Doi Inthanon National Park in Thailand: A Perfect Chiang Mai Day Trip Destination – Yoga, Wine & Travel

Doi Inthanon National Park in Thailand: A Perfect Chiang Mai Day Trip Destination

Yogawinetravel.com: Doi Inthanon National Park in Thailand, A Perfect Chiang Mai Day Trip Destination

Yogawinetravel.com: Doi Inthanon National Park in Thailand, A Perfect Chiang Mai Day Trip Destination

Perhaps one of the most underrated things to do in and around Chiang Mai, Doi Inthanon National Park is just an hours’ drive away from the heart of Old Town. It is home to the highest mountain in Thailand, nature trails, stunning gardens and incredible waterfalls. If you are visiting Chiang Mai and want to venture off the beaten path, get yourself to Doi Inthanon National Park!

Looking for more ideas of things to do and see in Chiang Mai? Click here for 10 things to do in Chiang Mai that don’t involve riding elephants or petting tigers!

How to get to Doi Inthanon National Park

The best way to get to Doi Inthanon is to hire a driver. The drive is just over an hour from downtown Chiang Mai, and this way you can maximize your time in the park and get from point-to-point easily. It is possible to get there by scooter, but the road is winding and steep in some sections: unless you are a skilled scooter or motorcycle driver, I would advise against it. Once you are within the park, it is easy to drive between the sights. I would not recommend walking from point to point!

I paid 3000 Baht (approximately 90 USD) for a private car for the day, but you can also opt to take a Songthaew (share taxi) – the cost difference is not much so I would opt for the private air conditioned car. There is plenty of parking so it is also possible to self-drive if you have access to a rental car.

Alternatively, you could also join a group tour, just visit one of the many tour agencies around town. The only issue is that most group tour itineraries skip quite a few of these landmarks.

Important tips to know before visiting Doi Inthanon National Park

  • Start early – the park is large so you’re not going to have to fight your way through any crowds, but you’ll want to make the most of the day. You should aim to leave Chiang Mai by 9 am in the morning. The park opens at 6 am if you are extra ambitious, and closes relatively early at 4:30 pm.
  • The entrance fee for the park is 300 Baht for foreigners and 50 Baht for Thai nationals (prices current as of March 2017).
  • Because of the high altitude, the climate is significantly cooler in the park (20 degrees Celsius or so in March). Bring a light jacket if you are visiting early in the morning, and wear comfortable walking shoes for the nature trails. The most popular time to visit Chiang Mai is during the “cool” season from December to early March, when the temperature in Chiang Mai is “only” 25-30 degrees Celsius during the day and slightly cooler at night. April, May and June tend to be warmer months and the rainy season begins around May all the way through to October/November.
  • There are plenty of bathrooms in the park – I have a tiny bladder and had no issues!
  • There aren’t a ton of places to eat in the park, so I would recommend that you have a solid breakfast and bring a snack and water for the day.
  • You cannot swim in almost all of the waterfalls, but bring your swimsuit along just in case.
  • Most of the trails are well shaded, so you probably won’t get sun burnt. If you do burn easily, you might need some coverage when you walk the Mae Pan Nature Trail.

What to do and see in Doi Inthanon National Park

1. The Highest Point in Thailand

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Begin by driving all the way up to “The Roof of Thailand” located approximately 2.5 KM above sea level. Snap a picture at the massive sign marking the highest point, then swiftly move on. The trail around this spot is well paved and takes you through shaded (and very chilly) parts of the forest. Don’t be surprised if you bump into Buddhist monks along the path – the whole thing should only take you approximately 15 minutes. Ask your driver to meet you at the end of the trail.

2. Angkha Nature Trail

The entrance to this trail is conveniently located at the end of the previous trail and will only take you 15 minutes or so to walk from start-to-finish (360 metres). The mossy wooden pathway is extremely quiet and serene (or creepy, depends how you look at it!).

3. Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail and Waterfall

For me, Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail was the highlight of my trip to Doi Inthanon National Park; in fact, hiking this trail was a complete accident! I’m not a massive fan of hiking (so shoot me), and I hadn’t done much research ahead of time; there was a massive language barrier so unfortunately when I asked the park staff how long the hike would take, no one could answer my question. So off I went (what’s the worst that could happen?), with no idea how long the trail was and what I had just signed up for.

