Doi Inthanon National Park: Thailand’s Natural Treasure Explored

Doi Inthanon National Park, also known as “The Roof of Thailand,” is a stunning destination situated in the Chiang Mai province in northern Thailand. The park encompasses an area of 482 km² and is part of the Himalayan mountain range, with elevations ranging between 800 and 2,565 meters above sea level. The highest peak in the park is Doi Inthanon Mountain, which stands as the tallest mountain in Thailand.

The park is approximately 60 kilometers from Chiang Mai and is home to Karen and Meo Hmong villages with a population of about 4,500 people. With its diverse flora and fauna, breathtaking waterfalls, and magnificent mountain landscapes, Doi Inthanon National Park is a must-see attraction for nature enthusiasts and travelers seeking an unforgettable experience in Thailand.

Location and Accessibility

Doi Inthanon National Park is situated in the Chiang Mai province of Northern Thailand, around 58 kilometers southwest of Chiang Mai city. Known for its lush forests, breathtaking waterfalls, and the highest mountain in Thailand, Doi Inthanon measures 2,565 meters above sea level.

To access the park, visitors have a few transportation options. One convenient way to get there is by joining a tour from Chiang Mai, which usually includes transportation, guides, and stops at the park’s main attractions. For a more independent option, visitors can rent a car, motorbike, or hire a private driver to take them to the park.

Once inside the park, the main attractions and viewpoints can be accessed via well-maintained roads. Hiking trails, such as the Ang Ka Nature Trail and the Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail, are clearly marked and have designated entrances within the park.

Travelers who prefer public transportation may opt for the local buses that operate from Chiang Mai to the nearby market town of Chom Thong. From Chom Thong, visitors can hire a songthaew (a shared taxi) or arrange a private transfer to reach the National Park entrance.

Keep in mind, there is an entrance fee for both Thai citizens and foreigners. As of April 2023, the fee for foreign adults is 300 THB and 150 THB for foreign children. Thai citizens pay 50 THB for adults and 25 THB for children. The entrance fee covers access to all attractions and hiking trails within the park.

Highlights and Attractions

Doi Inthanon National Park, located just 37 miles from Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, is home to the country’s tallest and most prominent mountain, Doi Inthanon, standing at 8,415 feet (2,565 meters) high. With a 186-square-mile (482-square-kilometer) area, the park offers various attractions, including stunning nature trails, lush rainforests, breathtaking viewpoints, and rushing waterfalls [TripSavvy]. Here are some of the highlights and attractions you should not miss during your visit to the park:

Nature Trails and Hiking: One of the top things to do in Doi Inthanon is hiking, as it’s the best way to reach all the stunning viewpoints throughout the national park. The park marks the end of the Himalayas, and its landscape provides ample opportunities for visitors to explore its beauty on foot [Salt in our Hair].

Royal Twin Pagodas: Another must-visit site is the Royal Twin Pagodas, dedicated to King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit to commemorate their birthdays. The pagodas are surrounded by beautiful gardens, and the sunrise views from this spot are simply breathtaking [Salt in our Hair].

Waterfalls: Doi Inthanon National Park is home to numerous waterfalls, such as Mae Klang Waterfall, Wachirathan Waterfall, and Siriphum Waterfall, to name a few. These stunning natural attractions offer visitors opportunities to cool off and enjoy the sight and sound of water cascading into emerald pools [The Thaiger].

Birdwatching: The park is also a haven for birdwatching enthusiasts, as it houses over 362 species of birds, including several rare and endemic species. Some of the best birdwatching spots in Doi Inthanon include the summit area, the Karen and Hmong villages, and the nature trail at Km 37.5 [Culture Trip].

Local Villages: During your visit, take some time to explore the traditional Karen and Hmong hill tribe villages located within the park. These communities offer insights into the local culture, and you may also find opportunities to shop for unique handicrafts made by the villagers [Culture Trip].

Flora and Fauna

Doi Inthanon National Park is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, largely due to its wide range of altitudes. The lower regions of the park are populated by moist evergreen cloud forests, while the higher altitudes support sphagnum bogs that foster unique plant species [source].

The park is particularly known for its colorful and abundant wildflowers, including Vanda Orchids, Phycastylis, and Rhododendron, which can be found all over the park [source]. Other interesting plant species commonly found in the area include ferns, mosses, and various fruit trees.

Furthermore, the park offers a rich diversity in terms of fauna, with numerous bird species inhabiting the area. It is considered one of the best birding sites in Thailand and houses over 380 bird species, making it a paradise for birdwatchers [source]. Among the notable bird species found in the park are Siam sunbirds, green-tailed sunbirds, and Mrs. Gould’s sunbirds, which can be spotted throughout the year.

Doi Inthanon National Park is also home to several mammal species, such as barking deer, macaques, and squirrels. While big mammals like elephants, tigers, and gaur are believed to be present in the park, sightings of these animals are rare.

