Top Things To Do In Doi Inthanon National Park

  • Recently Updated: November 2022
doi inthanon national park

Doi Inthanon National Park was the first forest park that I’ve visited in Thailand. Before going to Doi Inthanon in Chiang Mai, I had totally imagined the national park to be like off the beaten path along with slippery treacherous terrain but I was wrong.

Sometimes all we need to do is to create a space from our busy routines and to simply enjoy the beauty of nature, which Doi Inthanon National Park totally provides.

So, what to do in Doi Inthanon? Outdoor things to do such as hiking nature trails, discovering waterfalls, wildlife and its wonderful ecosystem makes the national park a fantastic spot to visit.

Thailand has tons of parks, ranging from elephant nature parks and mountains mostly in the northern provinces. Having gone chasing waterfalls and learning about the ethnic Karen people, these unique vacation places found in Doi Inthanon had been an awesome experience for me.

Weather In Chiang Mai

Up north to the Rose of Thailand, the weather conditions are pretty much the same as Central Thailand. It gets dry from November to May with limited rain. Sometimes, a torrential shower will hit the region but only for short period followed by sunny weather.

From March to June, the weather gets really hot and humid even though the region is densely forested with some of the highest mountain ranges in Thailand. The mercury level will start hitting 32°C to 35°C+ and that’s when you feel really sweaty and irritated.

The rainy seasons starts from mid June to October brought in by the south-west monsoon. The coldest months are from November to January. It’s also called a winter month whereby temperature can go as low as 10°C at Doi Inthanon National Park.

How To Go From Chiang Mai To Doi Inthanon

Doi Inthanon National Park is approximately 70km from Chiang Mai city. The highest peak in Thailand at 2,565m (8,415ft) with stunning viewpoints, sunrise and sunset and much more.

Doi Inthanon is pretty much close-by to Chiang Mai’s downtown area. The new Liap Khlong Chonprathan Road cuts the overall trip time in half, from roughly three hours to 1.5 to 2 hours.

Renting a car to drive up there is quite easy. The roads are wide and comfortable for any foreign tourist. There are some amazing Instagram-able viewpoints along the way for photo-taking.  

You can also take a public shuttle bus. From Chiang Mai Gate Station, take the minibus to Chom Thong District. Then board another minibus to Doi Inthanon from Wat Phra That Si Chom Thong Worawihan. 

At about 9am, the park begins to fill up, so you might want to leave your hotel in Chiang Mai a little earlier in the morning to avoid the crowd visiting the attractions at Doi Inthanon..

Best attractions I would suggest… 

  • Wild Himalayan Cherry blossoms. – Wild Himalayan Cherry Blossoms can be found at Doi Pha Tang Royal Villa. Only from the middle of January to the end of the month does it blossom.
  • Elephant Sanctuary  – Visit Meaklang Elephant Sky Camp, a 5-star rated Ethical Elephant Sanctuary.
  • Chiang Mai Grand Canyon – A man-made canyon converted into a water park, and the view from the summit is simply breathtaking.

Best Time To Visit

The best time to go there is from November – early February but for me it’s in the beginning of the year where the temperature range from 10 – 20°C.

Although it may be humid in Chiang Mai city area, the weather is cool and refreshing up here at Doi Inthanon.

At this time, the National park turns into pink due to Wild Himalayan Cherry blossoms. The waterfalls are flowing beautifully and the lush forest are as green as ever.

Best time for hiking and trekking, spend a night in the tribal village or enjoy the blue skies which is perfect for sightseeing and sounds of nature calling.  

Doi Ithanon is best visited in November but due to Thailand’s local holiday season, expect heavy traffic jam leading to the National Park. The trick is to visit the park just before or after the Thai holidays.

Worst Time To Visit

 
 
 
 
 
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The worst time to be here is from mid March to end of April when farmers burn their fields for new crops planting season.

The smog can get really terrible and blankets vast areas. Even wearing a mask won’t really helps. 

The coldest weather in Doi Ithanon can be experienced in the winter months. Dew can even solidify and the grass and plants along the road are covered in frost.

