About Doi Inthanon
Doi Inthanon is one of the most popular national parks in Thailand, famous for it's number of waterfalls, viewpoints and cool weather.
Also known as "The Roof of Thailand", Doi Inthanon National Park covers an area of 482 km² in Chiang Mai province north of Thailand. The park is part of the Himalayan mountain range, elevation ranges between 800 and 2,565 meters with the highest peak at Doi Inthanon which is the highest mountain in Thailand. The park has high humidity and cold weather all year round. The average daily temperatures are normally around 10-12 °C at the higher elevations.
The park is named in honour of the king Inthawichayanon, one of the last kings of Chiang Mai, who was concerned about the forests in the north of Thailand and wanted to preserve it. After his death his remains was placed in the park as he ordered and the forest was renamed to Doi Inthanon.
The flora consists of moist evergreen cloud forests, sphagnum bog on elevations over 1,800 meters asl, dry evergreen, pine, mixed deciduous teak and dipterocarp forests on the lower elevations.
Due to hunting and habitat change bigger mammals such as elephants, tigers, gaurs has been extirpated from the park decades ago. Some mammals such as wild boars, gibbons, deer and serows still inhabits the park. There are currently around 65 mammals in the national park, half of these bat species. Lucky visitors may see serows along the Kaew Mae Pan Nature Trail.
The Center for Wildlife Research at Mahidol University has recorded total of 362 bird species in the park which makes it in numbers the second highest in Thailand after Kaeng Krachan National Park. Over 190 of the bird species are listed as common to abundant. Some common birds seen in the national park are green-tailed sunbird, ashy-throated warbler, green/purple cochoa, sikkim treecreeper, maroon oriole, bar-throated minla, green-tailed sunbird, rufous-winged fulvetta, chestnut-crowned laughingthrush and speckled/ashy wood pigeons. The big bird migration to Thailand happens March to May with some birds still breeding until June/July makes it a good time to visit the park for birds.
The park is one of the few in the country easily accessible by public transportation, but getting there can be a bit challenging, needs to change one songthaew to another. Once in the park, the distances are big between the attractions, not easy to walk between unless one is up for very long challenging walks. The only public transportation option is slower songthaews which are passenger vechicles adapted from pickup and truck. If lucky with timings, it takes at least 2.5-3 hours to reach the park from Chiang Mai with songthaews, often longer.
See "Get There & Stay" section for more detailed info about how to get to the park.
The main entrance point to the national park is via a checkpoint at km 8 of the rural road 1009 accessible from the highway 108 southwest from Chiang Mai. The visitor center is less than 1 km further in to the park from this checkpoint and the headquarters another 22 km in. The main campsite is around HQ area where tents with accessories are available for rent. Opening times are 5:30am to 6:30pm.
The main attractions of the park are the summit of Doi Inthanon for its great views, several waterfalls, few trails and the two chedis (stupas) dedicated to the king and queens 60th birthday anniversaries. The summit viewpoint facing east is frequently visited for sunrise, while Two Chedis facing west are more popular for sunset visit.
Most of the waterfalls within the park have relatively good flow of water all year round but the best season for water flow is during the rainy season from May to November. One of seasonal attractions of the park is the blossoms of Siamese sakura flowers covering trees in pink during late January and early Februari, lasts only few weeks. The park is also one of top destination in the country for birders.
There are few waterfalls along the road to the headquarters in a very short stroll from the main road. The summit, Two Chedis, two popular trails are further west & northwest from the headquarters area. To see the exact location of these attractions, click the "show on map" links next to the attractions listed further down on this page.
The headquarters area is where a spacious campsite is located, it is pretty much in the middle of the park. The nearest attraction from there is Sirithan Waterfall, which is the only waterfall in a convinient distance to get to by foot.
The entrance fee is 300 THB for foreigners (children 150 THB) and 50 THB for local tourists (children 20 THB).
Doi Inthanon National Park should be avoided during longer holidays such as Songkran and other week-end combined long holidays when ten thousands people visits the park, creating a long traffic jam all the way inside the park. During the week-ends it tends to be busier and relatively small amount of tourists visiting the park during the week-days.
Attractions of Doi Inthanon
Visitor center, bungalows & main campsite
Doi Inthanon Visitor Center is situated next to the headquarters at km 30.8 near the Ban Khun Klang village of Hmong (Meo) tribe.
The camping area and bungalows are 500 meters from the headquarters area. Camping gears can be rent at the entrance to the campsite. There are no restaurants in that area, the nearest options are around the HQ and the market. The smaller options of tents for 3 people costs 225 THB/day, sleeping bags, matt and pillows costs additionally 60 baht in total per person (2018 prices).
During specifically winter months it can be quite cold in the night, early morning and late after noon. It happens couple of days year with temperatures dropping to nearly freezing point, some warmer cloth recommended for campers.
500 meters west from the visitor center there is a market with few restaurants. There is also an ATM next to the visitor center.
There are number of bungalows in different price range from 1,000 THB up to 6,500 THB with a significant discount when booked for Mon-Thu. It is possible to book bungalows on arrivals if there are any available. Bungalows can also be booked through DNP website in advance. As the money transfer must be done within 2 days and the fact it takes longer time with transfers from abroad, it is only possible to book from within Thailand only. Payments can be done at 7-Eleven convinicence stores or banks.
