Doi Inthanon National Park (a day trip from Chiang Mai)
Chiang Mai has a lot to offer, and it is one of the most visited places in Thailand. It a piece of information I came across when I was researching my next tour. However, I was looking to visit one of the National parks. After my research, I came across Doi Inthanon National Park.
In my personal list, Doi Inthanon National Park is second only to Khao Sok National Park!
It is a vast Park! Hence, there are a lot of things to do. This post will tell you about a day trip from Chiang Mai to Doi Inthanon National Park.
Doi Inthanon National Park, nicknamed “Thailand’s roof,” is located in the Thanon Thong Chai Range, Chom Thong District,
Chiang Mai Province, northern Thailand. It was established in 1972 and had a size of 482 square kilometers (186 sq mi). The Park is about 60 kilometers (37 mi) from Chiang Mai.
The Park covers some 4,500 villages of Karen and Meo Hmong. Its height ranges from 800 to 2,565 meters (2,625 to 8,415 ft).
There are several waterfalls within its borders: Mae Klang Falls, Wachiratan Falls, Siriphum Falls, and Mae Ya Falls. The Park has different climatic and ecological sections.
About Doi Inthanon National Park
Doi Inthanon has always been one of Thailand’s most famous national parks.
It is renowned on higher elevations for
- Its waterfalls
- many scenic hiking trails
- remote villages
- picturesque mountain farms
- sunrise/sunset watching
- bird watching
- cold weather all year round
The entrance to the Park is about 70 km southwest of downtown Chiang Mai.
Often known as Thailand’s Roof, Doi Inthanon National Park covers an area of 482 km2 in northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai province.
The Himalayan mountain range is part of the Park, with elevations between 800 and 2,565 meters above sea level. The Park has year-round high humidity and cold weather.
The Park is named in honor of King Inthawichayanon, one of Chiang Mai’s last kings, who was concerned and wanted to preserve the forests in northern Thailand. His remains were placed in the Park after his death as he ordered, and Doi Inthanon was renamed the forest.
The flora of the Park consists of moist evergreen cloud forests, sphagnum bog in the lower elevations above 1,800 meters asl, dry evergreen, pine, mixed deciduous teak, and dipterocarp forests.
Rainfall is around July to September; the rainy season is May to October. With colder weather around November to February, the rest of the year is quite dry.
How to get to Doi Inthanon Park
The Park is a few in the country that can be accessed by public transport, but getting there can be a little challenging because one songthaew has to be changed to another.
Once in the Park, the distances between the attractions are significant, not easy to walk between, unless you’re on the road for very long, challenging walks.
Slower songthaews are passenger vehicles adapted from pick-up and truck, which are the only option for public transport.
If lucky with timings, reaching the Park from Chiang Mai with songthaews takes at least 2.5-3 hours, but often longer because of waiting.
The entrance point to the National Park is through a checkpoint at km 8 of the 1009 rural road accessible from Chiang Mai Highway 108 southwest. A further 22 km inside the Park is the visitor center and headquarters.
How to get around in the Doi Inthanon National Park?
Visitors need a car or a bike due to the vast distances between the attractions. Trying to walk between the attractions along the main road will be a poor decision.
Avoid visiting Doi Inthanon National Park during longer holidays like Songkran and other long weekend holidays! Why do I say that? Because during holidays is when ten thousand people visit the Park, creating a long traffic jam inside the Park.
During weekends, the Park is typically much busier, with fewer people visiting the Park during the weekdays.
Doi Inthanon Park Entrance fees & opening times
To foreigners, the entrance fee is 300 Baht. (children 150 Baht) and local visitors (children 20 Baht)
- Cars pay for 30 Baht, 20 Baht is for bicycles.
The Park is opened all year round, including on public holidays. But! Very important to consider before you go:
The Park’s main trail -Kaew Mae Pan Trail- is closed for annual forest recovery reasons for visitors from June to October.
