baht per person to visit these chedis as they are not managed by the park.

   Doi Inthanon is characterized by its granite batholiths and limestone formations, contributing to its majestic beauty. While larger mammal species like elephants, tigers, and gaurs have been extirpated from the park due to poaching and habitat loss, smaller animals like wild boars, gibbons, deer, and serows still inhabit the area. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of serows along the Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail, although sightings are rare. The park is also a haven for birdwatchers, as it is home to unique species such as ashy-throated leaf warblers, dark-breasted rosefinches, and collared grosbeaks.

   A visit to this beautiful mountain can be a delightful day trip or an overnight excursion. The area offers various accommodation options, including camping grounds, resorts, and National Park houses. Make sure to visit the Royal Agricultural Station Inthanon, where you can admire a beautiful garden filled with an array of plants and vegetables. During late January and early February, the Siamese sakura flowers bloom, enveloping the area in a captivating pink hue that lasts for only a few weeks.

   Doi Inthanon is also renowned for its captivating waterfalls. Some offer tranquil pools for a refreshing dip, while others present idyllic shaded spots to relax. It’s important to exercise caution, especially during the wet season, as the waterfalls can become thunderous and the rocks slippery. Nevertheless, witnessing locals enjoying the serene settings is an experience in itself. Don’t miss the magnificent Mae Klang Waterfall, the first waterfall you’ll encounter in Doi Inthanon National Park. It cascades around 25 meters down a steep slope into a picturesque pool. Other notable waterfalls in the area include Mae Ya Waterfall (230 meters high), Sirithan Waterfall, Siriphum Waterfall (next to the Royal Agricultural Station), and Wachirathan Waterfall.


NOTES ABOUT DOI INTHANON:

   If you like camping, you will be happy to know that there are several camping options available. Equipment can be rented at the park for approximately 200 Baht per night.

   When it comes to transportation, the only public option is the slower songthaews, which are passenger vehicles adapted from pickups and trucks. However, reaching the park can be a bit challenging as one songthaew needs to be changed for another. If you’re lucky with the timings, it will take at least 2.5-3 hours to reach the park from Chiang Mai using songthaews. Once you’re inside the park, be prepared for long distances between the attractions. Walking between the attractions can be difficult, unless you’re up for challenging and lengthy walks along the main road. Best maybe to rent a car or buy a one day tour from your hotel’s agency.

   In terms of entrance fees and operating hours, as of June 2022, the entrance fee for Doi Inthanon National Park is 300 Baht for adults and 150 Baht for children between 3-14 years old. Thai citizens pay a reduced fee of 60 Baht for adults and 30 Baht for children. Cars are charged an additional 30 Baht, while bikes are charged 20 Baht.

   The park is open every day, all year round, from 5:30 am to 6:30 pm. However, please note that the main trail of the park, the Kew Mae Pan Trail, is closed every year from June to October for annual forest recovery purposes.


November 2023.

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