Your trip to Chiang Mai won’t be complete if you never visit Doi Inthanon National Park. I’m serious. This national park is one of the most beautiful national parks in Thailand. And what’s more, it’s the tallest point in the entire Thailand too! Situated 2500 meters above sea level, this tall and stunning mountain is the perfect getaway from the buzzling Chiang Mai city. That’s why I highly recommend you to visit Doi Inthanon, trekking Thailand’s highest mountain.
Merely two hours drive away, Doi Inthanon is famous for its picturesque scenery. Due to the high altitude, it’s also known as “The Roof of Thailand”. Doi Inthanon has high humidity and cold weather all year round. The average daily temperatures are normally around 10-12 °C. When we got there during the summer, it was 17 °C. It is really cooling up there, so bring along extra jackets to keep yourself warm. 😊 By the way the entrance fee to the park is 300 THB for foreigners.
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Doi Inthanon Trekking – How to Get to Doi Inthanon?
From Chiang Mai, there’s a variety of ways to reach Doi Inthanon. The best way is to hire a car and explore the national park at your own pace. Personally, I hired mine from Budget Car Rental at Chiang Mai Airport. I spent 6 awesome days to explore Chiang Mai and around (check out Best of Chiang Mai in 6 days) and it only cost about $20 a day. The fact that it has its office inside the airport makes picking up and returning the car so hassle free.
Hiring our car is the best decision we’ve ever made because we get to have an awesome 6-day road trip around Chiang Mai at our own pace. We checked out Must See Temples in Chiang Mai and visited Best Elephant Sanctuary In Chiang Mai. We also drove to Pai, Thailand’s most romantic town (check out Best Things To Do In Pai), and stayed at Puripai Villa Thailand, a beautiful resort that will steal your heart away. All in all, it was so much fun. I’m sure we can never complete all these without hiring a car from Budget Car Rental.
Insider Tip: You will need an International Driver’s license to be able to officially rent a car here in Thailand. If you don’t have a driving license, travel with your friends or family members who have one! Traveling with a bigger group also helps to save more money by splitting the rental cost. It’s a win-win. 😊 Plus, the roads in Chiang Mai is generally easy and smooth to travel. Getting to Doi Inthanon especially, is a piece of cake.
On the other hand, I don’t recommend renting a scooter or motorbike if you don’t have an International license. I know some travellers do that as they think it’s cheaper to hire a scooter than a car. However, cops randomly pull tourist’s over to check it they have a license. So be prepared to pay a fine if you don’t. What’s worst, if you get into accidents and become terribly injured, you can’t claim from your insurance. So why take the risk?
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Where to do Doi Inthanon Trekking No.1 – Wachirathan Waterfall
Once you get to Doi Inthanon, you will be delighted with the number of scenic waterfalls to see, along with some popular nature trails. As you drive up to the summit, you can make your first stop at the Wachirathan Waterfall. After climbing a small hill, the beautiful waterfall will be right in front of you.
As you stay there and listen to the water, you may even see small rainbows appearing every now and then if the weather is sunny! Travel down the stairs and you will reach the bottom rocks.
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Where to do Doi Inthanon Trekking No.2 – Ang Ka Luang Nature Trail
Next, you can travel all the way up to the summit (another 20-30 mins drive) and explore the enchanted forest by trekking Ang Ka Luang Nature Trail. Why do I say it’s enchanted? You can see that the whole trail is covered by lush green moss, making it magically beautiful. In the past, I thought such scenery could only be found in games like Final Fantasy, now I know they actually exist in the real world!
The trail is only 360 meters long, and if you don’t have that much time, it is a perfect little trek. When we got there, it was very quiet and peaceful as we went during the off-peak season. Imagine you can have the whole enchanted forest all by yourself. It’s just perfect!
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Where to do Doi Inthanon Trekking No.3 -Kaew Mae Pan Nature Trail
If you have more time to spare, do the Kaew Mae Pan Nature Trail. When we went there in July, the trail was closed due to rainy season. T..T It was closed from from June 1st until October 31st, and it will reopen on November 1st. I’ve read so much good reviews about this 2.5km circular trail. To trek there, you need to hire a local Hmong Tribe guide for 200 THB. There isn’t a minimum number of people to a guide so the cost isn’t too bad. If you truly want to explore the beauty of Doi Inthanon, I strongly recommend you to do this trail.
Where to do Doi Inthanon Trekking No.4 – King & Queen Twin Pagodas
In the middle of the national park, you’ll find the picturesque wwin pagodas overlooking the endless stretch of mountains. The King & Queen Twin Pagodas were built to commemorate the fifth cycle birthdays of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit. They sit on opposite peaks, facing each other and share the same design and colour.
We spent a long time walking around them, admiring the architecture and statues inside each pagoda. Before you get into the pagodas to pay respect, you need to remove your shoes and remain silence, as it’s a solemn place.
If you are interested to learn more about the origins of buddha, take your time to read the descriptions on the wall.
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Where to do Doi Inthanon Trekking No.5 – Hmong Market
As you end your day and driving out of the national park, you can stop by the Hmong Market and buy some local delights like avocado, honey, dried fruits and deep fried bananas. The goods are rather cheap and it’s a great way to support the local villagers.
Where to stay in Doi Inthanon?
We stayed at Touch Star Resort for 1 night and it turned out to be a great choice. Located only 10 mins drive from the entrance of Doi Inthanon National Park, the resort offers the perfect location to start and end your day. The room is clean and the bed is super comfortable. There is also air-con inside the room but we didn’t use it at all as the weather was so cooling. The resort also provides hot shower to each room using natural spring water. Amazing, isn’t it?
The resort itself is quite an attraction too. Every now and then, you will see some cute statues and signs, making it super Instagram-able.
The owner Tay is absolutely lovely too. She can speak good English and shared with me why she started the resort in the first place. She said when she visited Doi Inthanon more than 15 years ago, she was blown away by its beauty. That night, she also saw countless numbers of stars, so close that she could nearly touch them. That’s how she got the inspirations and worked very hard to buy the lands pieces by pieces, transforming it into the Touch Star Resort we adore today. Book your perfect stay NOW!
I hope this blog post will inspire you visit Doi Inthanon and Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is surprisingly different from other parts of Thailand. Everything there is well maintained and the nature is abundant. Because it is not super popular among tourists, you don’t see much crowd there and cost of living is much cheaper compared to popular attractions like Phuket. So visit Chiang Mai, I’m sure you’ll fall in love.