Strike the roof of Thailand at Doi Inthanon
Another highlight of Chiang Mai that anyone must not miss visiting while taking a trip to this famous tourist city. Well, a place that we would love to introduce you is ” Doi Inthanon” which along the route through this mountain range is rich in its tourism resource for you to visit without getting bored.
About Doi Inthanon
Doi Inthanon or Inthanon Peak locates in Chom Thong district, Chiang Mai which is former name as “Doi Luang” or “Doi Luang Ang Ga”. The name “Inthanon” is a title of a king, “Phra Chao Inthawichayanon, the sovereign ruler of Chiang Mai in the past. The king concerned in the forest in the northern territory and tried to preserve it. After he passed away, a part of his ashes was housed at a stupa over the top of Doi Luang, and the mount was renamed to commemorate to the king.
Tallest mountain in Thailand:
Doi Inthanon considers as the highest mountain in Thailand with about 2,565 meters in its height. The location is diverse in topography with various type of wood – tropical rainforest, pine wood, and mixed deciduous forest. And the site is cold climate all through the year specifically in the winter season that the place being covered with the fog all day and it might be the frosty phenomenon in the early morning which often exhilarating to the tourists during the high season.
Getting to the top of mountain:
The journey to the top of Inthanon Peak with the distance about 106 km is a good paved road; nonetheless it is quite steep and slope. So, for anyone who travels by own car it is highly recommended that you need a good condition of the vehicle. On the other hand, the tourist can get the pick-up truck service that is available at the Mae Klang Waterfall. Also, there’s an accommodation operated by the National Park for the visitors, as well.
In addition, the space around the area of National Park Doi Inthanon consists of many waterfalls and nature trails that are worthwhile for you to check-in. For example, Mae Ya Waterfall, Mae Klang Waterfall, and Vajiratharn Waterfall. The exciting nature trails are Kew Mae Pan, Ang Ga, and Pha Dok Siew Waterfall nature trail.
Kew Mae Pan, the paradise on the cloud-kissing range.
The remarkable nature trail of Doi Inthanon “Kew Mae Pan-Doi Inthanon” is right up to the side of the road at the 42nd burrstone. On the bright sunny day with clear sky, the place allows us with the remote appearance of Doi Hua Sue’s top, too. Any visitors who would like to experience this nature trail have to contact the tourist center at the national park for the guiding officer.
The perfect time to make the path at Kew Mae Pan is during December – January annually and between June – October the location is out of service in order to recover the forest. Along the 3-km of the trail at Kew Mae Pan with approximately at least 2 hours’ walk, the route divided into 4 main parts.
Once we take the first part of the trail, we will explore the montane forest which is the shady and moisture wood and covered with moss and lichen. After we walk through several creeks on the path that created by the national park office which continues to slope down along the edge of the cliff.
Besides rich in its ecosystem for the traveler to explore, Kew Mae Pan is also another best spot to catch the dawn and the sea of fog in the early morning that you should not miss. The sunrise viewpoint at Kew Mae Pan features the stunning scenery with the two magnificent pagodas. The picturesque scene of the sun is rising over the pagodas is such a breath-taking moment that is worthy of waking up before the first light of the day.
Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail
From the sunrise watching area, the path starts to be narrower until it allows only one person to walk. And this spot is called “Kew Mae Pan” the peak viewpoint of the location. Along the way, you will see the various size of the trees included the Rhododendron which is lovely blooming in red to welcome the visitors during the wintertime.
When you are walking descending from the top and turn around you would see the bright golden meadow nestles in the gentle sea of fog with the greenish towering mountain range and clear blue sky as a background and the lovely warm light of the sunrise. So, it could say that the 3 kilometers with 3 hours’ walk along the pleasant journey of Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail would be one of your most precious moment of the trip in Chiang Mai, certainly.
Well, waking up in the early morning and have a walk through the cold weather to discover this fantastic place like this is so enjoyable and worthwhile. The Nature Trail at Kew Mae Pan opens for the visitors during November – May and the perfect time to take a trip is in the morning. So, making an accommodation nearby the site is a good idea. There is the different selection of the guesthouse that the tourist can take along the route of Doi Inthanon. For instance, the guesthouse at the National Park Doi Inthanon, Ban Mae Klang Luang, Doi Sure Ya Resort & Camping, etc. Otherwise, you can travel to reach the peak in the morning.
The Must-Not-Miss Spots at Doi Inthanon
1. The Summit of Doi Inthanon
From Kew Mae Pan, traveling up to the summit of Doi Inthanon of which the area called “Ang Ga Luang” since there is a large basin that full of water all year, also a huge rock looks similar to a crow (Ga in Thai mean crow) stands over there. Not far from the parking which is the radar station of Royal Thai Air Force and keeps walking for a while you will notice the signage states that ” The Highest Spot of Siam” that is quite crowded in usual as it is the must not miss photo spot.
