Doi Inthanon National Park, also known as "the roof of Thailand" was established in 1972, and surrounds Doi Inthanon mountain, which is the largest peak in Thailand, standing at 2565m. The 482km park is situated approx 60km from Chiang Mai and is about a 2 hour car ride from the airport.
The diverse ecosystem within the park provides a habitat for rare wildlife, flowers and fauna, as well as being home to 4,500 people from the Karen and Meo Hmong ethnic minorities. Perfect if you're the outdoorsy or cultural type.
Flowers and Fauna
Doi Inthanon national park has a diverse range of eco-systems, allowing for a range of rare flowers and fauna to thrive in their natural habitat.
Kiu Mae Pan
Kiu Mae Pan nature trail is a 2.5km round trip through sub-alpine forest, often shrouded in fog, here you can spot many rare plants and flowers, including the Red Rhododendron, a native of the Himalayas.
Ang Ka is a 400m boardwalk through a rare combination of mountain peat bog and hill evergreen forest. Here lichens cover the ancient trees from top to bottom, soaking up the moist mountain air, creating an otherworldly atmosphere.
Although there are no wild Elephants or Tigers at Doi Inthanon, there are a number of rare and interesting species in the park.
Goral & Serow
Goral and Serow are two types of rare goat-antelope species that make their home on the high peaks of the park. Hunted to near extinction in recent times, the park offers much needed protection from poachers for these wonderful creatures.
Monkeys & Gibbons
The natural isolation of the park provides great habitat for a range of rare and not so rare species of Monkeys and Gibbons.
Doi Inthanon is a real twitcher's delight boasting around 400 species of bird, including many rare species. The bird watching centre, also known as Uncle Daeng's Cafe is a particular hot spot for bird watchers, offering guides and advice on where to spot. You can find a comprehensive list of sighted birds here...
Mae Ya Waterfall
Often missed by visitors as it is not located on the main road through the park, however it is a popular picnic site for Thai tourists. The Mae Ya river plunges 250m at this point, rushing over multiple strata of rock and boulders into crystal clear pools at the waterfall's base.
Vachiritharn waterfall is easily accessed by a short trail form the car park. The waterfall itself is one of the most impressive in the park, plunging over 50m into a large deep pool. The high volume of water crashing into the pool often creates a shroud of mist that surrounds the fall itself.
Named by the Queen when on a visit to the park, Siritharn waterfall is situated 100m back from the main road. A short walk through the jungle leads to a viewing platform where the gushing 40m fall can be viewed.
Mae Klang Waterfall
Situated just 300m form the main road through the park Mae Klang waterfall is one of the most visited Waterfalls in Doi Inthanon and is a popular picnic spot. The fall is an impressive 30m cascade into a series of pools.
Mae Pan Waterfall
The 100m single drop Mae Pan waterfall is a little more off the beaten track than some of the other waterfalls within the park but is certainly one of the more rewarding falls. In addition to the falls there is a circular hiking trail around the area which takes you past various smaller water falls and Huai Sai Lueang waterfall.
Things to do
Perhaps the most obvious thing to do in Doi Inthanon, there are numerous organised treks and trails throughout the park. Always check in at the Park headquarters located at the Royal Agricultural Research Station first. Many of the trials require you to take a local guide along with you and there may be restrictions on group size so always check first.
Royal Agricultural Research Station
The research station was set up in 1979 by King Bhumipol, in order to raise the standard of living for the local community. You are free to walk around the various reseach greenhouses and crop plantations and enjoy the magnificent scenery surrounding the centre.
Royal Pagodas of Nobhamethanidol & Nabhapolbhumisiri
Built by the Royal Thai Airforce in commemoration of the late King and Queen's 60th birthdays, the Royal Pagodas make for an impressive sight near the summit of Doi Inthanon, the also offer great viewing points over the unspoiled beauty of the park.
Doi Inthanon Summit
The highest point in Thailand overlooks the entire park and is easily accessed by road. The near by tourist Public Relations centre is also a useful stop off point for anyone wanting to learn more about the area.
Hmong market, offers locally made crafts, flowers, and locally sourced fruits and vegetables. The market is run by members of the local Hmong tribe and helps to support the rural economy withing the park.
Places to Stay
There are a number of campsites within the park that are managed by the park authorities and can be arranged at the Park Headquarters. Prices are reasonable, with tent hire costing 250 Bhat.
Hotels and Resorts
Most of the hotels in the area are situated in Chom Thong, just outside of the Park. There is a wide selection to suit all budgets, the Touch Star Resort comes highly recommended, with room at 1500-2000 Baht per night it's not too pricey either.