Monday, December 9th 2019

1 day trip to the highest peak in Thailand, Doi Inthanon

Chaing Mai is a good starting point for trips around North Thailand. Having wheels is very desirable if not a must here. Of course, we rented a scooter. I don’t ride a moto yet, but I am going there. After studying a couple of guide books, maps and a Golden Triangle Rider site  we got plenty of ideas for day trips. The first was a short ride around Doi Suthep, the closest mountain to Chiang Mai. Doi Inthanon national park was chosen as the next destination.

Doi Inthanon National Park

The map of our route:

View Travel Photo Report – Doi Inthanon, Thailand in a larger map

The plan was to to go in the direction of Chom Thong by road 108 and turn towards the park after Khuang Pao and take road 1009, go around the park visiting various sights, then take road 1824 towards Mae Wang, and return via San Pa tong by 1013, and finally to Chiang Mai.
We woke up early to have an early start as I am not a very experienced rider, so it would take time to get there and around.

The entrance to the park costs 200baht/person and 30/20/10baht for a car/moto/bicycle respectively. We were stopped at a checking point on 1009 road and had to pay our fees. We asked ladies there if we have to pay anything extra in the park, they said No. That was not true as we learnt later.

The first stop on the route was Wachirathan waterfall, probably the most beautiful one in the Doi Inthanon national park. And it is really beautiful.

wachirathan waterfall

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Of course, the place was full of people taking pictures. We decided not to be different ;-)))

we at wachirathan waterfall

There are several viewpoints in front of the waterfall but people mainly crowd in the one which is the closest to the parking lot, few people walk down or up. People are busy taking pictures ;-)

From the upper point stairs lead even higher somewhere to the top of the waterfall. We decided to make a short hike. After 10 min walking we reached the opening in the trees allowing access to the rocky bed of the waterfall. Despite Danger signs it is possible to walk on the stone slopes but barefoot as the water is running almost everywhere. Besides us there were only two other persons, which is quite cool being right next to one of the most visited places in the national park.

upper part of warichathan waterfall

Next stop was Siritan waterfall, though nice to see, but not impressive. After a short stop there we continued along 1009 to the heart of the national park and in the direction of the highest peak in Thailand.

Siritan waterfall

The higher we were climbing the better were views opening over the hills around. Of course, it is not proper high mountains but still very beautiful. We stopped several times to rest and enjoy the landscapes.

Views in Doi Inthanon

We stopped at Kew Mae Pan nature trail. As Mara did not want to do any walk or hike we decided to split: i would to the trail walk and Mara would wait for me at the food stalls next to the starting point of the trail. To my surprise I was informed that I have to hire a guide in order to walk the trail. The price is 200 baht/a guide. The guides dressed in clothes with traditional elements surrounded the check point. I tried to argue but the answer was “No guide, No walk”! As I was along I wanted to negotiate a discount, but the price was final. At this moment I decided to drop the subject and retreat.

Kew Mae Pan nature trail

From this place the road was getting higher and views even more beautiful. It was not too far to the summit of Doi Inthanon. We passed the National Observatory of Thailand on the way.

Doi Inthanon

When we arrived at the top the road was blocked by a military check point and soldiers told us to return. There is radar protected by the military right next to the Doi Inthanon peak and the visitors’center. We parked our scooter on the nearby parking lot and went in the direction of the summit. For some strange reasons Thai people do not let dogs climb the highest peak in Thailand. I wonder why? Let me know if you know the answer.

No dogs on the summit

The highest spot in Thailand is 2 563,3341 meters above Mean Sea level. Hmm….why is the sea level mean. I know such is the term, just sounds funny. Everybody wants to take a picture: me on the highest point. So the spot was quite crowded, and I took a picture of bunch of Thai visitor posing for their friends.

Highest peak in Thailand

Besides this memorial board, a temple and a visitors’ center there is nothing else to see. There are no even gorgeous views from the top as trees are all around.