Next, it is the venue of the stupa that houses the ashes of Chao Inthawichayanon, the former ruler of Chiang Mai city and the origin of the mount’s title. Then, it is a spot to show the height of the peak in which is 2,565.3341 meters above the sea level. And besides, that is the wooden bridge that crosses over the green hill forest that is covered with moss and lichen makes it look like the pre-historical forest. And further is a coffee shop and grove of Azalea or rhododendron that being bloom in the winter.
2. Royal Agricultural Station Inthanon
Beautiful Scenery of fruits and flowers:
The Royal Agricultural Station Inthanon is a research center of temperatures flowers, ornamental plants, and fruits. The highlight of the place is “80 th Anniversary Garden which is furnished with different winter flowers and lots of greenhouses to demonstrate the variety of plants such as orchid, fern, azalea garden, begonia, including the vegetable greenhouse.
Apart from that, the Royal Agricultural Station Inthanon offers the lovely accommodation with facilities and restaurant where the place serves a broad array of delicious menus that cook from the fresh and quality ingredients from the royal project farm, especially fresh vegetables.
Presently, the Royal Agricultural Station Inthanon brought in the Rainbow Trout and Sturgeon that both are the cold zone climate fish to propagate at the research center and the project is going well as both of the fish are compatible to the environment and water upon Doi Inthanon. The source of the water must be one that origins from Siriphum Waterfall that accepted as the pure natural spring. And for those who are environmentally conscience as of the rainbow trout and sturgeon might be the alien species of the ecosystem in Doi Inthanon. The station does not ignore it by building the fish pond that is strong enough together with the metal grill to prevent the fish from getting into the natural water source.
Nice place with good food:
Be in the public eye that the sturgeon produces the spawn that processes to be “caviar “. And just so you know, the trout’s roe also makes the caviar! In fact, “caviar” means the flavored fish roe; nonetheless the best is sturgeon though. The caviar produced at the Royal Agricultural Station Inthanon is “black caviar” and “orange caviar”. The officer says that the black caviar derives from the sturgeon with outstanding care for up to 9 years to be ready for the processing.
The restaurant at the royal project Inthanon serves the customers with a broad array of food and drinks for breakfast and lunch, and for the dinner time, the place operates between 6.00-8.00pm. The menus served here are delectable and mouth-watering specific the roasted coffee duck the highlight here that you can’t miss to taste.
The Royal Agricultural Station Inthanon locates at Khun Klang Village, Huay Luang sub-district which is on the way to the Inthanon Peak at the 31 km of the highway number 1009. Then, gets the right fork and head forward in about 1 kilometer to the destination.
During the tourist season, if the tourist can book the accommodation at the royal project here would be so fantastic because the guesthouse of the royal project is well-known as the lovely accommodation especially at Doi Inthanon and Doi Ang Kang that are environed with the beautiful atmosphere.
The cottage at the Royal Agricultural Station Inthanon nestled next to the flower garden and allocated into 2 zones. The one is adjacent to a restaurant and the agricultural station. The cottage style is ideal for 2 guests with the price at THB1,500 per unit included buffet style breakfast. And if you visit the place in January, you would see the changing color of maple leaves at the front of the building.
3. Naphamethinidon and Naphaphonphumisiri Pagodas
Another must not miss attraction for the trip in Doi Inthanon are the two significant pagodas Naphamethinidon and Naphaphonphumisiri. The two chedis were built by the collaboration of the Royal Thai Air Force and the citizen of Thailand in the occasion to celebrate the 60 th birthday anniversary of the belated King Bhumiphol in 1987 for the Naphamethinidon Chedi, and Naphaphonphumisiri Chedi is the 60th birthday anniversary of Queen Sirikit of the Rama IX in 1992. At the pinnacle of both chedis enshrine the Buddha’s relics and the worshipped Buddha images.
4. The Viewpoint at the 41st KM
This is one of the famous venues to watch the sunrise and the sea of fog in Doi Inthanon which is before the pagodas site and on the way to reach the summit of Inthanon Mountain. The location is favored among the tourists to witness the breaking dawn in the early morning.
5. Ban Mae Klang Luang Village
A local village called “Ban Mae Klang Luang” nestles in the valley of the terraced rice field on Inthanon mountain. The resident is Karen (Sgaw Karen or Sgaw Kayin) or also renowned as White Karen or Paganyaw. Besides the visitors can experience the rustic way of life of the villagers, the pure and lovely landscape of the place with the terrace farming which is the folk wisdom of the mountaineers also a good thing that you would love to imprint in your memory for the trip to Doi Inthanon.
6. Ban Pha Mon
A medium size village cuddled by the mountain range. Ban Pha Mon Village where is close to Ban Mae Klang Luang is another place to visit in Doi Inthanon path. The highlight of this village is the homestay accommodation “Bamboo Pink House”, a community resort in the cottage style at the edge of the hill with the picturesque panorama of the terrace farm and pure natural environment included the winter flower plot in the middle of the rice field. And the place is not nice only in the winter season that you can see the blooming flower, despite the greenish rice farm spread over the hill is not less in its beauty as well.