In addition to the terrestrial creatures, the park hosts a variety of reptiles and amphibians, including snakes, geckos, tokay geckos, and tree frogs. The streams and rivers running through the park are home to a number of fish species, some of which are unique to the region, offering opportunities for angling and further biodiversity observation.

Trekking and Outdoor Activities

Doi Inthanon National Park offers a wide range of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts, with trekking being one of the most popular options. Visitors can choose from a variety of trails, ranging from easy walks to challenging hikes.

The Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail is a gentle 4km trek suitable for all ages and fitness levels. Along the trail, hikers can learn about the park’s diverse flora and fauna while enjoying panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

For those seeking for a more challenging experience, the Pha Dok Siew Nature Trail offers a 2-hour trek through picturesque forest and rice terraces. This trek is an excellent opportunity to witness unique plant species and wildlife in their natural habitat.

Besides trekking, Doi Inthanon National Park offers various other outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy:

  • Birdwatching – The park is home to over 380 bird species, making it a popular destination for bird enthusiasts.
  • Waterfalls – Explore stunning waterfalls such as Wachirathan, Mae Klang, and Sirithan within the park’s boundaries.
  • Mountain biking – Experience a thrilling ride through the park’s diverse landscapes on designated trails.

With its rich biodiversity and beautiful landscape, Doi Inthanon National Park provides a perfect setting for an unforgettable outdoor adventure.

Accommodation and Facilities

Doi Inthanon National Park offers various accommodation options for visitors seeking a comfortable stay. Popular hotels in the area include the Inthanon Highland Resort, which provides cozy chalets and helpful staff who can assist with medical needs and information about the park. Another recommended option is Nok Chan Mee Na, a delightful collection of stilted bungalows set in a picturesque rice paddy with splendid views of the park.

For visitors looking to stay close to nature, the park offers over 2159 lodges, cabins, and hotels in the area and the surrounding towns. Prices range from $29 per night to $146 per night, making it easy to find lodging that suits your budget. Options can be found on websites such as Expedia. The Doi Inthanon View Resort is another popular choice, with good user reviews and an affordable price starting from $81 per night.

The park offers a variety of facilities to cater to the needs of visitors. Some accommodations also provide essential amenities such as restaurants and birdwatching tours, ensuring guests have access to the main attractions of the National Park. Many of these resorts also have sprawling gardens filled with tall trees and picturesque scenery, allowing guests to relax and enjoy the natural surroundings.

When exploring the park, visitors can utilize the available facilities such as visitor centers, restrooms, and picnic areas. The park’s paths and trails are well-maintained and marked, allowing visitors to explore the area safely. Moreover, the park employs knowledgeable park rangers and staff, who are available to assist with information about the park, its wildlife, and points of interest.

Doi Inthanon National Park is open from 5:30 am to 6:30 pm every day, all year round. Don’t forget that as of June 2022, the entrance fees to the park are 300 Baht for adults and 150 Baht for children 3-14 years old. Thai citizens pay 60 Baht for adults and 30 Baht for children. Cars will be charged with an additional 30 Baht, and bikes with 20 Baht. So it’s essential to factor in these costs while planning your visit to the park.

Visitor Information and Tips

When planning a visit to Doi Inthanon National Park, it’s essential to be well-prepared, considering weather conditions, entrance fees, available activities, and more. This section provides some valuable tips to help you have a comfortable and enjoyable experience at the park.

Firstly, the park has an entrance fee of 300 THB for adults and 150 THB for children. Ensure you carry enough cash to cover these fees, as card payments are not always accepted. Additionally, some activities within the park, such as visiting the waterfalls or paid trails, may have separate fees.

Weather in Doi Inthanon can be quite unpredictable, especially at higher elevations. The best time to visit is between November and February, when the weather is cooler and there is less rainfall. However, make sure to bring warm clothing, as temperatures at the summit can drop significantly. During the rainy season, from June to October, be prepared for sudden rain showers and carry waterproof gear.

There are numerous things to do inside the park, from visiting waterfalls and temples to hiking and bird watching. For a comprehensive list of essential activities, refer to “7 Best Things to Do at Doi Inthanon in 2023“.

For those interested in hiking, Doi Inthanon National Park offers various trails to choose from, suiting all levels of fitness and experience. Some popular trails include Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail, Ang Ka Luang Nature Trail, and the Pha Dok Siew Nature Trail. More information about the best hikes and trails can be found in the “Complete Guide to Doi Inthanon National Park“.

When it comes to accommodation, there are several options available for visitors. While camping is available in designated areas inside the park, if you prefer staying in guesthouses or hotels, you can find options nearby. For a detailed list of recommended accommodations, refer to “Doi Inthanon Day Trip – Everything You Need to Know [2023]“.

Finally, it’s essential to respect the park’s rules and guidelines to help preserve the environment for future generations. This includes not littering, avoiding feeding wild animals, and refraining from making unnecessary noise. By following these simple guidelines, you can help ensure that Doi Inthanon National Park remains a beautiful and pristine destination for generations to come.