This weekend we hired a mini-van and drove from Chiang Mai to Doi Inthanon National Park – one of the oldest National Parks in Thailand. Doi Inthanon (2,565m) itself is the highest mountain in Thailand and is also known as “The roof of Thailand”.
Due to its elevation, Doi Inthanon offers a wide variety of ecological habitats, and is therefore home to a significant amount of plant and animal species. There are supposed to be nearly 400 bird species (the highest number of any national park in Thailand), black bears, and various different monkey species.
On the lower slopes of Doi Inthanon, near the Karen hill tribe village of Ban Sop Had, are the Vachiratharn waterfalls (named after the Thai Prince), where the river Vachiratharn tumbles over a granite escarpment. We were treated to an amazing view when we arrived here as the water vapour caused by the water cascading over the rocks had formed a striking rainbow – see the photo above.
It was rather cool at the summit (13 degrees C), and there isn’t a notable view from the summit itself, but there are a couple of interesting walks you can do, including the Ang Ka nature trail walk. ‘Ang Ka’ means Crow’s Pond in Thai, and it is considered the highest natural water catchment in Thailand. These walks are particularly interesting as the trees are covered in hanging moss and lichen giving them a unique character.
On the way down the mountain, we stopped at the two Chedis built in honour of the King and Queen of Thailand. It was from here that we got the best views of the surrounding countryside (see photo).
A few friends of ours have previously visited Doi Inthanon from Chiang Mai, and they had told us that they saw relatively little from the summit, as for much of the year the mountain is shrouded in mist. We may have been lucky – or it could have been due the time of year (November) – but the weather and views were superb, helping to make it a really memorable day trip. Highly recommended but check the weather first!
Doi Inthanon is located about 2 and a half hours’ drive South-West of Chiang Mai. Head down highway 108 towards Chom Thong then follow the signs to Doi Inthanon. Foreigners pay 400THB entry to the national park, and residents/Thai people pay 40THB. It is possible to stay the night in cabins at Doi Inthanon National Park – more information on the park and accommodation can be found on the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation department website.