The Park is open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
The best tours to book to get Doi Inthanon Park
Doi Inthanon National Park Small-Group Full-Day Tour
Visit the highest point in Thailand at Doi Inthanon National Park, above the Chiang Mai Mountains. Find tranquility at the beautiful Sirithan and Wachiratharn waterfalls cascades and explore Sobhad Village’s Karen Tribe community.
What to expect?
- Visit Thailand’s highest point in Doi Inthanon National Park, above the Chiang Mai Mountains
- Discover tranquility in the breathtaking waterfalls of Sirithan and Wachiratharn
- Join a Karen Tribe in Sobhad Village, where you can help the local community learn more about their culture and lifestyle
- Experience the comfort of a small group tour with a total of 9 participants.
Get picked up for a day from your hotel in downtown Chiang Mai to explore one of Thailand’s original national parks and Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain.
Fit for both explorers and cultural enthusiasts, this tour features picturesque scenery, remote villages, and spectacular viewpoints.
The first stop is the Wachirathan Waterfall, one of the country’s largest and most spectacular waterfalls.
The energy of this waterfall, over 80 meters high, produces a cooling mist that feeds the plants around it.
The next stop is the impressive 50-meter waterfall, fed by the Mae Klong River by Sirithan Waterfall.
You will then stop at the famous twin pagodas: the Don Napamatanee and Bhumisiri Napaphon.
They are built for the Royal King and Queen and are located at Thailand’s highest point. The final stop is a local visit to the Karen Tribe.
Learn a little about the culture and way of life of people in their village of Sobhad in the hill tribes.
Hike Tour in Kiew Mae Pan Natural Trail from Chiang Mai
Drive along Kiew Mae Pan Natural Trails on the Eco Walk and visit Thailand’s highest peak with Chiang Mai’s last King’s Stupa.
More! It will be an opportunity to enjoy a day in nature on the rice terrace at Mae Klang Luang (Karen) Village.
Kiew Mae Pan is one of Thailand’s most beautiful natural treasures and trails, where the refreshing, fresh mountain air awaits you at Inthanon National Park. This trail is only open to visitors from November to May and is also a popular local hiking trail.
Get to visit Wachirathan Waterfall and Karen Village at Doi Inthanon, considered the highest mountain in Thailand, after a morning pick-up from your hotel in Chiang Mai Town.
You’ll get to sample some fresh coffee right from the plantation when visiting this village.
After that, the Royal Project Restaurant will serve your lunch. Products from the Queen’s farming projects are transformed into delicious meals here.
After lunch, walk2.5-3 kilometers along the Kew Mae Pan Nature trail through the beautiful green forest, passing giant rhododendrons, waterfalls, and streams leading to a cliff where you can enjoy amazing views of the mountains.
Then drive to the highest peak and follow the Angka Natural Trail for a short walk (15-20 minutes).
On the way back, get to stop at Phra Maha Dhatu Nabha Metaneedol and Nabhapol Bhumisiri, well known as the Two Royal Stupas that were built for their 60th birthdays respectively to honor King Bhumibhol and Queen Sirikit of Thailand.
Return late in the afternoon to Chiang Mai.
Doi Inthanon National Park Full-Day Tour
You’ll spend a day at Doi Inthanon National Park on this tour and immerse yourself in the rich, natural bounty of northern Thailand.
Seeing the Wachiritharn Waterfall will be an opportunity to get incredible panoramic views of the Park from the chedis of the King and Queen (Buddhist stupas).
Furthermore, Make it to the perch of the highest peak in Thailand and take in the vast expanse of forest and greenery.
Doi Inthanon National Park will allow you to roam along the Angkha Nature Walk and explore His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s Royal Agricultural Station in Inthanon.
Choose a trouble-free pick-up at your hotel from all properties in and around Chiang Mai city center, meet your guide, before heading to the vast forest bounty of Northern Thailand with a day at Doi Inthanon National Park.
You will begin the tour with a visit to the top of Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand, where a spectacular view awaits.
