Thai National Parks

About Doi Inthanon

Doi Inthanon is one of the most popular national parks in Thailand. It is famous for its waterfalls, few trails, remote villages, picturesque montane farms, viewpoints, sunrise/sunset watching, birdwatching and the all year round cold weather on higher elevations. The main park entrance is about 70 km southwest from Chiang Mai city center.

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 with elevations ranging between 800 and 2,565 meters asl. The highest peak at Doi Inthanon Mountain which is the highest mountain in Thailand. The park has high humidity and cold weather all year round.

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 were 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.

The rainy season is May to October with most rainfall around July to September. The rest of the year is quite dry with colder weather around November to February.

Wildlife

Due to continuous poaching and habitat change most of the bigger mammals such as elephants, tigers, gaurs has been extirpated from the park decades ago. Some mammal species like wild boar, gibbons, deer and serow still inhabits the park. There are currently around 65 known mammals in the national park of which half are bat species. Lucky visitors may see serows along the Kaew Mae Pan Nature Trail, but sighting is rare.

With accidental visitors and historically few recorded species counted, there are over 500 bird species recorded in the park, which could be the highest number in Thailand. The only other area in the country with this many variety of bird species recorded is Kaeng Krachan National Park in central-southwest Thailand. Some of the bird species in the country that is only recorded from Doi Inthanon are; scaly-sided merganser, black-throated thrush, common blackbird, dark-breasted rosefinch and collared grosbeak. There are many more species that can only be found in Doi Inthanon or in the nearby parks.

The big bird migration to Thailand start around March and continues with breeding time until June/July, which is the best time of the year to visit the park for birdwatching.

Of the reptile species, Hemiphyllodactylus chiangmaiensis (Chiang Mai dwarf gecko) is currently only known from the park. Currently, there are over 50 known reptile species recorded from the park, there are probably many more.

Getting there & get around

Getting to the park

The park is one of the few in the country accessible by public transportation, but getting there can be a bit challenging because 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 along the road.

The only public transportation option is slower songthaews which are passenger vehicles 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, but often longer due to waiting.

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 and the headquarters another 22 km inside the park.

See our "Get There & Stay" section for more detailed info about how to get to the park.

Get around in the park

Due to big distances between the attractions, visitors needs a car or bike. It will be a poor decision to try walking between the attractions along the main road.

Doi Inthanon National Park should be avoided during longer holidays such as Songkran and other week-end combined long holidays when ten thousands of people visit the park, creating a long traffic jam all the way inside the park.

The park is generally much busier during the week-ends, less people visiting the park during the week-days.

Tours & private transportation

Various tour operators offers tour packages to Doi Inthanon. These tours should be booked if you are after a bit more than visiting the attractions along the main road. Tour packages could include visiting remote villages which are only accessible by terrain vehicles.

It is possible to book a private tour or taxi service to Doi Inthanon from this website;

Entrance fees & opening times

The entrance fee is 300 Baht for foreigners (children 150 Baht) and 50 Baht for local tourists (children 20 Baht). Cars will be charged with 30 Baht and bikes with 20 Baht.

While the park is open all year round, including on public holidays, the main trail of the park -Kaew Mae Pan Trail- is closed for the visitors from June to October for annual forest recovery reasons.

The park is open 5:30 am to 6:30 pm every day.

Activities

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 convenient distance to get to by foot.

The summit of Doi Inthanon is the most popular spot in the park, mainly for its great view, but also for watching the sunrise. Two Chedis not too far south from the summit is facing west is more popular for its sunset view.

There are few waterfalls along the road to the headquarters in a very short stroll from the main road. Most of the waterfalls have a good flow of water all year round but the best season for water flow is during the rainy season from May to November. The waterfalls are all in rocky areas, not ideal for swimming.

One of seasonal attractions of the park is the blossoms of Siamese sakura flowers covering trees in pink during late January and early February, lasts only for a few weeks.

Birding possibilities is good in many spots along the main road, all the way up to the summit.

Mae Klang Luang Village around 6 km east from headquarters areas has some very picturesque rice fields around the second half of the rainy season. This village has also some cafes and restaurants. The rice fields are not worth to visit the rest of the year.

Stay & eat

The main camping ground and bungalows are around 500 meters north from the headquarters area.

Camping

The campsite is very spacious, see its location on map. Camping gear can be rented at the entrance to the campsite. The smaller tents for 3 people costs 225 THB/day, sleeping bags, matt and pillows costs additionally 60 baht in total per person (2018 prices).

There are no restaurants in campsite area, the nearest option is around the HQ and the Hmong market further west.

It is always cold at night in the park. During some winter days the temperatures may drop to as low as to freezing point. Campers are strongly recommended to have warmer clothes with them.