Luckily, Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail is only approximately 3 KM long and is a relatively easy hike with plenty of areas where you can sit down and catch your breath. It is only accessible with a guide and the fee is 200 Baht. The trail offers 21 stations with detailed explanations about the plants and ecosystem as well as several stunning view points. The best part? I hardly saw any other tourists while hiking along this trail!

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Although my guide didn’t speak any English, she was patient and even snapped a few photos for me – although tips are not compulsory, it most certainly was appreciated. The entire hike takes approximately 2 hours or 1.5 if you are a fast walker.

It’s important to note that Mae Pan Nature Trail is closed for reforestation from June 1 to October 30 each year.

4. Royal Pagodas and the Gardens

The royal pagodas are located just a few minutes’ drive from the Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail: Phra Mahathat Napha Methanidon and Phra Mahathat Naphaphon Bhumisiri (try saying that 3 times fast) were built to commemorate the birthdays of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his Queen. The pagodas are surrounded by a beautiful garden with stunning foxgloves and plenty of butterflies (and bees).

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There is an additional entrance fee of 40 Baht to enter this section of the park.

5. Watchiran Waterfall

Watchiran is a gorgeous dual stream waterfall that is incredibly easy to reach – it is just steps away from the parking lot. It’s popular with tour groups so don’t be surprised if you see a fair few people here. There IS a log that you can walk out on for an unobstructed photo opportunity, just watch your step! Unfortunately, no swimming is allowed here.

6. Sirithan Waterfall

Slightly less popular but still beautiful, Sirithan Waterfall is a short walk down from the main road. The viewing platform is fairly far away from the waterfall itself, so consider bringing a zoom lens.

7. Mae Ya Waterfall

Photo credit: Peerawat Aupala / Shutterstock

Mae Ya is probably the most popular waterfall for visitors to Doi Inthanon National Park. Unfortunately I ran out of time and wasn’t able to make it here before the park shut, but the photos of this waterfall are gorgeous! It looks like you can get up close to this waterfall so you can snap some long exposure shots to get that milky look.

Where to stay in Chiang Mai

For a relatively small city there are plenty of things to see and do in Chiang Mai. If you are planning your trip, I would recommend staying for 3-5 nights to make the most of your time in Chiang Mai. Click here for a list of other things to do in Chiang Mai including chasing waterfalls, checking out the night markets, visiting a ginger farm and getting a massage!

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Wondering where to stay in Chiang Mai? If you only have a few days, then the best place to stay in Chiang Mai is within Old Town. If you are a longtime reader of Yoga, Wine & Travel then you’ll know that I am a sucker for beautiful, boutique hotels. See You Soon Hotel and Cafe in the heart of Old Town is an amazing hotel with a handful of spacious and newly renovated rooms and stunning & tasteful decor. The rooms sit atop a wonderful cafe (try the mango and sticky rice) with tasty food and drinks, and the wifi connection is very stable and fast throughout the property. It is also located right next to the Sunday market so you can roll back to your room after stuffing your face full of street food. Click here to book your stay at See You Soon Chiang Mai!

Looking for more travel tips and recommendations? Check out all of my Asia travel guides here!

This article contains an affiliate link. If you choose to book using this link, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my website by using these links, I only recommend products or services that I have personally used & hotels I enjoyed visiting. 

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55 Comments

  1. Wendy says:

    Good info for Thailand trip! Great photos! Thanks!

  2. Anu says:

    In all my Thailand trips, I have missed going to Chiang Mai. Every time I read about Chiang Mai, I feel the urge to go there.

  3. Paul says:

    How beautiful! And with the elevation I imagine it’s also a great way to beat the heat. Thanks for the very detailed article.

  4. Gokul Raj says:

    I missed out on this place during my last visit. I would love to go on such trails that give such scenic views as this one.

  5. Arpy says:

    I haven’t been in Thailand. But if Ido, I will definitely visit Chiang Mai. It looks there are plenty of hiking areas with calm and relaxing nature around. Just to sit there and listen to the waterfalls 🙂
    Thanks for your recommendations!

  6. ada says:

    wow Doi Inthanon National Park looks amazing! that watchiran waterfall looks like heaven! So beautiful ! I wish I explored more while I was in Thailand! Hopefully I can go back one day and visit that wonderful place!

  7. Daniel says:

    Doi Inthanon is an amazing park. What I enjoyed most when I visited, apart from the amazing waterfalls, where the villages. It’s a great place truly. Thanks for bringing back such memories. Awesome post!

