About Doi Suthep-Pui
Formerly known as Doi Aoy Chang, Doi Suthep-Pui National Park is named after the mountain where the hermit Sudeva lived on it's slopes for many years. The park is situated in Chiang Mai Province, only few kilometers northwest of Chiang Mai City covering 265 km². Doi Suthep is part of the Thanon Thong Chai Range, most of it's bedrock is granite. The other two peaks are Doi Buak Ha and Doi Pui, the latter one is the highest at 1685 meters.
The park is physically separated in two areas apart with areas between not managed by the park authorithies. West of Chiang Mai is the main area with most major attractions and the headquarters, and a smaller area around Mok Fa Waterfall some 10 km further north.
The main attractions of the park is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep which is build near the peak of Doi Suthep, few waterfalls, viewpoints, caves and the nature. The park is ideal for hiking through many trail options as well as for cycling and camping. There are many trails at Doi Suthep and the visitors are not recommended to walk longer trails on their own.
Forests in the park concists of evergreen forest on higher altitudes above 1,000 meters and deciduous forest on lower parts with some mixed deciduous-evergreen forest occuring in gullies and along streams. Common trees include oaks, dipterocarps, and trees of the magnolia family. There are nearly 2000 species of ferns and flowering plants, nearly 300 species of birds and number of mammal species.
Common birds found in the national park are white-crested laughingthrush, grey-headed canary-flycatcher, great barbet, blue-throated barbet, grey-capped pygmy woodpecker, grey-chinned minivet, Blyth's shrike-babbler, Yunnan fulvetta and slaty-backed flycatcher.
Due to high altitude the climate is cool and pleasant all year round with average temperatures of 20-23 °C, temperatures may drop to 6 °C during the winter nights around February. Visitors driving into the park on bikes are highly recommended to wear sweater to avoid getting cold. August and September are the wettest period of the year with daily rainfall.
Entrance fee for foreigners is 200 THB adults and 100 THB for children, but there could be additional charges for visiting some attractions.
There are number of bungalows at the headquarters area, at Doi Pui Campground, Man Tha Than Waterfall Campground, and Mok Fa Waterfall Ranger Station. The price range from 400 THB up to 3,000 THB, a significant discount will apply when booked for Mon-Thu. Bungalows can 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.
Attractions of Doi Suthep-Pui
Build in 1961, Bhubing Palace is the royal winter residence to accommdate the royal family during their visits to the northern Thailand. The official name of the palace is Phra Tamnak Phu Phing.
The palace is 4 km west of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. There are number of buildings including guesthouses for state visitors from abroad. The palace is open to the public, except when the royal family is in residence. The area is ideal for birdwatching, butterfly watching and has good view over Chiang Mai. Opening times are 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., but can close as early as 3 pm sometimes.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Generally referred as Doi Suthep Temple, it is a Theravada Buddhist temple with holy shrines, pagodas, statues and murals around. The temple is build near the peak of Doi Suthep mountain at 1055 meters above the sea level, 14.5 km from Chiang Mai City Center (Old City). The first chedi is said to have been founded in 14th century as a Buddist monastery and still is a working monastary. It is one of the most sacred sites in the region. Aspects of the temple draw from both Buddhism and Hinduism. A model of the Emerald Buddha and a statue of the Hindu God Ganesha can be found in the temple site.
The temple can be reached from the main road through the national park, accessible by walking 309 steps steep up or by tram for 30B. The way up is flanked by trees and Naga snake figures. All visitors must take off their shoes and dressed appropriately to enter the temple terrace. No shorts allowed and shoulders must be covered, there are clothes available for rent. Opening times are irregular, people seen in the temple from very early in the morning from around 5 to 6 am, closes around 7 pm.
Huey Kaew Waterfall
A smaller waterfall located at the edge of Chiant Mai City on a short walking distance from the main road near the park entrance. It is popular among local tourists. There are a lot of butterflies around the waterfall and a nearly 500 meters short trail that ends up at the main road on northwest.
Dtaat Mook Waterfall
Located at the north side of the national park, accessible by a 7 km long circular trail starting near the Golden Buddha which is overlooking Huay Tung Tao reservoir.
The trail to the waterfall requires a guide. There are guides available at the start of the trail, costs 200 THB per group.
Yod Doi Pui Campsite
Located north of Bhubing Palace, accessible from the road that turns right 900 meters west from the Palace and than 3.8 km north. The campsite has basic facilities, a restaurant and a visitor center. The visitor center has tents and mountain bikes available for rent. Two person tents costs 225 THB per night, sleeping bags and other accessories also available for rent from 60 THB. It is possible to rent a tent with all sleeping accessories for 405 Baht. Camping visitors are recommended to use sleepingbags as night temperatures gets very cold, during certain seasons as low as 6 °C. Mountain bikes costs 100 THB a day. The campsite has around 40-50 tents for rent.
Mok Fa Waterfall
Mok Fa or Mork Fa Waterfall, acccessible by car, it is in 5-10 minutes walking distance from the car park area of the waterfall. The entrance to the waterfall is on the highway 1095 from Chiang Mai to Pai.
The waterfall is located on a physically separate area of part, 10 km further north from the main area of the park. There is a information center there and number of bungalows for rent for 1,500 THB per night (see info above how to book).
Headquarters of the park is located less than a kilometer northwest of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (the main temple). Number of bungalows form 400 THB up to 2,500 THB available for rent (see info above how to book).
Mon Tha Than Waterfall & Campsite
A popular and quite often busy nine-tiered waterfall 3 km into the national park. Entering the park less than 1.5 kilometers, a side road on the right side will lead to this waterfall, just a bit into the road a checkpoint will be seen.
The waterfall area has a campsite and few bungalows. Bungalows are available for booking through DNP website from 1,500 THB (see info above how to book).
Chiang Mai is full of trails, below we will list only few popular ones. To see where these trails are on map, just click "show on map" link next to the title. Please do not ignore guide requirement for certain trails as the park is full of crossing trails form different directions, it is very easy to get lost, particularly because not all trails are signposted well.
One of the most known trail in Doi Suthep, starting from a trailhead west of Chiang Mai University (GPS coordinates; 18.797678, 98.942200) and ending at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep.
It takes around 1.5 hours to walk the trail. Half way through this trail in about 45 minutes hiking is another temple, Wat Phra Lat which is nearby the main road into the park. Once at the road, the hikers needs to walk right on the road couple of hundred meters and continue the trail from the other side of the road (GRP coordinates; 18.798995, 98.931719).
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