The awe inspiring views you’ll enjoy from the mist-shrouded peak of a Doi Inthanon tour makes it easy to understand why this mountain has been nicknamed ‘The Roof of Thailand’.
Known in the past as Doi Luang (big mountain), magnificent Doi Inthanon now takes its name from the former King Inthawichayanon of Chiang Mai, who made it his mission to preserve the mountain and its surrounding forests.
It’s the highest mountain in Thailand, and it’s a must see for visitors.
The Highest Mountain in Thailand
Situated in Chiang Mai province in the north of Thailand, Doi Inthanon is at the heart of its own immense national park which sprawls over 482 square kilometers of tropical forest covering many climatic and ecological zones.
The mountain itself is part of the Thanon Thong Chai mountain range which varies between 800 meters above sea level at its lowest point with the peak of Doi Inthanon being its crowning glory at the highest point of 2565 meters above sea level. It is also considered part of the foothills of the Himalayas.
Owing to its large height, the climate on the mountain is variable – and generally cooler than elsewhere in Thailand. Doi Inthanon National Park has high humidity and chilly weather all year round. At high altitude on the summit temperatures can drop as low as 32°F (0°C) in January, and during the rainy season (April to November) it often rains for more than 2 hours a day.
Doi Inthanon National Park
Flora and Fauna
Something of a national treasure, Doi Inthanon was declared a National Park in 1972 and formally extended in 1978 to include the surrounding lowlands. Other than the obvious allure of the mountain itself, there is an abundance of flora and fauna here to attract nature lovers — some of the widest variety in Thailand.
The park is a paradise for bird enthusiasts as it is home to the second largest number of species of birds (382 in total) in the country.
Doi Inthanon is of particular conservation importance for those species which inhabit the humid evergreen forests of the upper slopes. Two rare species that are uniquely seen on the mountain are the Ashy-throated Leaf-Warbler and a special variety of Green-tailed Sunbird. The best time to bird watch is during the breeding season which lasts from March until as late as July for some species.
Sadly due to hunting and habitat change many of the larger mammals have disappeared from the park, but it is nevertheless still home to around 75 mammal species. Rare animals like the Asiatic black bear, Assamese macaque, and Phayre’s leaf-monkey can still be seen here, as well as more common creatures such as barking deer, civets and giant flying squirrels. The flora consists of sphagnum bog, moist evergreen cloud forest, dry evergreen, pine, teak and dipterocarp forests.
Places of Interest
But the wildlife isn’t the only thing to experience here – the impressive waterfalls that cascade down Doi Inthanon’s slopes are not to be missed. Perhaps the most impressive are multi-tiered Mae Ya waterfall which plunges over 250 meters, and the fast flowing Wachirathan waterfall whose powerful torrents drench you in spray.
Another natural wonder to enjoy on Doi Inthanon is Tham Bori Chinda cave. An hour’s trek from the main road, this large cave has been naturally formed from the limestone mass of the mountain. Sunlight enters inside the cave and reflects off the surface off the water to reveal some remarkable stalactite and stalagmite formations, plus carved Buddha images.
Also worth a visit are the two chedis (stupas) constructed in celebration of the 60th birthdays of the late King and Queen of Thailand (in 1987 and 1992 respectively). The twin chedis are set in superb and immaculately landscaped gardens among the clouds, and a visit here is a serene experience.
Another sight worth seeing is the Doi Inthanon Royal Project in Khun Klang village. This project was founded by the royals back in the 70s to help educate the hill tribe population in new agricultural practices, in order to persuade them away from the opium harvest.
The project is home to some truly beautiful plantations and an interesting plant breeding research centre.
Map of Doi Inthanon National Park
Doi Inthanon Tours
The National Park is situated around only 100 km from Chiang Mai making it ideally placed for a day trip from the city. There are a number of organised tours available to make the most of the experience and all include pick up from your hotel, an English speaking guide, admission fees and lunch. Here are 4 of the best…
On your way up the mountain you’ll visit the amazing Wachiritharn waterfalls, followed by the King and Queen Chedis. Also included is the Ang Ka nature walk where you can walk amongst the unique flora and forest that grow at Doi Inthanon’s high altitudes. On your way back down you will see Karen and Hmong tribal villages and stop off at the local market.
Price: 1390 THB per person
Expect a visit to both Wachiritharn and Siritharn Waterfalls on this tour, as well as the chance to explore the agricultural work at the Royal Project Research Station. Enjoy the views at the twin chedis before reaching Doi Inthanon’s summit. Near the top you can take the Ang Ka nature walk, followed by a trip to a Karen tribal village before making your way back to Chiang Mai.
Price: 1150 THB per person
Marvel at the evergreen forests and other natural scenery on this tour before heading to Royal Project and the King and Queen Chedis, then descending to pay a visit to a traditional Hmong Market and Karen hill tribe, before driving to a waterfall and then heading back.
Price: 1150 THB per person
Discover the flora and fauna of the mountain and the fantastic views. On this tour you’ll visit waterfalls, a hill tribe village and the holy relics in the temple at Chomthong.
Price: 3,750.00 THB per person
Hotels Near Doi Inthanon National Park
- 10km from Doi Inthanon National Park
- Farm stay
- Each room has a kettle and private bathroom
- Some rooms have seating areas and balconies
- Shared lounge
- Traditional Thai-style rooms on stilts
- In Chiang Mai Old Town
- Common kitchen
- 7 individually designed rooms with seating area and ensuite bathroom
- Library and massage
- 5 minute walk from Sunday Walking Street
- 10 minute drive from Chiang Mai airport
- In Chiang Mai Old Town
- Outdoor pool
- 24 hour front desk
- 5 minutes from night bazaar
- 15 minutes from the airport
- Rooms have A/C, TV, safety deposit box, kettle and fridge
Doi Inthanon Packing List
And that’s all you need to know about Doi Inthanon National Park!
Have you climbed the highest mountain in Thailand?
Featured image and map includes photo by Lester Mathias Andersson (CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)