National Parks in North Thailand

Doi Inthanon National Park

Topography and Climate

The Park is ruggedly mountainous. Doi Intanon, the highest peak stands at 2,565 meters above sea level. Lesser peaks include Doi Hua Luang (2,330 meters). The park is the source of headwaters for the Mae Klang, Mae Pako, Mae Pawn, Mae Ya, Mae Cham and Mae Khan rivers. The water from the park helps generate electricity at the Bhumipol dam site in Tak province.

Because of the park's high altitude, the climate is cool all year round. January is the coldest month with an average temperature of 5.5ºC. Even in the hot season (March to June) the temperature remains pleasant, particularly at higher elevations. Rain, fog and mist can obscure the view for days.

Historically, the mountain of Doi Inthanon was referred to as Doi Ang Kha. Prince Intharawichayanon, the last ruler of Chiang Mai,  realised the importance of the country's forests especially those in the north where they serve as the sources of headwaters for much of the country. He helped support people to study the areas. He requested that his remains be placed on the summit of Doi Ang Kha. After his death, the mountain was renamed Inthanon, a shorten version of his name. Today, visitors to the summit can see the remains of the prince there.

Forests

The forest of the park is one of the country's most important heritages. Forest types include moist evergreen forest, pine forest and mixed deciduous species with economic value including teak, mountain pine, etc. In addition there are many beautiful flowers including vanda, phycastylis and rhododendron. Mosses such as sphagnum and osmanda are found at higher elevations. There are Royal Projects, assisting the villagers grow cold-climate fruit such as strawberries, grapes and apples as well as flowers in the park. The number of wild animals in the park is decreasing due to hunting, farming and tourism activities, etc. The remaining animals include serow, gibbons, very few tigers, deer, wild pigs, Siamese hare, jungle fowl and goral.

Because of its wide altitude range and the cool climate in its upper reaches, the park supports the largest number of bird species in Thailand. The Centre for Wildlife Research at Mahidol University recorded a total of 362 species. In addition, there are many migrants from northern Asia seen at summit areas. Species restricted to Doi Inthanon are Ashy-throated Warbler and an endemic race of the green-tailed Sunbird.

Tourist Attractions

Mae Klang Waterfall located in the east of the park, is a popular picnic site. The rapids and waterfall spill over a wide exposure of granite and can be approached closely.

Vachiratharn Waterfall or Yong waterfall is located at km 72 of Chomthong - Doi Inthanon road. Vachiratharn waters tunnel down a granite escarpment, creating a misty view of great beauty.

Mae Ya Waterfall is thought to be the highest in Thailand and is well worth the extra effort to get there.

Siriphum Waterfall was formerly known as Lao Lee waterfall named after the head of a tribe village nearby. It is located at km 31 on Chom Thong - Doi Inthanon road.

Brichinda Cave has a gigantic entrance chamber and tower, and a second huge chamber with a skylight opening to the surface. It can be reached in about one hour from the main road.

The Park Headquarters building has a small camping space nearby, and staff will provide assistance, information and a guide for trail walking. Access of the Hmong village, Ban Khun Klang, the guesthouse compound, and Siriphum waterfall is via a wide laterite road intersecting with the main summit road. 

The drive to the Summit of Doi Inthanon offers some fine views, especially during November and December, before the dry season haze. On your visit to the summit containing the remains of King Intharawichayanon, be sure to read the English translation on the back of the marble plaque nearby. Photographing any part of the radar station is forbidden, but visitors may take pictures freely of any other subject.

Mae Pan Waterfall on the Mae Chaem road is the turn-off to Mae Pan waterfall. The laterite access road descends about 2 km to the ranger station and campground, and is suitable for any vehicle although the road can be slippery on the uphill after a heavy rain. The area is quiet, of the beaten track, and can be described as the backcountry of Doi Inthanon park.

How to Get There

From Chiang Mai, take highway 108 towards Chom thong. At km 57 (1 km before Amphur Chomthong) take a right turn to highway 1009 (the Chomthong - Doi Inthanon Road). At 31 km along this road are the park's headquarters.

Facilities

The park has visitor centre, four houses and a camping ground

 

 

Doi Suthep - Doi Pui National Park

In 1981 Doi Suthep National Park in Chiang Mai was registered as the country's 24th national park. In the following year additional areas were annexed to the park, bringing the total area to 261 square kilometres.

The topography of Doi Suthep are high mountains composed of many ridge systems. The prominent peaks are Doi Suthep, Doi Pui and Doi Buagha. Doi pui is the highest at 1,658 maters above sea level. The park serves as the source of headwaters for the Ping River tributaries.

The high topography of the park means that the climate is cool all year round. The average temperature is 16ºC. Moist and cool air is indicative of the rainy season which peaks in August and September. In February, the air is crisp and clear and the landscape is sharply visible from the parks viewpoints.

Hill evergreen, dry dipterocarp, mixed deciduous, and pine forest are all represented in Doi Suthep.

Deer, monkeys, macaques and over 200 kinds of bird species are found, including cagles, jungle fowl, orioles, woodpeckers, and drongos.

Tourist attractions

Phu Ping Ratchanivej Palace This beautiful palace serves as a vacation home for the King and  Queen and the royal family. The palace was built in 1960 in Thai architecture. Within the ground, the original landscaping has been preserved as much as possible while planting various species of flowers. The palace is located 4 km from the park headquarters and is open the public on Fridays and public holidays.

Phrathat Doi Suthep Temple This temple, built in 1384, is important both for its sacredness and for its historical role in Chiang Mai. The stairway, with more than 300 steps, is bordered by two long Nagas or snakes. In the temple are stored some of the ashes of The Lord Buddha. The full name of the temple is "Wat Prabraromatad Doi Suthep Worawihan". This sacred temple, decorated in The Lanna Style, is frequented by worshippers.

Phra Kru Ba Siwichai Memorial In 1934, Phra Kru Ba Siwichai, a famous monk instructor staying at Sisoda Temple, led a drive to build a 12 km road from the base of mountain to Phrathat Doi  Suthep temple. The road was completed in six months. Later the citizens of Chiang Mai built a memorial to Phra Kru Ba Siwichai, so that people could continue to pay him respect.

Huay Kaeo Waterfall Located near the top of Doi Suthep, this waterfall is fed by the Huay Kaeo stream.

Mon Thon Than Waterfall Located 3 km from Huay Kaeo waterfall, this impressive waterfall tumbles down in 3 stages over a high cliff face. It is also called Sanpayang waterfall.

Mae Sa Waterfall The combination of 8 falls separated by distances of 100 to 500 meters. From Chiang Mai, travel north on the Chiang Mai - Mae Rim road (route 107) and Mae Rim - Samoeng road (route 1096). You will find turn off road to the left (south) to Mae Sa waterfall. Other waterfalls are found along the same stream, including Palad and Paw Paw Paw. Further away are Sisangwan, Mahidol, Tadmawg-Wanghang and Tadmawgfa waterfalls.

In addition to these spots, there are many other interesting places, which include Pangub cliff, Palad cliff, Padam cliff, the peak of Doi Pui and Hill Tribe villages.

Accommodation and Facilities

The park has six houses for visitors, and six rowhouses.

How to Get There

Go by public transportation 16 km along the Hueygaow road until you reach Phrathat Doi Suthep temple. Just a little way past the temple on the right hand side of the road there is a sign which indicates the way to the park office.