Doi Inthanon National Park
to Get to Doi Inthanon
The Legend of Doi Luang Ang Ka
The highest mountain of Thailand “Doi Inthanon”
or Mt Inthanon was formerly known in the northern dialect
as “Doi Luang Ang Ka”, which conveys its
colossal size and feature. Legend has it that Mt Inthanon
once contained a huge reservoir or “Ang”
in Thai. This reservoir was where crows or “Ka”
usually came to drink water. So the locals named the
mountain the “big crows’ reservoir mountain”.
After the 7th ruling prince of Chiang Mai, Chao Intha
Wichayanon, who once came to explore the mountain passed
away, his daughter, Chao Dara Ratsami, buried her father’s
ashes here to fulfill his wish. Then Doi Luang Ang Ka
was given the new name “Doi Inthanon”. In
1972, Doi Inthanon was declared the 6th national park
A Trip to Doi Inthanon
Situated in the Thanon Thong Chai Mountain Range, covering
an area of 1,005 sq km and being 2,565 m above sea level,
Doi Inthanon is the highest mountain of Thailand and
one of the most popular national parks of this country.
The hills at 1,800 metres and up are often shrouded
in mist, especially in the rainy season. Doi Inthanon,
one of the must see places in Thailand, is well known
for its cool climate all year round, its ancient forests,
frozen dew (Mae Kha-ning), Delavay’s Rhododendron
(1,000-year roses), wild flowers, wildlife, hilltribe
culture and step farming.
In case of driving by yourself, make sure that your vehicle
is in good condition since you will have to go up and
down steep hills. Although Mt Inthanon is accessible any
time of the year, the best period is between November
and February when it is always fine and clear.
Photos by courtesy
|To reach the summit is
convenient. You can either drive or hire a minibus
labelled Doi Inthanon in English from Mae Klang
Waterfall or Wat Phra That Chom Thong. A regular
minibus running to the Park Headquarters (km 31)
can also be taken at either place at a lower fare.
in Doi Inthanon
At the side of the falls, there is a trekking trail to
the Tourist Service Centre (km 9), where you can admire
the exhibitions of nature and wildlife in Doi Inthanon.
Klang (km 8) is a large waterfall and the
easiest to get to. The waterfall is the first gate
to Doi Inthanon National Park. It is beautiful and
has water all year round; therefore many Thais come
to swim, picnic and relax here on a sunny day.
Borichinda Cave (km
8.5) is located next to Mae Klang Waterfall.
The limestone cave has beautiful stalactites and stalagmites
and a small stream inside. When glittering in the sunlight,
the cave is extremely gorgeous.
Photos by courtesy of TAT
(km 21) is a big waterfall that can be
reached by a short trail from the parking area.
Near the waterfall, the slippery wooden walkway
leading to the cliff is always wet and shrouded
Siriphum (km 30)
-- The twin streams of water flowing down a stiff cliff
can be seen from the Park Headquarters. The waterfall
is located near the Hmong village and is accessible
by foot only.
Park Headquarters & Doi Inthanon Royal Project (km
31) -- Set up to promote highland agriculture
alternatives among the Karens and Hmongs, this Royal
Project features temperate flower, fruit, and vegetable
plots and their nursery labs. You can also visit Hmong’s
flower plots at the front of the Royal Project. Delicious
food made from fresh temperate vegetables and freshly
blended coffee are served at the Royal Project Restaurant.
Hmong Market (km 31)
-- Driving up to Doi Inthanon, you shouldn’t miss
shopping for handmade products, temperate vegetables,
flowers and freshly picked fruits from tribal sellers
dressed in colourful embroidered costume at Hmong Market.
In the outer parts, the two pagodas feature beautiful
tiled murals and vantage points where visitors can see
or photograph a magnificent panoramic view of Doi Inthanon.
The surrounding areas are decorated with beautiful temperate
flowers and plants.
