Also known as the “Roof of Thailand”, Doi Inthanon is the highest peak of the country. The national park if full of attractions like trekking, bird watching, waterfalls, pagodas, hill tribe villages and view-points, it is next to impossible to see everything in a single day. And to be practical, as a traveler, you will be able to keep only a single day for this national park, because there are so many to see in and around Chiang Mai.
Also see: Best of Chiang Mai in 5 days
Here, I am sharing my one-day tour plan in Doi Inthanon National Park. This itinerary help me explore the best as per my taste of travel.
How to reach
The national park is motorable up to the top. I discourage you from trying to hike or bike the whole mountain. Public transport is also rare. There is no bus service. Only public transport to reach there is Songthaew, but you will have to change multiple times and will have to wait for every change. Booking a group tour is your best choice for this tour. Even better, you can hire a private tour for the full day. In 2019, this tours are offered at 4,200 THB including private car (up to 7 pax), driver, gasoline.
Highest point of Thailand
Essentially, this is the end of line common tourists will go. The road goes further to different hill tribe villages, but chance is rare that you will have time to explore those if you are in a tight single-day schedule like me. The car will drop you right in front of the entrance gate. Following it, there is a small nature trail to the highest point and after it. Touching the highest point of the country is definitely a milestone, especially when you are so close to it.
Caution: This place can be very cold, especially if cloudy which it often gets. You may thank me later as I suggested you to carry a jacket.
Ang Kha Nature trail
One of the many nature trail in this national park. The trail of the highest point will end at the car parking area. Just cross the road and you will find entrance of the Ang Kha nature trail. A perfectly peaceful forest to spend half an hour. Follow the wooden path among the lush green trees. At places, it can be slippery. It will give you an experience of lite hiking with very few number of people, and absolutely nothing else other than nature.
Also known as Phra Mahathat Naphamethanidon and Nophamethanidon (or King and Queen Pagodas). This is a popular place to watch sunset, but I did not stop until the evening. There is a beautiful garden at the back. When you search Chiang Mai, you must have seen photos of this garden with both the pagodas in the background, a small water body, a wooden bridge and fountain. Although there are lots of stairs, there is also elevator available.
Hmong hill tribe market
A small roadside hill tribe market selling dry-fruits, cloths, souvenir etc. A nice 10-minute stop. I purchased some dried strawberry and some other items.
Taste some Thai food
There are a few Thai restaurants in the national park. We went to one near the Hmong market, just beside the road. The name translates to Rimrim Kitchen. The food is not anything outstanding, but serves its purpose. The salad and soup can be extremely spicy.
The royal project
Our driver wanted us to see this and took us to the gate, but as it was getting late, and I was particularly determined to visit Mae Ya waterfalls, which closes at 16:00, I skipped this place.
The most popular waterfalls of the national park due to its location and motorable road up to the end, and also of of the most impressive one. Be prepared to get wet completely by the splashes of water.
Mae Ya waterfalls
This is out of the track and I had to go extra 15 kilometers and back (and had to pay extra for the total 30 kilometer extra drive). After parking, there is about one kilometer of hike to reach the entirely deserted waterfalls. Due to its distance from the main road, very few people visits this, and when I reached, I was the only one there. Being a waterfall-lover, this place is a paradise for me, with the biggest waterfall of the country.
Mae Ya waterfalls was the last stop of my one-day tour to Doi Inthanon National Park. I started at 8:00 in the morning and returned at 18:00. Ten hours of tour full of beautiful places, people and activities. I would suggest everyone to opt for this tour who are visiting Chiang Mai.