November is the nation’s holiday period whereby local visitors from all over Thailand comes in droves. 

Going up to Doi Inthanon National Park will be jam-packed. Traffic is a drag and finding parking spot might take a long time.

It turns pretty much into a theme park like Disneyland with most of the local’s vehicles cramped into the parking area. 

Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail 

The parking area connects you to the  awesome Kew Mae Pan hiking trail. The route is accessible from October 31st to the end of the summer season. However, it’ll be closed during the rainy season since the trial is muddy and difficult to trek on.

Doi Inthanon hiking and trekking rules allow foreign visitors to be registered and accompanied by a Hmong tribal guide. This is to ensure you won’t get lost or displace the national park. There is a small entrance fee of 200 Baht which include a local guide as well. 

This trail is suitable for anyone who love scenic hiking. It’s 2,700km long with panoramic views, cascading waterfalls and being close to nature. It’s a ascending trek so you have to pace yourself in this one.

You start with a cool hike along the lush forest and around an hour upwards, the landscape change into a semi Alpine shrubland where the terrain is dry and open. From here, looking downward and the magnificent Royal Twin Pagodas will appear on site. 

There are beautiful viewpoints and flower gardens along the way. Further ahead, lies a rock cliff but the edge are fence-up to prevent any accident. Finally, you’ll arrive at the King and Queen’s stupa built for their 60th birthdays.

As I am not an avid trekker, it took me approximate 4hours on a normal pace to complete the trail but a fit person can do it in 2 hours.

So, your return trek will bring you back to the parking area. Along the way, you can detour to  Doi Pha Tang Royal Villa known for it’s cherry blossoms.

If you’re completely washout by now, what I did was to make arrangement with my local tour guide to pick me up in his comfortable SUV. So yeah, it was a short cut for a deserving break for me.

Pha Dok Siew Nature Trail

This Doi Inthanon hiking trail is roughly 366 meters long boardwalk and is located at a height of around 2,500 meters above sea level.

It take 20 mins – 30 mins to complete depending on your hiking pace. But if you’re on a family adventure trip or an avid shutterbug, it may take an hour or so.

The weather is mild throughout the year because it’s surrounded by evergreen forest and it gets pretty chill in the cold months.

Some uncommon plants and wildlife native to this ecosystem are Rhododendron, Sphagnum Moss, Ferns, Common European White-toothed Shrew, Pere David’s Vole, Green-tailed Sunbird, other plants and harmless animals.

After a heavy rainstorm, the water that have been collected in the ground will be released and eventually accumulated into various creeks which will eventually flows to the Ping River. So yeah, you’ll be protected from floods if caught in a sudden downpour.

The first part of the hike is quite simple. The trail descends into a pine tree-filled forest. Along the trail, there are informational boards.

Nearby, the route takes you a few stairways down to the waterfall where you will be greeted by greenhouses filled with marigolds.

Upon arrival at the parking zone, it will be super packed with vehicles in the peak season (local Thai holiday) but very marginal in the normal season. 

Top attraction:

The Doi Inthanon Royal Project accommodations are pretty awesome. The cost per night include a sumptuous breakfast. There is no need for air conditioning because the weather is so pleasant.

The room has complimentary roasted ground coffee beans and a French press, so you can have a super fresh cup of coffee while taking in the scenery from the balcony.

This place is totally refreshing with farms, garden, ponds and a restaurant that only serve fresh produce. A secret waterfall location for you to relax and recover from any epidemic.

Tip:

Unfortunately, the best month (November) falls on the peak season whereby tons of local tourists will be flocking here. You plan your travel on non peak season to save costs, avoid crowds and most of all, having your trip all to yourself.

Planning outdoor activities to do in Doi Inthanon National Park is not about a picture-perfect trip but it has to be safe, smooth sailing and a memorable experience to cherish. Like they say, difficult routes always takes you to beautiful destinations.

Does all the above sounds like a hassle to you? The most stress-free approach is to engage a freelance local guide. All the licensed guides in Chiang Mai speaks standard English and provides a respectable clean car or minivan.

Resource For Your Next Trip To Chiang Mai

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