Photos by courtesy of TAT |The
Great Holy Relics Pagoda of Nobhamethanidol-Nabhapolbhumisiri
(km 41.5) are constructed by the Thai Air
Force and Thai people on the auspicious occasion
of King Bhumibol’s 5th cycle birthday in 1987
and Queen Sirikit’s 5th cycle birthday in
1992 respectively. The Buddha’s relics are
kept inside the Nobhamethanidol pagoda.
The Highest Spot in Thailand (km 48)
-- Highway 1009 ends at the highest spot in Thailand
(2,559 m) at the summit of Doi Inthanon. The mountaintop
covered with patches of fog and frosted leaves is breathtaking.
It is where the Radar Station of the Thai Air Force
and the stupa of the last governor of Chiang Mai are
located. And not far from the summit is a Tourist Public
Relations Centre where the stories of Doi Inthanon in
the past are exhibited. Tourists can learn the geography,
biology, and forestry of the area as well as the wildlife
that exists here.
Watching and Trekking in Doi Inthanon
For nature trekkers and bird watchers, many trails
are available in Doi Inthanon, some of which are old
routes used by hilltribes. The cool climate and unique
environment in Doi Inthanon make it home to the largest
number of bird species in Thailand. According to surveys,
there are no less than 380 species of birds living in
the park, mostly in thick evergreen forest between 1,500
and 2,000 m in altitude. Over 190 species are reported
as common residents here. The best places to watch birds
are at the summit and around the bogs. Bird watching
in Doi Inthanon can be done throughout the year.
The baby-feeding period between May and July is a quite
interesting time for bird watchers as well. In August
and September, the rain is a bit of a problem for bird
Photos by courtesy of TAT |The most popular period
is probably during the cold season (October-January)
since migratory birds are found there. Summer time
(February - April) is when most resident species
are calling, singing, and breeding which make them
Uncle Daeng’s Café (km 31)
-- Another recommended place is the Bird Watching Centre
at the Mae Klang Watershed Management Unit, or known
as Uncle Daeng’s Café. This is where advice
from bird watchers from all over the world and information
on birds found in Doi Inthanon, including their route
maps and photographs, are exchanged and kept for the
next generations. Meals and a guide to take you to watch
the birds are available here.
Kiu Mae Pan (km 42)
is a terrific place for those who want to explore the
sub-alpine ecosystem. The trail through the moist evergreen
forest leads the trekkers to see the canyon and creeks.
While walking pass the cliff edge covered with a blanket
of fog, you will see Red Rhododendron, a very rare and
beautiful native flower of the Himalayas and a variety
of rare wild flowers.
Photos by courtesy of TAT |
Photos by courtesy of
The Red Rododendron is in bloom during the period between
December and February. You will also witness some other
native Himalayan plants thriving in an open filed with
green grassland and sunlight. In the cool weather and
scenic shady path, you will hear birds partying on the
big trees. Species commonly found here are Green-tailed
Sunbirds, Flycatchers and Vivid Niltava. Permission
from the National Park Public Relations Centre and a
guide for each group of 15 people are needed before
entering the trail. This 3-km route was given an eco-tourism
award in 2002 as it focuses on the real ecological characteristic
and has signs to provide visitors with useful information.
Kiu Mae Pan is closed from 1 June to 30 October each
Photos by courtesy of TAT |Ang
Ka (km 48), a combination of the highland
peat swamp and hill evergreen forest situated at
the mountaintop, features a special eco-system found
nowhere else. Follow a 400-m-long wooden bridge;
you will be introduced to a unique atmosphere of
Ancient tall lichen-clad trees hidden amid seas of
fog and rare species of flora and fauna together with
hundreds of birds have enticed visitors to the Ang Ka
for many years.The birds’ annual feast begins
in the cold season when wild flowers, especially red
Rhododendrons, dotted the forests. Green-tailed sunbirds,
chestnut-tailed minlas, rufous-winged fulvettas and
several others are commonly found here. This is a real
bird lovers’ paradise.