Doi Inthanon National Park
in Northern Thailand

Inthanon Mountain Pagodas

Don't tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled - Mohammed

Now is a golden opportunity to visit Doi Inthanon National Park in Chiang Mai's northern province of Thailand. And this should surely be on your cards when touring this enchanting and beautiful land. For it is here where you will experience a place on earth like no other.

Not only will you get to be on some of the highest mountains here, but you will also be able to explore some of the best walking and hiking trails. In addition, you'll get to see the tallest waterfall, paddy fields, grand temples and that's not excluding several hill tribal villages.

The mountain is largely a granite monolith shaped from the southern portion of the Shan Hills range that forms the divide between the Nam Mae Ping river to the east and the Nam Mae Chaem river to the west. On the lower elevations in some parts of the park are limestone formations that contain a number of caves.

Doi Inthanon was known as Doi Luang which means Big Mountain or Doi Ang Ka which means Crow's Pond. Big mountain is not hard to understand, but crow's pond! Well! That's easy enough to explain too! Near the base of the mountain was a pond where crows used to gather. Now can anyone tell me if they still do?

Karen Hill Tribe Girl

The name Doi Inthanon was given to honour King Inthawichayanon who was one of the last kings of Chiang Mai. He was concerned about the forests of the north and made sure that they were well cared for. In doing so, the forests have since flourished to this very day. The king's remains were buried here after his death.

In the mid 1950's the area became a National Park and grew considerably in size during the mid 1970's. It now covers many climatic and ecological different parts and has the second highest number of bird species of any Thai national park.

If you should decide to go all the way to the top, you will find the stately Chedi erected in honour of the present King and Queen of Thailand. From here you will be afforded some magnificent views of the surrounding hillside, fauna and flora.

Strawberry Fields at Doi Angkhang

Doi Inthanon National Park - Waterfalls

One of the most breathtaking waterfalls is Mae Klang Waterfall which you'll find right beside the park entrance. It's easily accessible from an area where cars, buses and bikers park. This one cascades down hundreds of metres of rock face before entering a stream or river of sorts. It's a popular place to be.

Lots of Thai visitors come here for their weekend picnics. You will find them relaxing on roughly made loungers gently hanging over the river. This is a great spot where you can also stop over for a bite to eat at one of the stalls selling cool drinks, fresh fruit, barbecued chicken or whatever else takes your fancy.

Siriphum Waterfall is another spot that runs up the mountain close to the main road where you can go swimming. It is near the ranger's station and a campsite. Drive further up the mountain on the way to the peak and you will see numerous waterfalls on both sides of the road. Probably the most spectacular to explore is the Mae Yai Waterfall which cascades down about 100 metres of rock face.

Halfway up or halfway down (whichever way you see fit) Doi Inthanon is the Wachiratan Waterfall which plunges over a 40 metre drop and cascades down to a cool pool where you are welcome to take a plunge and enjoy a great swim.

Wachiratan waterfall

Doi Inthanon National Park - Hill Tribes

The Karen Hill Tribe Village at Ban Pha Mon is well worth a visit where you will get to see some of the young girls weaving brightly coloured cloth which you are welcome to purchase. Just up the road from the ranger's station is a Hmong Hill Tribe Market, which sells produce from the Royal Project and Hmong villages around Mae Chaem. Actual Hmong hill tribe people live there and it is worth a stopover to see and photograph their colorful embroidered clothes.

Karen Hill Tribe Girl at Work

Doi Inthanon National Park - The Climate

The park is a one and a half drive southwest of Chiang Mai and covers an area of 48,240 hectares. The lowlands below 800 metres can be somewhat warm and often very dry during the rain-free season, but the summit at 2,565 meters has a much cooler climate. During much of the year, the temperature at the top has an almost alpine sub-zero feel to it and it is known to drop as low as minus eight degrees Celsius at times. Even frost is not unusual during the cool, dry season.

January is the coldest month of the year when temperatures can get as low as five or six degrees Celsius. Even rainfall can be considerably higher at altitudes above the 1000 metre mark than in the lowlands. During the dry season between November and April there can be persistent mist, cloud coverage and occasional rain for parts of the day. This may be a comfort from the heat of the lowlands.

Hmong Hill Tribe Children

You may also like to visit these National Parks

Khao Sam Roi Yot is a small coastal park located on the narrowest part of the Thai peninsular overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. Its interior is home to animals such as monitor lizards and macaque while the wetlands provide a sanctuary for migratory birds from Siberia. Read More...

Khao Lak stretches across several scenic strips of sandy upper Andaman coastline. The region is particularly famous for its spectacular scenery of steep rain forested ridges that extend down to the coast. An elephant trek to one of the waterfalls is a must. Read More...

Khao Sok is the largest and most dramatic tract of virgin rain forest in southern Thailand. The peaks rise to spectacular heights while the forest helps protect the population of elephants, bison, jungle cats, wild dogs and other endangered animals as well as bird species. Read More...

Khao Yai is the oldest park in Thailand and encompasses a mix of evergreen and deciduous tree forest with grasslands and scrub as its secondary growth. Wildlife roams its interior, including endangered species such as elephants, tigers, leopards, white-handed gibbons and sambar stags. Read More...

Khao Phra Taew National Park is located on Phuket Island in southern Thailand. It is the island's last main outpost and primary evergreen rain forest. Within the national park there are several waterfalls and it's also a home to the Gibbon Rehabilitation Center. Read More...

Ang Thong is a small group of islands spread over part of the Gulf of Thailand west of Ko Samui. The region is popular for its beautiful beaches, limestone caves and abundant wildlife. Canoeing and snorkeling among the coral reef is a major attraction. Read More...

Ko Tarutao is an archipelago near the islands of Langkawi in the Andaman Sea. Its dive sites are considered to be among the best in the world. There's a rich concentration of tropical fish and whale sightings as well as dugongs and dolphins are a common sight. Read More...

Return from Doi Inthanon National Park to North Thailand 

Return from Doi Inthanon National Park to National Parks

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