Apart from the terrace rice farm, the visitors can enjoy the moment at this lovely site by strolling around the village to explore the daily routine of the Karen such as textile weaving, farming, organic farming, flower plot, winter fruits, etc. The best time to visit Ban Pha Mon is from the mid of September through the middle of October and the harvest period which you would see the golden rice field is between late of October to the early of November.
7. Mae Ya Waterfall
Mae Ya Waterfall is a significant fall that situates within the area of the National Park Doi Inthanon. The fall considered as one of the most magnificent waterfalls in Thailand is elegant, marvelous, also the highest one among the waterfalls in Doi Inthanon. Whoever visits the highest mountain of Thailand should not miss to check-in this location.
The strong water flies from the high steep cliff and runs in descending order over 30 levels of the rock with more than 260 meters high. During the rainy season, the fall will expand up to 100 meters looks similar to the water curtain and flows down to the basin underneath. The beautiful cascade features the overhanging rock as a shelter for the tourist from the splash and projects the splendid picture of the water diffuses over the area.
The Other Sightseeing Next Door to Inthanon
1. Royal Project Development Center Khun Wang
The Royal Project Development Center Khun Wang nestles in the high mountain resulted in the beautiful environment and pleasant climate all through the year. The location features the visitors with the agricultural demonstration farm with the staff of the royal project guides you all along the program.
The interesting things at the royal project here are the winter fruit farm, coffee plantation, coffee bean pulping house, and demonstration farm of macadamia. Also, the visitors would see the gorgeous Wild Himalaya Cherry Blossom at the site which decorates the place to be vibrant pink in the winter, in particular in January.
Moreover, enjoy the bird watching that you will discover the diverse species of the bird since this royal project site is in the same range of Doi Inthanon where the place is one of the important bird-watching spots of the country.
The Wild Himalaya Cherry Blossom Spots at the Royal Project Development Center Khun Wang are
- At the front of the center around the area of the winter flower plots.
- The highlight spot which is the cherry blossom tunnel. It is further from the restaurant and coffee shop inside the royal project.
2. Paphiopedilum Orchid Conservation Center, Doi Inthanon
The orchid conservation center locates within the area of the National Park Doi Inthanon. The center is a project from the initiative of HM Queen Sirikit of the Rama IX. The center serves as the research center and propagation the Paphiopedilum orchid – Paphiopedilum villosum (Lady Slipper Inthanon) that is flawless, beautiful orchid, however, it is becoming extinct.
Also, the place is a learning center for those whom interesting in the orchids. The venue is landscaped beautifully with the flower and orchid gardens, no doubt the place lures many tourists to visit and fall for the site quickly. Every year in January, besides the perfect time to see the beautiful orchids the visitors will see the blossom Wild Himalaya Cherry stand at the lakeside. So-called the magnificent scenery you should not miss, should you?
3. Mae Jon Luang
The Royal Project Development Center Mae Jon Luang that cuddled by the mountain range. The cold climate resulted in the place is perfect for the winter flowers and fruits planting. The visitors can enjoy the various plants that are seasonal rotating to grow in the demonstration farm all year round. So, you will experience the charm of this place whenever your visit whether the lovely blooming flowers and tasty fruits freshly picked from the tree.
4. Mon Nong Kae
Mon Nong Kae or known as “Doi Pha Tang Sheep Farm” locates close to Doi Pha Tang Palace within the terrain of the National Park Doi Inthanon. The place is a sheep farm under the administration of the Royal Project Foundation, the sub-station Pha Tang base. The site is surrounded with the towering mountain range with the stunning view and pleasant climate.
The hundreds of sheep are free to enjoy themselves over the vast grass field hidden in the middle of the greenish valley that is similar to the sheep farm in New Zealand. If you come to Mon Nong Kae in January, you would see the hill is covered with the pink Wild Himalaya Cherry, too.
How to get to Doi Inthanon
The distance from Chiang Mai town to the peak of Doi Inthanon is approximately 106 km. From the city drives on the highway number 198 (Chiang Mai – Chom Thong) until arrives at the burrstone 57th km about 1 km before Chom Thong district. Then, make the right turn to enter the road number 1009 (Chom Thong – Inthanon) with about 48 km to reach the summit of the mountain. It is the paved road, however quite steep; therefore, the vehicle should be in good condition with a skillful driver.
By Public Bus:
The tourist can get the pick-up truck service route Chiang Mai – Chom Thong which available at Chiang Mai city gate. Then, transit to the pick-up truck at the front of Wat Phra That Sri Chom Thong Waravihara or at Mae Klang Waterfall that is the public transport station to the office of the national park (the burrstone 31st km) and other neighboring villages. If you would like to go to other destination you have to charter the service with is about THB800 of fee (the price may be varied so you should negotiate before getting the service).