Doi Inthanon National Park

Home to the highest point in Thailand and several fantastic waterfalls, Doi Inthanon National Park is a must see when visiting Chiang Mai. To fully appreciate the park, an overnight stay is recommended.

At a height of 2,565 metres, Doi Inthanon is officially the tallest mountain in Thailand. The park was created in 1954 along with 13 others, creating the first group of national parks in Thailand. The main attractions are the summit, and nature trails just below. There are also several significant waterfalls in the area, Mae Ya is the largest waterfall in the park, and a contender for the most spectacular waterfall in Thailand. Other notable waterfalls are Wachirathan, Mae Klang, Sirithan, Mae Pan and Huay Saai Lueang.

The park is conveniently located just an hours drive south of Chiang Mai City. Most people take day trips to Doi Inthanon which can be booked from the old city in Chiang Mai, these are ok if you are short of time, but you need at least 2 days to fully appreciate both the area around the summit, and the waterfalls. Accommodation in the park consists of national park bungalows and campgrounds, privately owned campsites and small privately owned bungalow style resorts.

Camping at Doi Inthanon

Cool temperatures, fresh mountain air, and stunning views make Doi Inthanon National Park the perfect place for camping under the stars. Camping in Doi Inthanon consists of national park campgrounds and privately owned camps. All have good facilities such as toilets, showers and simple restaurants.

The national park campgrounds are located next to the royal agricultural project, not far from the start of the summit road, and another one near Huai Saai Lueng and Mae Pan Waterfalls. The campground next to the waterfalls is great for people who are hiking the fantastic jungle trails in the area. Tents, mats and sleeping bags are available to hire from the lodges at both campsites.

doi inthanon campingCamping at Doi Inthanon National Park

Sureya Mountain Veiw campsite is located on the side of a hill overlooking the royal horticultural project and valleys below. Just across the valley, Siribhume Waterfall is in view, along with mountains far in the distance. In the evenings you are treated to a spectacular light show as the flower farm turns on its lights, which light up the whole valley, creating a unique atmosphere around the camp. There are also several wooden bungalows available, above the camping area. To get to the camp, follow signs for the Royal Project and Siribhume Waterfall, instead of turning left for the waterfall, keep going up the hill and the camp will be on your right. The camp is near the parks headquarters at the bottom of the summit road.

Doi Inthanon Summit

Doi Inthanon is Thailand’s highest mountain standing at 2,565 metres. Despite the height, it is easily accessed by a well maintained, twisty mountain road running all the way to the summit. On the summit itself, there is a small viewing platform and large wooden plaque, which is a popular spot for taking photos at the highest spot in Thailand. There is also an army base here, next to the large car park at the top.

doi inthanon summitPlaque marking the highest point in Thailand

The best views are from the temple slightly further down the mountain, where there are two attractive chedis, and manicured gardens. There is also a nature trail called Kew Mae Pan which is slightly further down the road from the temple, there are spectacular views from here, the trail is 2.8 km long and although short, it is considered to be one of the best walks in Thailand.

Just below the carpark at the summit there is nature trail called Ang Ka which is a board walk around 400 metres long. It leads through the highest swamp in Thailand and is a fantastic birdwatching site attracting birders from all over the world. The main feathered attractions are the greentailed sunbird, the chestnut-headed minla, and the shy-throated warbler. The forest tree’s are covered in moss with ferns, orchids and a whole host of other damp loving plants providing an enchanted scene looking more like a movie set. Occasionally small mammals such as leopard cats and rodents can be seen hiding in the foliage.

doi inthanon national parkAng Ka nature trail, near to the summit of Doi Inthanon

Due to the height, Doi Inthanon has a weather system of its own and can feel cold throughout the year. It is recommended to bring warmer clothes to the summit of Inthanon such as a lightweight jacket or fleece, and walking trousers. Anyone who is riding a motorbike to the summit will definitely need warmer clothes, and gloves are recommended in the cool season.

The mountain views are best seen in the cool season from November to March when the sky is clear and blue. During the height of the rainy season the view will be mostly cloudy but does clear from time to time. Kew Mae Pan nature trail is closed from 1st June – 31st October. These are not major disappointments as you can spend more time at Inthanons waterfalls which are a must-see during the wet season, and you will have them mainly to yourselves as there are far less tourists around.

Doi Inthanons Waterfalls

Doi Inthanon national park has several fantastic waterfalls, The best time to view the waterfalls is from July – December. After December the waterfalls start to dry out and are not as spectacular as the wet season. The wet season is Thailand is from June – October but can vary from year to year.

Mae Ya Waterfall

Mae Ya Waterfall is the most spectacular waterfall in Doi Inthanon National Park, and well into the top 5 in the whole of Thailand. Visit during the wet season and be amazed by the awesome sights and sounds

Doi Inthanon has a lot of great waterfalls and Mae Ya has to be the pick of the bunch. There is probably only one more waterfall in the whole of Thailand that can compare with the sheer size and beauty of Mae Ya, and that’s Thi Lor Su Waterfall further south in Tak province. The falls are around 50 metres wide and 60 metres high, but actually look much taller as the rocks that the water cascades down are on a gradual slope.

mae ya waterfall doi inthanonMae Ya, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Thailand

The falls are at their peak during the rainy season between June and October but water flows all year round. Bathing is possible at the foot of the falls, depending on water levels, but climbing the rocks is not recommended. The falls are easily reached via a short nature trail starting from the car park, with an unforgettable moment in store, when you first lay eyes on them.