Bungalows

There are a number of bungalows scattered around the camping ground. The price ranges from 1,000 Baht up to 6,500 Baht, a 20% discount applies when booked for Mon-Thu. It is possible to book bungalows on arrival to the visitor center if there are any available.

Bungalows can be booked through DNP website in advance. As the money transfer must be done within 2 days and the fact that it takes time with transfers from abroad, it is only possible to book from within Thailand only. Payments can be done at 7-Eleven convenience stores or banks.

Eat

There are many restaurants in the park; Kaew Mae Pan Trail, Two Chedis, Hmong Market east from headquarters, Wachirathan Waterfall and few others. There is also a cafe at the summit and few other spots in the park.

Attractions of Doi Inthanon

Doi Inthanon Summit

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Located at km 48 at the end of the road 1009, with an altitude of 2,565 meters asl, it is the highest peak in Thailand.

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 a few hundred meters from the parking area to the actual summit.

The summit viewpoint is a popular place for watching the sunrise. For sunset, please read Phra Mahathat Naphamethanidon and Nophamethanidon (Two Chedis) further below.

Ang Ka Luang Nature Trail is not too far down the road, see below for more info.

There is a cafe next to the summit trail. There are a couple of squirrel and bird species which gets very near people while sitting and enjoying the view from this cafe.

Ang Ka Luang Nature Trail

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A shorter circular boardwalk nature trail slightly on the opposite side from the trail to the summit. 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

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Starting from the main road just a 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 easy to 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 Baht to hire a guide, there are always few of them waiting at the trailhead on the main road, can only be hired on spot.

This trail is closed from June to October, re-opens 1st of November.

Two Chedis

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Also 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.

The first of the chedis, Naphamethinidon, meaning 'by the strength of the land and air' was built in 1987 to honour 60th birthday anniversary of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The second chedi, Naphaphonphumisiri, meaning 'being the strength of the air and the grace of the land' was built in 1992 to honour 60th birthday anniversary of Queen Sirikit.

There is a viewpoint with good view over the west side of the park, a popular place to see the sunset.

Birdwatching

Due to many resident birds, Doi Inthanon is a good place to see birds most of the year. 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.

Waterfalls

Doi Inthanon National Park has many waterfalls, some easily accessible from the main road through the national park, only a few hundred meters off from the road. The waterflow is good all year round but most impressive during the rainy season from May to November. During the cold and dry seasons the water is more clear and more suitable for swimming if possible, but most waterfalls are very rocky, swimming possibilities are very limited.

Mae Ya Waterfall

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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, there are higher and much wider falls in the country.

Mae Ya is located in the southern parts of the park, around 17 km southwest from the main checkpoint into the park. Mae Ya has its 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

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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

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It is 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.

Wang Khwai Waterfall

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Another smaller waterfall only 200 meters north from Pha Khun Na Waterfall.

Wachirathan Waterfall

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One of the most impressive waterfalls in the park, the most popular one due to its location and easy access. As with most other waterfalls, the size of this waterfall is very exaggerated by park staff or guides, but still, with around 40 meters height and the impressive wide look, it is no doubt one of the best falls in the park.

There are a number of restaurants, cafes and shops around the car park area of the falls.

Sirithan Waterfall

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One of the most popular waterfalls, at km 22, accessible by a 200 meters long trail from the parking area on the main road. This waterfall can only be seen from a viewpoint not too far from the falls. It is not possible to get all the way down to the waterfall.

Siriphum Waterfall

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1.5 km off the road 1284 north of headquarters, accessible by a trail on the west side of Ban Khun Klang village and the Royal Garden.

Royal Project Inthanon

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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.

Mae Klang Luang Village

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A village around 5 km east of headquarters, right south of the main road. This village has rice fields nestled on mountain slopes, creating a very nice view during the rainy seasons. There are restaurants and cafes in the village.

Brichinda Cave

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A 250 long limestone cave not too far away from the entrance of the park, accessible from km 9 (1 km north from checkpoint at km 8) with less than an hour hiking from the main road. It has two chambers with a spacious one near the cave entrance.

Access to this cave is closed as of 2015 (confirmed Sept 2019 it is still closed). It isn’t even possible to walk it with a ranger.

Open the map of Doi Inthanon

Phone(s)

  • 053 286 729 (Visitor Center)

You are recommended to ask a Thai speaking person to call on your behalf.

Viewpoint from Doi Inthanon

Viewpoint from Doi Inthanon

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Rufous-winged buzzard

Rufous-winged buzzard

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Trees of Doi Inthanon

Trees of Doi Inthanon

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Siamese sakura flowers

Siamese sakura flowers

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Mae Ya Waterfall, 250 meters high

Mae Ya Waterfall, 250 meters high

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