Highest Mountain in Thailand
The highest mountain in Thailand is called Doi Inthanon (ดอยอินทนนท์), and it is located in Chiang Mai province. The forests surrounding the mountain were classified as a National Park in 1954, and Doi Inthanon is one of the 14 original National Parks of Thailand. The peak of the mountain is at 2565 meters (8415 feet) above sea level. The entire national park covers a massive area involving 482 sq km (300 sq miles) of land. Doi Inthanon has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand, and it is a favorite destination for Thai nationals as well. In 2012 it was rated the best park for hiking in Thailand.
Names for Doi Inthanon
Up until 1972 Doi Inthanon was known as Doi Luang Ang Ka. This can be roughly translated as meaning the big mountain with a reservoir that crows use. Doi Inthanon is also sometimes referred to as simply Doi Luang (big mountain) by Thais who belong to the older generation. The name can also be abbreviated to Doi In. The current name of Doi Inthanon is in memory of Phra Inthawichayano who was once the king of Lanna.
Main Attractions at Doi Inthanon
The main attractions in Doi Inthanon National Park include:
- Mae Ya (น้ำตกแม่ยะ) is the largest waterfall in Doi Inthanon at 260 meters in height and 100 meters in width. It can be found near the 14 km mark into the park.
- Mae Klang (น้ำตกแม่กลาง) is the first waterfall that people will come to when they enter the park – it is approximately 8km from the main entrance. This is a nice place to relax in natural beauty, and there are some food stalls nearby.
- Wachirathan waterfall (น้ำตกวชิรธาร) is the second largest waterfall in the national park and some would claim that it is the most impressive. It is situated at approximately the 21 km mark inside the park.
- Borichinda Cave (ถ้ำบริจินด) can be found not far from Mae Klang waterfall. This limestone cave is full of natural wonders and is considered one of the must see attractions in the park.
- The Hmong market is a good choice for anyone who is looking for products or souvenirs created by members of this hill tribe. This market is situated 17km before the peak of the mountain. It should be noted that there are several different Hmong villages on Doi Inthanon.
- Naphamethinidon (นภเมทินีดล) and Naphaphonphumisiri (นภพลภูมิสิริ) are two Buddhist Chedis that are situated about 7 kms from the peak of Doi In. There are sacred relics inside these structures and so great reverence is paid to these Chedis by the Thais.
- Ang Ka (อ่างกา) is a nature trail near the top of the mountain. Visitors to this area will find the most amazing natural habitat in the whole of Thailand.
- The highlight for visitors to this National Park is usually the peak of the mountain. Sometimes there can be a good deal of fog up there, but the view tends to be breathtaking.
Doi Inthanon Flora and Fauna
Doi Inthanon offers a spectacular selection of flora and fauna. The mountain is surrounded by a lush evergreen forest as well as a deciduous dipterocarp forest – this refers to a species of hardwood trees that can live for a long time and grow to an impressive size. The park is also home to a sphagnum bog which is made up from a special type of peat moss. The area was once home to tigers and bears. Visitors are likely to come across many different forms of wildlife including hundreds of different types of birds. Other creatures worth looking out for include flying squirrels and red toothed shrews.
Bird Watching on Doi Inthanon
Doi Inthanon is a bird watcher’s paradise with over 400 different species of bird to be found there. No other habitat in Thailand offers such variety. The best time of year to go bird watching in the park would be the cold season from October to January. Species worth looking out for include the green-tailed sunbird and the chestnut-crowned Laughing thrush.
Doi Inthanon for Cyclists
Doi Inthanon offers a real challenge for bicycle enthusiasts. The 48 kilometer trek to the top is not for the faint hearted but hardcore cyclists regularly make the trip. Those who cyclists who really want to test their abilities can even join a 10 day tour of North Thailand that includes riding to the summit of the mountain.
Accommodation Options for Doi Inthanon
There are a number of accommodation options for visitors to Doi Inthanon including:
- There is accommodation managed by the National Park in three zones of the park, and this includes rooms and tents. The cost of staying in this accommodation ranges from 225 THB to 6,500 THB.
- Inthanon Riverside Resort is located near the park and offers room for about 3,500 THB per night.
- Touch Star Resort is located on the Jomthong Inthanon Road. It is possible to rent a single cottage for 1,600 THB or rent a full Swiss chalet for 6,000 THB.
- Little Home Hotel is located in Ban luang near the park. It offers reasonably priced accommodation – there is no website but they can be contacted on 053 033-555.
There are also plenty of other resorts, hotels, and camping sites in the local area.
Eating and Drinking Around Doi Inthanon
There are a number of places where people can stop inside the park to eat or drink. Most of the main attractions will have stands selling food beside them. If people want to top their visit to Doi Inthanon off with a sit down meal they can visit one of the restaurants in Ban Khun Klang Village. There is also a large restaurant near the main National Park office.
Admission to Doi Inthanon
The cost of entry is 400 THB for adults and 200 THB for children. There is a less expensive admission price for Thai nationals, and foreigners may be able to get away with paying this if they have a Thai Driver’s license or similar. This admission fee allows tourists to visit the main attractions in the park.
Staying Safe on Doi Inthanon
Doi Inthanon can be a dangerous place if people don’t take necessary precautions. In order to stay safe visitors are advised to:
- It is important to stick to approved trails. If people go off these paths they are in real danger of getting lost in 482 square kilometers of forest.
- Temperatures can drop low during the cold season near the peak. It is important that people bring adequate clothing.
- There are many places selling food and drink in the park, but it is a good idea to carry water and maybe some snacks.
- Walking around Doi Inthanon in slippers or flip-flops can be an uncomfortable experience. It is best to come prepared with sensible shoes.
- People need to be on the lookout for potential dangers such as snakes.
- It is not a good idea to go swimming in any body of water unless the park advises that it is safe to do so. There are several dangers which may be present.
- In order to ensure safety it is best to visit the park as part of a group. Solo visitors can get into trouble if they wander off alone.