Then walk along the Ang Ga trail and engage yourself in the lush landscape of the highlands of the forest.
Continue to the King and Queen’s chedis, where you will find some of the Park’s best views, and take a trip to the Hmong village market right before you go to a local restaurant for lunch.
You’ll be able to explore the Royal Agricultural Station Inthanon plantations after a hearty meal and see the Vachiratarn Waterfall.
You will stop by Wat Phrathatsrijomtong, one of the oldest and most famous Buddhist temples in North Thailand. At last, you will need to return to your meeting point or hotel as the end of the trip.
What to do and see in Doi Inthanon National Park
The Highest Point in Thailand
You’ll start by driving up to “The Roof of Thailand” about 2.5 KM above sea level. Snap a picture at the highest point marking massive sign, and then move on quickly. The trail is well paved around this spot and takes you through shaded (and very chilly) parts of the forest.
Don’t be surprised if you bump along the path into Buddhist monks–it should only take you about 15 minutes for the whole thing. Ask your driver at the end of the trail to meet you.
Angkha Nature Trail
The entrance to this trail is conveniently located at the end of the previous trail. It will take you only about 15 minutes to walk from the beginning to the end (360 meters). The mossy wooden path is tranquil and calm (or creepy, depending on how you look at it!).
Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail and Waterfall
This nature trail describes how to get off the beaten track in Chiang Mai. To me, both times I went on a Doi Inthanon day trip, Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail was the highlight; indeed, the first time I walked this trail was a complete accident!
Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail is only around 3 km long and is a relatively easy walk with many places to tour, and after getting tired, there are places you can sit down and catch your breath. Only with a guide is available, and the fee is 200 Baht. The trail offers 21 stations with detailed plant and ecosystem explanations as well as several incredible viewpoints.
Royal Pagodas and the Gardens
The splendid pagodas are just a few minutes drive from the Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail. Phra Mahathat Napha Methanidon, and Phra Mahathat Naphaphon Bhumisiri, the pagodas are designed to commemorate King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s birthdays and his Queen’s birthdays.
They are surrounded by a beautiful garden with stunning foxgloves and a lot of butterflies (and bees). In this section of the Park, there is an additional entrance fee of 40 Baht.
The waterfalls of Doi Inthanon are quite impressive. Wachirathan is incredibly easy to reach beautiful dual stream waterfall–it’s just stepping away from the parking lot.
If you’re visiting Chiang Mai’s Doi Inthanon National Park, it’s a must-see! The mountain waterfall is famous for tour groups, so don’t be surprised to see a few people here. Unfortunately, there is no permission to swim here.
Slightly less popular but still beautiful, from the main road, Sirithan Waterfall is a short walk down. A viewing platform is quite far from the waterfall itself, so think about bringing a zoom lens.
Mae Ya Waterfall
Mae Ya Waterfall Mae Ya is probably Doi Inthanon National Park’s most popular waterfall for visitors. Get up close to this waterfall to get that milky look. You can take some long exposure shots. So it’s not unusual for drivers to ask for an extra 500 Baht, and to get to the viewing platform, you’ll need to walk 600 meters or so from the parking lot. Don’t miss Mae Ya on Doi Inthanon’s day ride!
Where to stay at Doi Inthanon National Park
While most people are visiting Doi Inthanon National Park on day tours, the Park is best enjoyed over a few days.
With many beautiful natural attractions to explore, you’d want to take your time to enjoy the Park’s beauty. Here are some options for accommodation in Doi Inthanon National Park:
Not to worry, you’re not going to camp in the wild! The campsite is about 500 meters from the headquarters of the Doi Inthanon National Park. Don’t worry; you’re not going to have to lug your camping gear from home.
From the headquarters of the Park, you can rent tents, sleeping bags, and other camping gear. A three-person tent costs around THB 225 per day (~US$7), while sleeping bags cost about 60 THB (~US$2).
