A DIY Tour of Doi Inthanon: Hiking and More!

A DIY Tour of Doi Inthanon: Hiking and More!

Don’t just take a peek at Thailand’s highest peak! Here are some other things you can do to fully enjoy Thailand’s natural beauty.

If you think Thailand is just about its gorgeous beaches and affordable shopping, think again! Thailand is also endowed with natural gems that are sometimes overlooked; if you want to experience the creme de la creme of Thailand’s natural beauty, here’s our detailed guide to touring Doi Inthanon!

About Doi Inthanon

Doi Inthanon

Image credit: Bharath Mohan

At a staggering height of 2565 metres, Doi Inthanon is the highest peak in Thailand and is located within the Doi Inthanon National Park. Aptly, Doi Inthanon was formerly known as Doi Ang Ka or Doi Luang by the hill tribe people, which simply means “big mountain”. King Inthawichayanon, one of the last kings of Chiang Mai, was known for his love of nature and was concerned about the preservation of the forests in northern Thailand. In honour of the king, the national park was named after him. Besides being home to Thailand’s highest peak, the 482 square kilometres national park boasts other stunning places of interests such as waterfalls, picturesque villages and grand stupas.

How to get to Doi Inthanon

Chiang Mai is the nearest major city from Doi Inthanon. You can choose one of three options to get to Doi Inthanon from Chiang Mai; public transport, tour groups or self-drive.

Public transport

The only public transport available to get to Doi Inthanon from Chiang Mai is a songtaew (a larger version of the iconic tuk-tuk). First, board a yellow songtaew in front of Pratu Gate near Chiang Mai Gate Market. This songtaew’s last stop is at Chom Thong, the southeast side of the national park. Then, change to another songtaew to get to Doi Inthanon National Park Headquarters.

Songtaew to Doi Inthanon

Image credit: Hanumann (left), Kathy (right)

Although riding a songtaew seems fun, only a few places of interest in the national park will be accessible as songtaews won’t take you to the summit and other attractions located in the northern and western areas of the park. Since songtaews are slower than cars, the journey could take three hours. Moreover, the journey might take an even longer time as drivers often won’t leave until the songtaew is full.

Tour groups

The easiest and fool-proof option is to join a tour group. Tour groups can easily be found on trusted third-party travel websites or offered by accommodations in Chiang Mai. If you want more freedom on which attractions to visit in Doi Inthanon National Park, you can opt to hire a car and driver from Chiang Mai. Do keep in mind that you’ll need to tell your driver which attractions you want to stop by in advanced as prices may fluctuate according to distance. The price for a day trip by a tour group or private hire range from US$75 to US$100.


Road to Doi Inthanon

Image credit: Grant Mallory

If you’re confident to drive on Thailand’s roads, you can rent a car or scooter. This, no doubt, allows you the most freedom to plan your itinerary. GPS systems or Google Maps will be your best friend during the trip. But be warned, being located in a mountainous region, the road to Doi Inthanon is filled with twists and sharp turns. Do keep to the left, especially when driving around blind turns. If you’re going via scooter, do ensure that you’re properly dressed for the cold winds, and that includes gloves.

Things to do or see at Doi Inthanon

Doi Inthanon National Park offers an endless number of things to do and see. You might even need to spend a few weeks here if you want to see it all! If you don’t have the luxury of time, here are the main highlights of the national park you simply cannot miss when you’re there:

1. Doi Inthanon Summit

Doi Inthanon

Image credit: Ash Edmonds

Now that you’ve reached Doi Inthanon National Park, it’s a given that you have to go to Doi Inthanon Summit! It is located at the end of Route 1009. You can embark on your journey from the Doi Inthanon National Park Headquarters, where the visitor centre is. If you’re imagining a tiring climb to the top, don’t fret – the summit is only accessible by car. Sorry, hiking enthusiasts!

Doi Inthanon Sun rise


Other than the magnificent views of the Himalayan mountain ranges, you can also catch the best views of the sunrise at the Doi Inthanon Summit viewpoint. It is a spectacular place to catch the sunrise since it faces east.

2. The Chedis

Doi Inthanon chedis

Image credit: 41330

Another attraction in Doi Inthanon National Park that you cannot miss is the Chedis. They are located about five kilometres from the Doi Inthanon Summit. The two Chedis are dedicated to the king and queen of Thailand.

The Chedi dedicated to the king is known as Phra Maha Dhatu Naphamethinidon in Thai, which translates to “by the strength of the land and air”. It was built in 1987 in commemoration of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 60th birthday. About a hundred metres away is Naphaphonphumisiri Pagoda, the Chedi dedicated to Queen Sirikit. Naphaphonphumisiri means “being the strength of the air and the grace of the land” in Thai. The queen’s Chedi was built in 1992 to honour her 60th birthday anniversary.

Doi Inthanon Sunset

Image credit: Bharath Mohan

The beautiful and majestic monuments further enhance the beauty of Doi Inthanon. For accessibility purposes, escalators were installed so that anybody can get to the top of the Chedis for the best views. Do note that a small fee is required. Since it faces the west, the viewpoint near the Chedis offers sensational views of the sunset.

