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Doi Inthanon

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One of Thailand's most famous national parks, containing as it does the Kingdom's highest mountain -- Doi Inthanon itself at 2,565 m. The park contains a mixture of dry dipterocarp on the lower slopes, mixed deciduous, (teak etc), mountain evergreen, pine and cloud forest, (near the summit), so is home to a wide variety of wildlife. Not much in the way of large mammals but particularly rich in birdlife with several species to be found only in this one spot in the country.

There are also numerous spectacular waterfalls and several Karen and Hmong villages though some of the waterfalls can get very busy at weekends. (Maps are to be found at the park information centre). The road along the foot of Inthanon has numerous easily accessible waterfalls then shortly after reaching the park headquarters, (note entrance fee here is a more reasonable 100 baht), you can turn left for Mae Chaem or bear right for the windy road to the summit.

Disappointingly but not surprisingly, at the summit you'll find a car park, chedi and cafeteria but a short distance before the summit is an interesting nature trail that will take you through the moss covered trees of the summit's cloud forest. Note 'cloud' forest since at that height Inthanon is naturally often covered in clouds and swirling mist. Your best chance of clear views is the cold, dry season from November to January but even then there's no guarantee and also remember that at that time of year at 2,500m it can get very cold. Frost and below zero temperatures are common on Inthanon during winter.

During the hot, dry season, from March to May, views are almost certain to be spoilt by haze and smoke from burning fields and bush fires whilst during the rainy season you would be very lucky to catch a cloudless day. Having said that if you did, then you'd probably be treated to the best views available since the surrounding scenery would be at its most green and lush plus all the waterfalls below would be at their most spectacular.


Most agents and guesthouses in Chiang Mai will offer day trips to the park, which considering the distance involved, might be worthwhile if Inthanon is all you want to see in the area, but otherwise there are accommodation possibilities once you are there.

There is a wide range of official park accommodation at various sites plus camping possibilities, (for park accommodation and indeed any park information check out their excellent website (http://www.dnp.go.th) or phone (053) 286 730 or (053) 286 728).

Private accommodation near the park is a bit less varied, consisting mostly, as it does, of upmarket Thai style resorts catering mostly for the domestic market though there is an excellent cheaper option as well.



Text and/or map last updated on 4th November, 2009.

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