Doi Inthanon Summit
Located at km 48 at the end of road 1009, with 2565 meters above the sea level it is the highest peak in Thailand. There is a cafe next to the summit trail.
If you are after a challenging hike up to the highest point in Thailand, forget about it. The summit is only accessible by car all the way up, but you could hike few hundred meters from the parking area to the actual summit.
The summit viewpoint is a popular place for watching sunrise. For sunset, please read Phra Mahathat Naphamethanidon and Nophamethanidon (Two Chedis) further below.
Ang Ka Luang Nature Trail
A shorter circular boardwalk nature trail slightly on the opposit side from the trail to the summit, called Ang Ka Nature Trail. The habitat around the boardwalk is magical, very dense, mossy, lush forest all year round. This trail is highly recommended.
Kaew Mae Pan Nature Trail
Starting from the main road just few hundred meters north of the two chedis, this 2.5 km long circular trail must be accompanied by a Hmong Tribe guide. The hike is moderate to walk, clear and well maintained. Part of the trail is along a mountain ridge with beautiful view over west. The very rare Chinese gorals are relatively common along this trail but sighting is rare, a lot of attempts needed to eventually see one. It costs 200 THB to hire a guide, there are always few of them waiting at the trailhead on the main road.
This trail is closed June to October, re-opens 1st of November.
Known as Phra Mahathat Naphamethanidon and Nophamethanidon in Thai, Two Chedis are on the main road 5 km south from the top of the main summit of Doi Inthanon. Naphamethinidon, meaning 'by the strength of the land and air' was build in 1987 to honour 60th birthday aniversary of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Naphaphonphumisiri, meaning 'being the strength of the air and the grace of the land' was build in 1992 to honour 60th birthday anniversary of Queen Sirikit.
Due to many resident birds Doi Inthanon is a good place to see birds most of the year apart from July to October. The best time is around February to April when the big winter migration to Thailand happens which also is the breeding period.
See the markers on the map for few spots with info about typical birds found in the area.
Doi Inthanon National Park has number of waterfalls, most of them easily accessible from the main road through the national park, only few hundred meters off from the road. The waterflow is good all year round but most impressive during the rainy season May to November. During the cold and hot seasons the water is more clear and more suitable for swimming if possible.
Mae Ya Waterfall
A cascading waterfall plunging from several tiers over 250 meters. The main accessible tier 40 to 50 meters high and around 100 meters wide, no doubt one of the most impressive falls in the country.
It is said to be the biggest waterfall in the country, but to be taken with a pinch of salt. The highest single tier fall in Doi Inthanon National Park is is Mae Pan, read further below.
Mae Ya is located at the southern parts of the park, around 17 km southwest from the main checkpoint into the park. Mae Ya has it's own checkpoint where national park entrance fee must be paid for entry. Same entrance fee is valid for the entire national park.
Mae Pan Waterfall & campsite
Mae Pan is a 100 meters high waterfall off from the other attractions of Doi Inthanon, situated at the end of 2 km dirt road from Mae Chaem Road. It is the highest non-cascading waterfall in the park, due to it's relatively remote location it is not visited much by the local tourists which prefers to stop by at first 4-5 waterfalls on the way to the HQ. The trail to the waterfall can be very slippery, but worth the effort to get there. Apart from the waterfall there is a shorter loop trail that can be hiked in less than 2 hours.
There is a campsite in Mae Pan area, but there are no tents available for rent also no restaurants nearby.
Mae Klang Waterfall
The first waterfall on the main road into the national park, cascading nearly 100 meters high over several tiers with the highest tier nearly 25-30 meters high. It is located 600 meters south of the checkpoint at the southeast part of the park. This waterfall is very popular and can be very busy during the week-end and public holidays.
Pha Khun Na Waterfall
A smaller waterfall accessible by a short stroll from the visitor center.
Wang Khwai Waterfall
Another smaller waterfall only 200 meters north from Pha Khun Na Waterfall.
Easily accessible by a short trail from the car park next to the main road at km 20.8.
One of popular waterfalls, at km 22, accessible by a 200 meters long trail from the parking area on the main road.
1.5 km off the road 1284 north of HQ accessible by trails on the west side of the Ban Khun Klang village.
Mae Chaem Road
The road west from the junction to the road to summit at km 38 has several great views.
A limestone cave not too far away from the visitor center, accessible from km 9 (1 km north from checkpoint at km 8) with less than an hours trekking from the main road. It has two chambers with a spacious one in entrance.
Access to this cave is closed as of 2015 (confirmed Oct 2017 it is still closed). It won't even be possible to walk it with the rangers.
Royal Project Inthanon
Established in 1979, Royal Project Inthanon is a nearly 1 km² flower garden. The main purpose of starting this project was for eliminating opium growing by educating the locals. The garden is located at the Khun Klang Hhong village 1.5 north from the headquarters.
There are several greenhouses at the garden for gworing Rhododendron flowers, ferns, Hydroponics vegetables and various other flowers.
- 053 286 729 (Visitor Center)