Was time to return. On the way down our brake got overheated and stopped working from time to time. That was a bit scary on steep mountainous roads. So I had to be very careful hence very slow. We stopped at the national park headquarters, then went in the direction of Mae Wang. The road leads past Siriphum waterfall, which we decided to skip.

The further we went the higher it led. The roads are very curvy, with parts missing due to rains and water going down from the mountains. This was the worst part of the trip. Many places missed good asphalt or were full of pot holes, long stretches of the road were under construction. It took us a lot of time to reach Mae Wang and it was quite tiring, as the road was going up and down. The worst was to go down on gravel with the break which was about to stop working. It took us ages. On one occasion a pick up truck skidded from around the turning on high speed to our side of the road, and it looked like the driver failed to control the car. It looked like head-on crash. Luckily I was going very slowly because of the breaks, and there was space to avoid the collision. But it was not a pleasant feeling understanding that we could have died a moment ago.

Roads in Doin Inthanon Park

The ride became pleasant again once we descended from the hill, the road were more or less straight and even, which was good as I was already quite tired. The only thing we wanted is get back home.

At some moment I saw an elephant and we stopped to have a look. A guy was feeding it. Then we saw more elephants. It was an elephant camp and the elephant were used for trekking.

Little elephant

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We walked a bit further and found about 6 big elephants and one very young. Mara was all excitement saying: It is sooo cute, it is soo cute! Of course, Mara played with it. It was very interesting. I had never been so close to elephants before. The small one took my wrist with its trunk firmly and started pulling me. It took me quite some efforts to free my hands.

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All the elephants were chained and could not move freely. They looked a bit sad or it just seemed to me. Thai guys were unloading heaps of palm tree leaves for their dinner. I had read somewhere that these animals are very often mistreated by their keepers. Eveyone is all about elephant trekking, elephant painting and dancing, but I feel quite bad about what people do to these animals.

It was getting dark and we had to move on. The unexpected meeting with the elephants was the highlight of the whole trip. It is even compensate for the bad roads we had to struggle on. 1 more hour and we arrived at Chiang Mai.

The trip was long and tiring but well worth doing it. There are more things to do and see in the area of Doi Inthanon and Mae Wang than what we did during 1 day trip. A visit may be organized as 2 day/1 night trip. We saw some really cool guest houses on the hills.

What to see in Doi Inthanon national park:

    • Mae Klang waterfall (100 baht/person)
    • Mae Ya waterfall
    • Siriphum waterfall (extra payment)
    • Borichinda cave
    • Doi Inthanon Summit
    • Pagodas: Phra Mahathat Chedi Nophamethanidol & Noppholbhumisiri Phra Mahathat (40 baht/person)
    • Wang Kwai waterfall
    • Siritan waterfall
    • Suan Moss Homdoi garden
    • Mokkalan Temple
    • Ban MaeKlang Luang village

Nature trails in Doi Inthanon park:

    • Kiu Mae Pan trail
    • Siriphum waterfall trail
    • Borichinda cave trail
    • Ban Sop Had – Ban Mae Klang Luang trail

Attractions in Mae Wang are:

    • Mae Wang elephant camp (www.elephanttrip)
    • Bamboo rafting along Mae Wang river
    • Luan Khun Win temple

There are many agricultural projects in the area which can be visited, growing flowers, strawberries, plums, peaches, apples, tea & coffee. You will have a chance to buy these products in small markets along roads. I was very surprised at the price of 40 baht for a big pack of oolong tea, for example. Strawberries are not cheap though.

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2 Comments on “1 day trip to the highest peak in Thailand, Doi Inthanon”

  1. […] in the Northern Thailand are not very high. The highest peak Doi Inthanon is only 2 655 meters. The green hills covered in lush vegetation are rolling away to the horizon. […]

  2. […] we came across an elephant camp during our trip to the Doi Inthanon I had even stronger doubts about elephant entertainments. The camp is located right next to the […]

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