Member / Vendor Login

Plan My Trip

Doi Inthanon Mountain

Country
Thailand
State
Chiang Rai
City
Doi Inthanon
Type of Location
Mountain
About Location

Doi Inthanon is Thailand's highest mountain and its summit has the only true upper montane forest and sphagnum bog in the country. This granite massif with adjoining limestone outcrops is on the periphery of the mountaintop "islands" that stretch southeast from the Himalayas. Inthanon is a shortened name of the Chiang Mai Kingdom's last prince who gave importance to the mountain's watershed forests before he died in 1897.

Typically shrouded in mist, the "fog-drip" caused by condensation on trees helps feed numerous tributaries of the country's major river system. Vachirathan Waterfalls has a single drop of 164 feet (50 metres), with a roar compared to stampeding elephants, while the even more impressive Mae Ya Waterfalls tumbles 820 feet (250 metres) down hundreds of small steps. In contrast, the cavernous Borijinda Cave is dotted with natural skylights, and serves as a peaceful meditation site for Buddhist monks.

The lower and middle elevations of Doi Inthanon have suffered through shifting agriculture - some 4,000 hill tribe villagers live on its expansive slopes.



Advertisement

How to Reach

By Air

Getting to Chiang Mai province by airplane is extremely easy as Chiang Mai city hosts a convenient modern international airport on its very doorstep.

There are currently direct international flights from Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Kunming, Vientiane, Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Dusseldorf via Abu Dhabi and Mandalay via Yangon.

As well as from Bangkok (55 min), domestic flights operate from all the neighbouring provinces and from many other major cities throughout Thailand including; Mae Hong Son (30 min), Chiang Rai (40 min), Nan (45 min), Khon Kaen (1 hr 25 min), Phitsanulok (35 min), Phuket (2 hrs), Mae Sot (50 min) and Tak (50 min).

By Train

An alternative means of getting to Chiang Mai, although involving a considerably longer journey time, is by rail.

The railway station in Chiang Mai is situated across the Ping river on the main Charoen Muang Road and intersection of Rat Uthit Road. This is on the eastern side of the city, not far from the main Post Office. The ticket office is open from 5.30 am until 9.00 pm. The left-luggage department, however, is only open from 6.00 am until 6.00 pm.

Several train services run each day between Chiang Mai and Hualampong Railway Station in Bangkok, covering a distance of some 751 km. The first stop on the main line rail route is Don Muang (Bangkok International Airport). The railway station is situated next to the airport terminal building, so trains to Chiang Mai can be conveniently boarded here also.

By Bus

There are two bus stations in Chiang Mai city. The long distance Arcade Bus Station, (sometimes referred to as No. 2) is situated in the north east of the city, at the Chiang Mai Arcade on the corner of Kaew Nawarat Road and the superhighway.

Buses depart and arrive here regularly from many of the major towns throughout Thailand, as well as daily departures to and from Bangkok’s Mor Chit 2 (Northern) Bus station. Inside the main terminal building is an information desk with all the routes, departure times and prices etc. The Thai Tourist Police also maintain an information desk within this building.

Similar to the railway service, there are different types of buses available; regular, air-conditioned and VIP air-conditioned with luxury reclining seats.

Key places to visit
Doi Inthanon National Park, Birding Highlights , Mae Ya Waterfall, Gew Mae Pan Trail


Advertisement



Places to Visit

Doi Inthanon National Park

Doi Inthanon National Park, at 482 square kilometres, protects four major watersheds and, of course, Thailand's highest mountain, Doi Inthanon, which has its summit 2565 metres (8415 feet) above sea level. This National Park, in Chiang Mai province, is unique in Thailand as it is 300 metres higher than any other mountain in the country which allows it to support a tract of upper montane forest and Thailand's only sphagnum bog (albeit a very small one).
Although there is quite extensive deforestation in places, due to a sizeable hilltribe population, there is still a large amount of quality habitat which is home to a very high number of bird species. Due to the long road to the summit there are many places to stop and access the forest which is magnificent in places; particularly the moss-clad forest at higher altitudes. There are a number of accommodation options in the park and although none of these are exceptional it is unlikely that bird watchers will want to spend much time away from the trails given the ornithological treats that await. Birds seem to be in greater densities here than in many other locations in Thailand, meaning that this is an ideal place to see a large number of species in a short space of time and one of the most memorable locations for birdwatching in Thailand.

Birding Highlights

 Doi Inthanon has so many birding highlights it is almost impossible to mention them all without giving the entire checklist for the National Park. This mountain spans a number of habitats and consequently contains the birds associated with them. The summit area, which is higher than any other in Thailand, provides some of the most memorable birdwatching on the mountain, perhaps even the whole country; Chestnut-tailed Minla, Green-tailed Sunbird, Rufous-winged Fulvetta and Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush are very abundant in this area and both Speckled and Ashy Woodpigeon are frequently seen.

A little further down the mountain Green and Purple Cochoas steal the show, with many species of Flycatchers to be seen from the park HQ to the summit. Brown-throated Treecreepers are easily found as are many colourful birds such as Maroon Oriole and Minivets.

Mae Ya Waterfall

Mae Ya Waterfall is definitely one of the better waterfalls we saw in Thailand, and it seemed to us to be the pride of the Chiang Mai province. It certainly surprised Julie and I with its enormous size, which our guide said was about 260m tall and up to 100m wide. And while Thi Lo Su gets a good deal of votes for Thailand's most beautiful waterfall, we actually thought Mae Ya was every bit as good. Our guide, who happened to be from nearby Chom Thong, thought this was better than Thi Lo Su, but there might be a little local bias.

Gew Mae Pan Trail

One of the most beautiful and rewarding walks in the park is a new trail which begins a short distance up the main summit road from Napamaytanidol. The path leads for a kilometer or more through dense, moist evergreen forest, then emerges and follows the top of a steep slope bordering the canyon headwaters of the Mae Pan River. Dotted with red rhododendron, the trail proceeds southward for another kilometer with fine, open views to the west, then re-enters the forest and eventually terminates at Napamaytanidol Chedi. Two hours would allow a leisurely walk with camera stops.

Right Time to Visit

December - March

Temperature

March - June -> 22(°C) - Summer
December - February -> 12(°C) - Spring


Advertisement



View Map