Before heading to Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail, I had totally imagined Doi Inthanon mountain range to be like off the beaten path along with slippery treacherous terrain but I was wrong.
So why trek the Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail? Experiencing Chiang Mai natural attractions, discovering stunning waterfalls, and its wonderful ecosystem makes Kew Mae Pan one of the great vacation spots in northern Thailand.
Thailand has tons of parks, ranging from elephant parks and mountains mostly in the northern provinces. Having gone chasing waterfalls and learning about the ethnic Karen people, the Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail located in Doi Inthanon had been a pretty awesome experience.
How To Get From Chiang Mai Town To Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail
The parking area connects you to the stunning Kew Mae Pan nature trail. The famous hiking trail 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’s 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 in 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 outdoor adventure. It’s 2,700km long with breathtaking panoramic views, cascading waterfalls, beautiful attractions and close to nature. It’s a ascending trek so you have to pace yourself in this one.
You start with a cool trek along the lush forest and around an hour upwards, the landscape change into a semi Alpine shrubland, whereby 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 edges 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 its cherry blossoms.
If you are still keen to trek more, the adjacent Pha Dok Siew Trail is roughly 366 meters long boardwalk and at a height of around 2,500 meters above sea level.
It take 20 to 30 mins to complete the trail 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 native plants and harmless wildlife.
After a heavy rainstorm, the water that have been collected in the ground will be released and eventually accumulated into various creeks which will then 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 waterfalls 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.
Where To Stay Near Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail
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 pretty 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 can easily be reached by foot.
Best Time To Visit
The best time to trek Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail is from November to early February, but for me it’s in the beginning of the year where the temperature range from 10 – 20°C.
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.
Besides hiking and trekking, you can also spend a night in the tribal village or enjoy the blue skies which is perfect for sightseeing and experience nature at its best.
Kew Mae Pan is best to trek 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
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 will be jam-packed. Traffic is a drag and finding a 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.
Unfortunately, the best month (November) falls on the peak season whereby tons of local tourists will be flocking here. Best is to plan your Chiang Mai vacation on non peak season to save costs, avoid crowds and most of all, having your trip all to yourself.
Planning a hike at Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail is not about a picture-perfect experience 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.
Your Travel Planner:
- Choose accommodations from top booking platform with free cancellation
- Rent yourself a comfortable car for trips to top attractions