3. Waterfalls

Doi Inthanon waterfall

Image credit: Yuval Haimovits

Doi Inthanon National Park is dotted with spectacular waterfalls all over. If you love waterfalls and want to see many of them, you’ll be happy to know that most of the waterfalls are easily accessible. They are only a few hundred metres off from the main roads of the park. No matter when you visit, the falls’ water flow is great all year round.

One of the most popular waterfalls is the Mae Klang Waterfall as visitors are able to go swimming and picnicking near the falls. Located near the park gate, it is also the easiest to get to. The 250-metre tall Mae Ya Waterfall is another favourite and is considered the most stunning waterfall in the national park.

Doi Inthanon waterfall

Image credit: Chris Davis

If you’re looking for the quieter waterfalls, consider going to Wachiratan Waterfall, located halfway up Doi Inthanon peak. The 40-metre tall waterfall offers excellent swimming spots at the bottom of the falls. However, the water temperature is ice cold! Take a dip only if you’re in need of a big-time perk me up.

Other waterfalls include the Pha Khun Na Waterfall, the Wang Khwai Waterfall, the Sirithan Waterfall and Siriphum Waterfall, to name a few.

4. Hiking Trails

Doi Inthanon Hiking

Image credit: jay joslin

For those hiking enthusiasts who are disappointed that hiking up the Doi Inthanon is not allowed, you’ll be happy to know that Doi Inthanon National Parks offers four charming nature hiking trails for you to explore. These hiking trails allow you to get up close and personal to the flora and fauna of Doi Inthanon National Parks. Also, do look out for a multitude of animal species, from birds to wild boars, when you’re on your hike.

One highly recommended trail is the Ang Ka Luang Nature Trail. Ideal for beginners, this short boardwalk trail takes you through to the verdant forest of the park. Another popular trail is the Kaew Mae Pan Nature Trail. The trail starts just a stone’s throw away from the Chedis. Do note that you have to be accompanied by a Hmong Tribe guide on the 2.5-kilometre hike.

5. Royal Project

Doi Inthanon royal project

Image credit: Boudewijn Huysmans

Since hundreds of years ago, different hill tribes have called the Doi Inthanon area their home. In the past, the tribes grew opium poppies! Since its establishment in 1979, the Royal Project has helped the tribes grow other crops instead, such as flowers and vegetables. You can find the locals tending to their crops at the Royal Project, a one-kilometre square flower garden, located near the Doi Inthanon National Park Headquarters. There are also several greenhouses at Royal Project where you can enjoy the sights of hydroponics vegetables and different species of flowers in bloom.

Where to stay at Doi Inthanon

Doi Inthanon accommodation

Image credit: Pongdanai

Although most people visit Doi Inthanon National Park on day tours, the park is best enjoyed across a few days. With numerous beautiful natural attractions to explore, you would certainly want to take your time to savour the beauty of the park. Here are some accommodation options in Doi Inthanon National Park:


Not to worry, you won’t be camping in the wilderness! The camping grounds are about 500 metres from the Doi Inthanon National Park Headquarters. Don’t fret, you won’t have to lug your camping gear from home. You can rent tents, sleeping bags and other camping gear from the park headquarters. A three-person tent costs about 225 THB (~US$7) per day, and sleeping bags costs about 60 THB (~US$2).


Like the camping grounds, bungalows are also about 500 metres from the Doi Inthanon National Park Headquarters. There are different sizes of bungalows you can choose from that fit your budget. The price of the bungalow ranges from 1,000 THB (~US$31.50) to 6,500 THB (~US$205).

Subject to availability, you can book bungalows on arrival. Bungalows can also be booked through the DNP website in advance. However, for tourists, it is difficult to reserve a bungalow beforehand as payment has to be made using a Thai bank account. If you still want to reserve a bungalow in advance, you can settle the payment at a convenience store or bank when you land in Thailand.

Tips when visiting Doi Inthanon

Doi Inthanon

Image credit: 41330

  • The entrance fee to Doi Inthanon National Park’s entrance fee is 300 THB (~USD9.50) for adults and 150 THB (~USD4.75) for children. The Chedis has a separate entrance fee of 40 THB (~USD1.30) per person.
  • Don’t forget to bring appropriate clothing so you can layer up when it becomes chilly. With its high altitude, the temperatures at Doi Inthanon National Park is a comfortable 15 to 30 degrees Celsius. However, at night or during the cool season, from October to February, temperatures can drop to 6 degrees Celsius!
  • Packing some food for your trip is definitely advisable. Food establishments are pretty scarce in the national park; there’s only a cafe near the Doi Inthanon Summit, a restaurant near the visitor centre and some snack facilities at selected waterfalls.
  • The best time to visit Doi Inthanon is on a weekday morning. The national park gets crowded on the weekends and during the high season from December to March. Visiting the park during Thailand’s holiday periods is also not advisable.

The next time you’re planning to head to Chiang Mai, slot in a day or two to visit Doi Inthanon National Park. The highest peak in Thailand will unquestionably meet your high expectations!

About Author

Sara Amira
Sara Amira

Sara’s passions in life are travelling, writing and eating. When she’s not in a window seat of a plane, she’s either cafe-hunting or exploring new neighbourhoods


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