Mae Ya waterfall is located in the south of Doi Inthanon National Park. To get there head for Chom Thong district, then follow the signs for Mae Ya Waterfall, which are a further 15 kilometers along a paved road. Once at the parking area, the falls are a 10 minute walk along a nature trail at the side of the river.

Mae Klang Waterfall

Mae Klang is a popular waterfall in the south east of Doi Inthanon National Park. The waterfall is surrounded by a picturesque river and gardens which make a great place for an early morning stroll or afternoon picnic.

Mae Klang WaterfallMae Klang waterfall

Mae Klang is a popular waterfall located next to the main entrance in the south of Doi Inthanon National Park. Water cascades around 30 metres down jagged rocks, then finds its way into the river below. The Mae Klang River is large and it is possible to explore up and downstream the waterfall via well trodden trails, though care must be taken especially during the rainy season when there are strong rapids in the river. There is a more relaxing area to bathe near the car parking area, along with seating area’s and market style stalls.

Mae Klang Waterfall is in the south east of Doi Intahnon National Park near the first check point gate. From main highway 108, turn onto the main road that runs through Doi Inthanon (1009), after around 7km, the turning for Mae Klang will be on your left. It is well sign posted and has a large car park. The falls are a 5 minute walk from the parking area.

Wachirathan Waterfall

Wachirathan Waterfall is a dramatic waterfall often decorated with stunning rainbows during the wet season. The falls are easily accessed from the main road running through the park.

wachirathan waterfall doi inthanonWachirathan waterfall

Wachirathan Waterfall is easily accessible from the main road running through Doi Inthanon National Park. The main fall is around 50 metres high, and during the wet season, it is pretty spectacular to say the least. The viewing area around the main falls gets covered in spray which can lead to colorful rainbows if the sun is out. The area has a dramatic feel to it, with a sense of danger in the air, two people have fallen to their deaths here taking photographs, stick to the paths and there will be no problem. There are 2 main viewing platforms and walking trails to the side and bottom areas of the falls.

To get to Wachirathan Waterfall, follow the main road, the 1009, running through the middle of the park. The falls are well sign posted, and are located just off the road around 8km from the south entrance to Doi Inthanon National Park. There is a large car park and due to the convenient location and dramatic nature of the falls, it can get very busy, especially during the high tourist season.

Sirithan Waterfall

Sirithan waterfall is an awesome sight during the wet months. There is a path leading down to the river so you can get a front row seat to this impressive waterfall.

sirithan waterfallSirithan waterfall

Sirithan is an attractive waterfall with very easy access from the main road which passes through Doi Inthanon National Park. There is a viewing platform just a minutes walk from the carpark, and also a small trail which goes to the bottom of the falls. If there has been a lot of rain, you must be careful going down the small trail as it is very slippy, and if you decide to walk further up the river to the base of the falls, you are in danger of flash floods.

To get to Sirithan Waterfall, follow the main road through the park, the 1009, and you will see the large sign at the side of the road. The falls are located roughly in the center of the park between the main gates at the north and south. Another great waterfall close by is Wachirathan Waterfall.

Siribhume Royal Gardens

Siribhume royal gardens and waterfall is hidden behind the small village near the royal agricultural project. The attractive gardens are home to a small river, waterfall, and an abundance of colourful trees and ferns.

siribhume royal gardenSiribhume Royal Gardens

Siribhume Royal Garden is located at the back of the village next to the Royal Agricultural Project, and also near the parks headquarters and campground. If you are travelling on the main road through Doi Inthanon National Park (1009) you should turn right before the summit road and then follow the signs to Siribume Waterfall.

The attractive gardens have a large variety of ferns and other plants, a waterfall towards the back, and a stream running through the entire length of the gardens. There is a small trail leading up to a higher section where there is another waterfall. Here water cascades down the rock face of the mountain, but it is best viewed in the surrounding valleys of the area. Judging by the amount of pipes, you would think the whole village gets their water supply from here, and whoever laid the pipes deserves some kind of medal as it is really unforgiving ground up there.

How to get to Doi Inthanon National Park

Doi Inthanon National park, in Chiang Mai Province, is conveniently located next to highway 108 which is a main highway in and out of Chiang Mai.

To get to the park from Chiang Mai, take highway 108, head south to Hang Dong, then Doi Lo, then onto Chom Thong where you will turn right onto the 1009 which will take you directly to the entrance checkpoint gate. The journey from Chiang Mai is very easy and takes around 1 hour.

To get there from Mae Hong Son Town, take the 108 heading south until you get to Khun Yuam district, then you can turn left onto the 1263, follow the road for around 50km, then turn right onto the 1088 heading for Mae Chaem. Once at Mae Chaem, take the 1192 to the parks north eastern gate. If you like road trips, this is a fantastic route through the mountains and should only be attempted by confident drivers. A phrase book and mobile phone should also be taken along with a tank full of fuel. The route is suitable for motorbikes, preferably 250cc or over. The journey takes up to 3 hours and its best enjoyed from November – February.

Photo Guide – Doi Inthanon National Park

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