Doi Inthanon National Park: A Perfect Trip from Chiang Mai
Doi Inthanon is a National Park located in North Thailand, near Chiang Mai. Inside the National Park the main attraction is the 2,565 meter high Doi Inthanon Mountain, which is the highest peak in Thailand. Locals, as well as travellers are thrilled by all the impressive landscapes, the gigantic waterfalls, deep jungle, but also by the pleasantly cool temperatures and the great opportunities for hiking and trekking. A special highlight of each trip is the imposing King Pagoda on the mountain, a wonderful temple, which should not be missed on the way up to the summit. So no matter if you get to Doi Inthanon on a day trip from Chiang Mai, on your own by scooter or by rental car this amazing National Park is definitely worth a visit!
This blog post is a comprehensive guide and itinerary for the Doi Inthanon. We give you all important information about the most beautiful things to do, getting there, guided tours from Chiang Mai and why spending a night is highly recommended.
Best things to do at Doi Inthanon
Doi Inthanon is one of the most famous National Parks in Thailand. Not many offer such a wide range of breath-taking attractions and activities. During our trip we had the opportunity to experience a lot of exciting things and to discover really amazing places. Here, in this itinerary, we have summarized the most beautiful spots of our tour and coolest activities while visiting Doi Inthanon National Park.
Mae Ya Waterfall
The Mae Ya waterfall is probably one of the most impressive things to see on a trip to Doi Inthanon. Located inside this national park, but still a bit off the tourist route, this waterfall is one of the most beautiful attractions of North Thailand. So that place is still an absolute insider tip for Chiang Mai. Also we had been so excited about all this natural beauty. From several levels, the Mae Ya Waterfall plunges over 250 meters into the depth and so it is one of the largest waterfalls in Thailand. If you fancy a refreshment just take a swim at the river, or just enjoy the wonderful atmosphere. The Mae Ya waterfall is located in the south of the national park, about 17 kilometres from the main entrance. From the parking it can be reached by a short 20 minute hike leading through a beautiful deciduous forest.
Tip: Go there early in the morning! At that time you can enjoy this roaring force of nature entirely for yourself.
Stay a night at the rice fields
Another highlight of our Doi Inthanon itinerary was the overnight stay in the middle of the rice fields at Chom Thong. For this experience we can give you a special recommendation: the bungalows Nok Chan Mee Na. A wonderful family runs accommodation with camping options, far away from the hustle and bustle and surrounded by beautiful rice terraces. Here you can hang out at the pool, eat delicious Thai food and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. We stayed there for one night, but actually if we had known before we would have stayed even longer.
Tip: Because of its location between Mae Ya Waterfall and Doi Inthanon Mountain, this place to stay is a perfect base for exploring the National Park, especially if you are traveling by scooter or rental car.
Sunrise at Doi Inthanon
Experiencing the sunrise at the highest mountain in Thailand is probably one of the most beautiful thing to do at Doi Inthanon. The best way is to stop at the parking lot of Kew Mae Pan Viewpoint, which is located on the road between the king pagoda temple complex and the highest point of Thailand. At the parking lot locals sells hot soup, hats and gloves. No wonder, the weather at Doi Inthanon is much cooler than in the rest of Thailand. Hard to believe but the temperature can often drop down to 5 degrees. Even though it is scorching hot in Chiang Mai, be sure to pack warm clothes for a tour to Doi Inthanon.
Tip: Sunrise tours to Doi Inthanon are offered from Chiang Mai! Departure is already at 4 o’clock and the national park opens already at 5:30 o’clock. Click here for checking out this tour.
Visiting the Doi Inthanon Temple (King Pagoda)
This wonderful temple is really popular for its two King Pagodas and so it is another top attraction of the national park. Located directly on the way up to the top of the mountain, at an altitude of 2,100 meters, you definitely should stop here for a visit. The temple is an absolute must-see: The 2 modern styled pagodas (Phra Maha Dhatu Naphamethinidon and Naphaphonphumisiri) and the impressive flower garden are really amazing. Escalators will bring you up to the temples from where you can enjoy a breath-taking view over the Doi Inthanon National Park and the pagodas. For a special experience you can visit the temple for sunset.
- Admission: Entrance fee is 50 baht per person. The price is independent of the national park fee.
- Opening Hours: The royal pagodas are open daily from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.
Highest peak of Thailand
The summit of Doi Inthanon, 2,565 meters elevation, is the highest peak in Thailand. Also, up here is always the coolest point in the country. That’s why locals love to visit this special place and enjoy the very cool temperatures. Actually, without any effort, one can reach the summit almost by car. It is located about 50 kilometres from the main entrance. Arriving there, you can do a short hike through the jungle at the summit-trail. While walking, you will enjoy the very fresh air and a beautiful fairy-tale forest with a small temple.
Hiking the Ang Ka Luang Nature Trail
The Ang Ka Luang Nature Trail is one of the absolute insider tips and therefore one of the most beautiful attractions at the Doi Inthanon. It is opposite the summit trail, but nevertheless it’s missed by most tourists. As you walk along the wood trails, you will discover a different world, a mystical and moose-clad jungle, just like out of a fairy-tale. This jungle is a true natural paradise, and we can really recommend a stopover for visiting this evergreen forest. The short hike through the jungle takes just 20 minutes and can be optimally integrated a visit to your national park tour.
