Doi Inthanon National Park is perhaps the most underrated place to visit in Chiang Mai. Located on the highest mountain in Thailand, hiking up the trail to reach Doi Inthanon summit is beautiful. The King and Queen Pagodas overlooking the mountain is utterly, unexpectedly, breathtakingly beautiful!
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Doi Inthanon Tour: Day Trip from Chiang Mai
Doi Inthanon tour is a perfect day trip from Chiang Mai as the national park is only two hours away from the city by car. We had our hotel book Doi Inthanon tour for us, and we couldn’t be happier. Not to mention the convenience, I was pleasantly surprised that the rates were significantly lower than what I could found on Trip Advisor or other travel sites although now I can’t remember exactly how much we paid for.
Pro Tip: There are many other ways to get there. You can rent a car to drive yourself, or hire a private taxi or Songthaew.
Ang Ka Nature Trail
After a quick stop at the Highest Point of Thailand sign, we moved along into the Ang Ka Nature Trail. I really enjoyed hiking on this mystic trail. While people in the city were cooling off hot Thai summer with Songkran water fight, the temperature up on the mountain was pleasantly breezy and cool. The trees and rocks were covered in mosses. The trail path was misty. It reminded me of Lord of the Rings.
King Inthanon Memorial Site
Somewhere on the trail, we saw a small yet neatly maintained memorial site. It turned out to be the King Inthanon Memorial Shrine. It looked like some people came all the way into the mountain to pay their respect.
Doi Inthanon is the perfect site to chase waterfalls. Watchiran Waterfall was spectacular! I loved the sound of waterfalls here. There is a log extended to the waterfall. Our guide had no problem walking to the end to pose for a picture. It looked easy peasy but is definitely not for the faint of heart like me. I couldn’t move too far on the log as it was much scarier than I thought!
We saw Sirithan Waterfall from a deck. It was a bit far from the waterfall but made a great spot for a photo.
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Mae Ya Waterfall
This waterfall is a picturesque one with multiple water streams falling through tiers of rocks. We missed this one on the tour.
Royal Pagodas and Queen’s Garden
Royal Pagodas were definitely the highlight of the Doi Inthanon tour. The King and Queen Pagodas were facing each other, overlooking the spectacular view of the mountain and sky. Seriously, every single person there was wow-ing the whole time!
The Queen’s Garden is the home to various flowers, including poppy, hydrangea, sarubia, daisy and so many more. It was well-maintained and beautifully designed. The vibrant colors of flowers were in perfect harmony.
Pro Tip: Watch out for the bees. These bees are huge!
Thai Hill Tribes Village
Our guide took us to a Hmong hill tribe village. This small village was very interesting.
By the western standard, the living condition was very poor. But they don’t seem to mind inviting us into their space with curious eyes. They lived in a hut, where the entire family shared one living space. During my short stay, I got so many mosquito bites. I wondered how they dealt with these mountain mosquitoes that freely came in and out of the house through the gaps on the wall.
There were newborn puppies in the village, which stole my heart away. The mom dog was nice enough to let us play with them. They were so cute! But I was so sad to see them flea-ridden.
After the short tour of the village, we stepped into a souvenir shop. Women of this village were weaving textiles in their “studio.” I loved these hand-woven textiles! They offered table runners, clothes, bags, carpet, scarfs, etc. I bought two table runners and paid 250 and 350 BHT each. They are so beautiful and affordable. I still cherish them.
We heard that Thai hill tribes were educated with coffee farming through the government initiatives for their economic development. Because we wanted to support the village, we ordered coffee from a makeshift coffee stand. It didn’t taste good at all. Oh, well. Let’s just say it was our token of appreciation for them to open up their home to us foreign visitors.
Doi Inthanon Tour
Doi Inthanon tour is a full-day event. It requires time-commitment and extra effort to get there from Chiang Mai. However, the natural beauty this place offers make it worth an extra day in the area. If not already, Doi Inthanon should be on your list of things to do in Chiang Mai.
Based on my experience, I recommend finding a group tour led by a local professional guide. It really helped us make the most of our time. The tour we participated also included simple lunch. I was glad because it didn’t look like the park had many restaurant options.
Other day trip ideas from Chiang Mai? Share your ideas in the comment below.