  8. Mel Butler says:

    I have not heard of Doi Inthanon National Park before but it looks so pretty. I am a huge fan of waterfalls also and I especially like the Mae Ya Waterfall, how beautiful is it. The is a cool fact to about it being the highest mountain in Thailand. I am definitely adding this to my list of things to do next time I am in Thailand. Just beautiful pictures

  9. Bonita says:

    Quick question, does the nature trail take you to the summit? So if you like hiking and mountain climbing you can’t do it here? Coz if it is just 3km? So the altitude is 2500m above sea level? I have always thought Thailand was so hilly.

  10. Wow, this looks beautiful, this a trek I want to try. I hadn’t heard of Doi Inthanon National Park before, stunning!

  11. Mihaela says:

    I loved this place. Unfortunately we were driving there as part of a bigger day itinerary. So now when I see this I wish I would have hiked as well. Such great views on the way indeed

  12. How beautiful! I have not traveled to Thailand yet but this place would be a good reason to do so soon. Interesting that they charges differently too for thai and foreign nationals, they do that in India too. Must be an Asian thing.

  13. Gorgeous photos and sounds like a really rewarding walk to do. I have never heard of this walk before so it’s nice to learn something new about Thailand 🙂

  14. The trails seem very nice and serene. The pagodas are beautiful especially with the gardens around them. I love seeing waterfalls and this park has no shortage of them for sure. Visiting a ginger farm would definitely be interesting. We usually try to work in a hike when we go on trips and I think Thailand would be no different.

  15. Ketki says:

    All the waterfalls look gorgeous. I’m sure the water made the sun less harsh! Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail looks awesome. I’ll definitely keep this in mind if I’m traveling to Thailand.

  16. Katherine says:

    Great advice and tips in this post! I would have definitely gone straight to the group tour option, had I not read this post. I’ve done a lot of solo travel so I’ve never forked out for a driver by myself. It sounds like a great way to see all the beautiful landmarks in the park though! The Royal Pagodas and Gardens are so beautiful, they’d be top of my list!

  17. Megan says:

    I tried to take a group tour here when I was in Chiang Mai in 2014 and I ended up riding elephants instead. I was so upset about it, because I’m very against animal tourism. We didn’t even go trekking! Sounds like you had a blast though, much better than the group tour.

  18. I’ve been to Thailand but visited the usual beaches. I wish I’d known about this place earlier. The waterfalls look absolutely stunning. Gonna pin this for later.

  19. Amrita Sen says:

    I have always loved natural trails and Doi Inthanon National Park looks a must visit place in Thailand for me. Will keep this place in my bucket list for Thailand!

  20. Eulanda says:

    We haven’t visited Thailand yet, and as we bookmark things to do when we visit, we’ve been looking for posts like this. We enjoy hiking so Doi Inthanon sounds like a great option. Thanks!

  21. Sarah says:

    Oh wow, this national park looks incredible. I haven’t been that fussed with Thailand before, but these pictures and information are tempting me to visit when I head to Australia!

    • Flo says:

      Thailand is one of my favourite countries to visit – the food is incredible, the culture is rich and most of the people I’ve met have been incredibly friendly!

  22. Chiera says:

    This place looks absolutely stunning! That view from Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail is breathtaking! Love an accidental hike! haa

  23. Looks Wonderful. I am planning to go to Thailand in January. I am bookmarking this article. Looks like a great day trip.

  24. I haven’t been to Thailand yet. There are so many things to do there that I think I will need at least 3 months to see all the beautiful places there 🙂

  25. The pictures are beautiful! have never heard of that park before but I think, this is kind of my place (I am also not a hiker but enjoy smaller hikes once in a while, so this is definitely a place I would like to hike).

    • Flo says:

      That’s exactly how I feel about hiking, Arzo! Short, easy hikes are manageable once in a while, but I can’t imagine walking for hours on end haha

  26. I love this blog so much. It’s named after all my favourite thing! 🙂 You had me at the waterfalls, a really great post idea for a day trip.

  27. Never knew that Thailand had mountains. Another thing that attracted my attention in this post was the presence of toilets. This is good to keep the environment clean and others fresh and tidy.

  28. kathy says:

    I love Chiang Mai however unfortunately I did not go to Do Inthanon National Park. Your photos look stunning. I would love to go there. I would be keen to visit the Watchiran Waterfall or course go to the highest point in Thailand.

  29. Kana says:

    I can always count on you for some solid travel tips! I have this thing for waterfalls so the waterfall would definitely be a spot I would visit!

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