Doi Inthanon National Park “The Roof of Thailand”
Doi Inthanon is the highest summit in the country and during the winter season the temperature on the top of the mountain can drop to 0 degrees Celcius. This mountain, which is the end point for the Himalayan mountain range, traverses Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Thailand; it reaches 2,565 meters above the sea level. Within an hour drive of Chiang Mai town are numerous places that can provide that picture perfect postcard spot. Despite the cold from November to December, trees and plants of all sorts grow here to form a mountain-side forest. Due to the difference of temperatures in high and low altitudes, the mountain supports more than one type of forest : the lower part of the mountain has plants that grow with humidity and the cold. Rare plants grow in these forests including Sphangum Moss and the Delavey Rhododendron.
Near the peak of Doi Inthanon is a peat swamp forest, which is like a natural reservoir that stores seeping underground water, known to locals as Ang Ka Luang. The area boasts a nature trail regarded as one of the best in the country. A wooden track built into the forest enables visitors to observe nature and enjoy the variety of plants originating from the Himalayan region, for example, Delavay’s Rhododendron (Rhododendron arboretum subsp. delavayi), White Rhododendron (R. lyi), Inthanon Lady’s Slipper (Pephiopedilum villosum) and the parasitic plant Krathon Phra Ruesi (Sapria himalayana). The area is also a refuge for animals native to the Himalayan region, including the Common goral (Naemorhedus caudatus). and endemic species of field rat: the Common European White-toothed Shrew (Crocidura russula), the Pere David’s Vole (Eothenomys miletus), the Red-toothed Shrew (Soriculus salenskii), and the Crocodile salamander.
Many activities are available at Doi Inthanon, here is a list of the top activities to do, from the top of the mountain to the bottom. First is the peak of Doi Inthanon, once up here, you’ll be at the highest (and probably coldest) point in Thailand. From this point, if you are interested in mountain hiking, villagers can take you on a long trek in the surrounding forest where you will meet with Karen and Hmong villages (this trek can take half day or full day). Nearby the peak of Doi Inthanon is a radar station belonging to the Thai Air Force as well as memorial of the last ruler of Chiang Mai. You can visit these two spots by yourself and also take a little walk in the nature walk path available at Kew Mae Pan. The walk is about 360 meters which shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes. Along the way, you’ll see some of the mountain’s flora up close. After you walk, make your way to Summit of Doi Inyhanon (Phra Mahathat Chedi., Km.41.5) where you will find the Great Holy Relics . Pagoda of Nobhamethanidol and Nabhapolbhumisiri constructed by the Thai Air Force and Thai people on the auspicious occasion of HM the king’s 5th cycle birthday in 1992, Buddha’s relics are kept inside the two pagodas. From the exterior, you will see both pagodas with beautiful tiled murals, visitors can also take a magnificent panoramic view photographs of surrounding area of Doi Inthanon.
Pagoda of Nobhamethanidol and Nabhapolbhumisiri (View from Kiew Mae Pan)
The mountain of Doi Inthanon is mainly comprised of granite batholiths while limestone can be found in the lower region. It is one of the 14 national parks of Thailand and is one of the most beautiful and natural places of country. A visit there can be a one day trip or it can be extended to a few days with nights over. The area offers many overnight options such as camping or sleeping in beautiful mountain style bungalows at the Royal Agricultural Station. When on a visit to Doi Inthanon, make sure you stop over at the Royal Agriculture Station Inthanon, to see the beautiful garden where various plants and vegetables are grown. The station allows researchers and farmers to learn more about plant-life at high altitude.
One of the places to admire such flowers bloom is at the Khun Wang Royal Agricultural Research Center. Where you can see wild Himalayan cherry trees, known in Thai as phya suea khrong, shed leaves during the cool season, leaving only brown branches that make them appear as if they are dying trees. The flowers are always in full bloom during the second week of January and will last for about two weeks.
Chiang Mai remains a long way from the sea, but if it is cool waters you seek fear not, the province is blessed with the beautiful lush green landscapes and Doi Inthanon houses some of the region’s most beautiful waterfalls. Some of these waterfalls have calm pools where one can fully immerse oneself, while others are simply beautiful, shady spots to dip your toes. Most can get thunderous in the wet season and caution should be exercised on slippery rocks or when considering swimming. The areas around the falls are often perfect for hikes and picnics, with swimming largely permitted. You might not always get them all to yourself, but the sight of relaxed, smilling locals enjoying the tranquil settings is an experience in itself.
Kiew Mae Pan Nature Trail
Doi Inthanon mountains is cool all year-round and spawns the Mae Klang, Mae Pako, Mae Pawn, Mae Ya, Mae Chamand Mae Khan rivers. Mae Klang Waterfall is the first waterfall you’ll discover in Doi Inthanon National Park and it is arguably one of the most beautiful. The waterfall has several tigers with the main waterfall cascading around 25 meters down at 45-degree slope into a swimmable pool There is a viewing area at the waterfall , which is great for a scenic photo and a shot and easy nature walk to get there. The waterfall is an ideal place for a picnic or just a serene stop over on your day trip to the area.
The biggest waterfall in the park, Mae Ya Waterfall is also one Chiang Mai’s most impressive. More than 230 meters high, it cascades down a steep and wide triangular shelf into a pool. Located only 500 meters from the parking area, there is a tented area with food on offer and it is a good setting for a picnic. Sirithan Waterfall is a medium sized waterfall within the park of around 40 meters, which drops down two large steps. From the main road there is the shot jungle walk to access it and there is also the scenic viewing deck. Remember to take some warm clothes when visiting to Doi Inthanon as it can be surprisingly chilly at times, especially at this period of the year.
Wachirathan Waterfall and Mae Ya Waterfall
Another two jewels of Doi Inthanon are the Siriphum Waterfall and the Wachirathan Waterfall. Siriphum is an impressively tall waterfall accompanied by another thinner one. This waterfall towers high above the trees which, in December, are decorated with purple blooms. Views are beautiful from the road when approaching the falls and the Siriphum Waterfall is located close to the Royal Agricultural Station, which are gardens worth a visit. The Wachirathan Waterfall has the most power and spray of the falls in Doi Inthanon; it is probably one of the most popular, probably due to its ease of access.
A little-know gem not far from Doi Inthanon at Km. 6.6 on the Mae Chaem road is Mae Pan Waterfall. It is the marked by a clear sign and has a dirt access road that descends about two kilometers to the Ranger Station where you will find a campground. This area is quiet and well off the beaten track. From the ranger station there is an excellent loop hike of 1.5 to 2 hours through virgin terrain with small waterfalls and bubbling streams along most of the route. Visitors can walk the 800 meters to Mae Pan Falls and back again, as well as 200 meters to Huai Sai Luang Waterfall just beyond the campground. Both of these trails are clear and well looked after.
There are many more sights and activities for visitors to see and do while in Doi Inthanon such as bird watching for birdwatchers, is a sanctuary for more than 370 bird species. Some examples are the Greentailed Sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis subsp. angkanensis) of the Doi Ang Ka region, the Chestnut-tailed Minla, and the Blue-winged Minla. The hilltribe village visits; you can be sure to bring back beautiful memories from your trip to the top of Thailand.
Note : Not accessible for wheelchair user
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