Bungalows are also about 500 meters from the headquarters of the Doi Inthanon National Park, as the camping grounds. You can also choose a selection of different sizes of cottages that fit your budget. The bungalow’s price ranges from THB 1,000 (~$31.50) to THB 6,500 (~$205).
Bungalows can be booked upon arrival, but can also be booked in advance via the DNP website. It is difficult for tourists to book a bungalow in advance, however, as payment must be made using a Thai bank account.
If you still want to book a bungalow ahead of time, when you land in Thailand, you can also settle the payment at a convenience store or bank.
Doi Inthanon national park without a tour
You can rent a car or scooter if you are willing to drive on the roads of Thailand. It, no doubt, helps you to prepare your itinerary as efficiently as possible.
During the ride, GPS systems or Google Maps are your best friends. But be advised that the road to Doi Inthanon is packed with twists and sharp turns, being located in a mountainous region.
Keep left, especially when driving around blind turns. If you’re going through a scooter, make sure you’re appropriately dressed for the cold winds, like gloves.
But joining a tour group is the most comfortable and most reliable option.
Tour groups can be easily found on trusted travel websites of third parties or offered by Chiang Mai accommodation.
If you want more freedom to visit attractions in Doi Inthanon National Park, you can choose to rent a Chiang Mai car and driver. Remember that you will have to tell your driver which attractions you want to stop in advanced as prices that differ by distance.
The price ranges from US$ 75 to US$ 100 for a day trip by a tour group or private hire.
How long does it take to hike Doi Inthanon?
The whole hike takes approximately 2 hours or 1.5 if you are a fast walker. Remember, the park is482 square kilometers (186 sq mi) in size.
Can you drive to Doi Inthanon?
Yes, you can hire a car or private driver and drive to Doi Inthanon National Park. It takes around an hour and a half’s drive to get from Chiang Mai to Doi Inthanon National Park.
How far is Doi Inthanon from Chiang Mai?
The Park is approximately 60 kilometers (37 mi) from Chiang Mai, and the Park is 482 square kilometers (186 sq mi) in size.
Doi Inthanon National Park Tour package
Doi Inthanon national park tour is a full-day tour that takes you Thailand’s highest peak. It features some of the most beautiful natural sights in Thailand.
There, you can visit two impressive waterfalls, a hill tribe farming village, and the stunning twin King and Queen Royal Pagodas.
These mirrored buildings sit atop the mountain. Manicured flower gardens surround them with jaw-dropping views of the valley below.
You can also enjoy a relaxing nature trail walk before reaching the highest point in Thailand. Day times temperatures can be surprisingly cold, so do not forget a long sleeve jumper.
Near the top, you will take the Angkha nature walk where you can walk amongst the unique flora and forest at this altitude.
There are both Karen and Hmong villages in the bounds of Doi Inthanon! You will see a Karen village and those at the local market on the way down the mountain before making your way back to Chiang Mai.
A vast majority of visitors come to the Park to take in the views from the summit (accessible by car)! Yes, but it is the surrounding forests, waterfalls, stupas, and nature trails that make this place one of Thailand’s most spectacular national parks.
Birdwatchers flock to the Park in hopes of spotting some of its 362 species of birds, while other visitors come to picnic and swim at Mae Klang Falls.
Doi Inthanon National Park is pleasant to visit all year, as its mild climate makes it cool even during the hot season.
During the winter or cold season, Doi Inthanon is a pleasant place to hike as the air is crisp and fresh. So, be ready to enjoy the magnificent views of the valley and a different feeling from Chiang Mai or other smaller mountains.
During the raining season, the lush nature and blue sky make the area just stunning. It is rarely raining the entire day, as there is more often a tropical downpour followed by sunshine again.
Beautiful views and excellent color contrasts make this the best season for avid photographers.
Experience Doi Inthanon National Park on this tour, ensure you come along with your walking shoes, a light raincoat or poncho, especially during the rainy season, Hat and sunglasses, and an excellent camera to capture amazing moments during this tour.