Hiking on the Kaew Mae Pan Nature Trail
A bit more demanding, but still quite easy, is the hike on the Kaew Mae Pan Nature Trail. This approximately 3-kilometer circular-path starts at the main road, at the parking lot of the Kew Mae Viewpoint, which we had already visited in the morning for sunrise. On that hike you will walk through a dense forest, past a beautiful waterfall and as a highlight you reach a viewing platform. From there you will get some magnificent views over the Doi Inthanon Mountains.
The hike must be guided by a Hmong tribe guide, who will tell you a lot of interesting facts & info about the national park, flora and fauna. The guide costs 200 Baht and the price can be shared with several persons.
- Opening Hours: The Kaew Mae Pan Nature Trail is open from 06:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Rice fields in the village of Ban Mae Klang Luang
Searching for some beautiful rice fields at Doi Inthanon National Park, we came across the small village of Ban Mae Klang Luang. Unfortunately on our tour in January the rice was already harvested. But especially beautiful are these rice fields in the rainy season from September to early November. Then the terraces will shine in the lush green and certainly you will get amazing photo opportunities! Nevertheless, the stop in the village was lovely and has paid it off. The idyll there is really unique.
An absolute highlight and another top attraction of the national park is the Wachirathan waterfall. It is located almost directly on the main road and is accessible from the parking lot over a very short walk. This roaring waterfall plunges 70 meters into the depth and gives a fantastic motive for pictures. The entrance to Wachirathan Waterfall is included in the National Park fee. Even in the dry season, this waterfall carries gigantic amounts of waters and is definitely one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Doi Inthanon National Park.
The Wachirathan Waterfall and Mae Ya Waterfall, which are mentioned above are not the only waterfalls you can visit at Doi Inthanon. On the road to the summit you have the chance to discover more beautiful natural sites. The Siriphum Waterfall, Pha Khun Na Waterfall, Wang Khwai Waterfall and the Sirithan Waterfall are some more interesting waterfalls that you could explore on your tour.
Important information about the Doi Inthanon National Park:
- Opening Hours: Doi Inthanon National Park opens from 5:30 am to 6:30 pm. Just in time to watch the sunrise from 6:00 clock.
- Admission: The entrance fee is currently 300 baht per person. If you come with your own vehicle like scooter or rental car, then you have to expect a small extra charge of 30 baht.
- Clothing: Warm clothes and good shoes are recommended because of the relatively low temperatures of up to 5 degrees. Weather can change here at Doi Inthanon quickly, so you better bring a rain cover with you.
- Weekend / Holidays: The National Park is also very popular spot for locals, so you can expect many visitors on the weekend and on public holidays. If you have the opportunity, plan your trip to Doi Inthanon on weekdays.
How to get there from Chiang Mai
The mountain is about 100 kilometres away from Chiang Mai and for getting there we can give you the following tips:
Getting there by scooter: With the scooter to Doi Inthanon is probably the most lavish and exhausting option to get to the National Park. Despite a long travel time of at least 2.5 hours (one way), large temperature differences and partly a lot of traffic, some travellers still fancy this adventure. The scooter from Chiang Mai costs around 250 baht per day.
With the rental car: Another option is to go to Doi Inthanon by car. Going there by rental car is considerably more pleasant. That’s why we decided to choose this option. Rental Cars from Chiang Mai can be found here.
Private driver: If you don`t want to drive yourself, you will still have the possibility to organize yourself a private driver from Chiang Mai.
Tours from Chiang Mai
If you are staying in Chiang Mai, you have the opportunity to join a day trip to Doi Inthanon. These group tours usually include pick-up from the hotel, meals and admissions. Whether you like trekking, waterfalls or prefer a private tour – here you will find a wide range of excursions:
Where to stay at Doi Inthanon
There are plenty of accommodations around the National Park, perfect for spending a night or two in Doi Inthanon National Park. Most of the accommodation are in Chom Thong, not far from the park entrance. We recommend following places to stay at Doi Inthanon:
Suan Sook Homestay: A really nice guesthouse not far from Doi Inthanon. Clean rooms, nice hosts and great base for exploring the national park.
Doi Inthanon Riverside Resort: Really nice bungalow complex with large rooms. The pool is also beautiful and offers an idyllic view overlooking the river.
Nok Chan Mee Na: As mentioned above, this property is located right inside a rice field at Chom Thong. The bungalows are really nice and clean. Also the pool with the fantastic view inspires. Absolute recommendation!
Conclusion: The Doi Inthanon is in our opinion one of the most beautiful spots in North of Thailand/Chiang Mai. Especially if you love nature, you like hiking and you really want to experience spectacularly beautiful waterfalls in Thailand, then you should definitely put this national park on your bucket list.
Find the best Accommodation at Doi Inthanon (Chom Thong):
More about Chiang Mai and North Thailand:
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