Doi Inthanon National Park Chiang Mai
- Doi Inthanon National Park at 2,565 meters is Thailand's tallest mountain. The National Park is 482 square kilometres and home to enormous diversity of forest plants, 66 species of mammals and 386 species of birds. Doi Inthanon is in Chomthong, Mae Cham, Mae Wang and King Amphoe Doi Lo of Chiang Mai Province.
- The geography is rugged mountains with streams, waterfalls and forests. The seconded highest peak is Doi Hua Mot Luang at 2,330 meters above sea level.
- As with Doi Suthep National Park the diversity is a function of altitude, changing vegetation types and supported eco-systems.
- For the first 1000 meters [ 3,281 feet ] the vegetation is the same as the rest of the North Thailand, namely mixed deciduous forest, bamboo and deciduous dipterocarp forest.
- Towards the summit is evergreen forest with epiphytes [ green ferns, mosses, lichens, orchids and flowering plants ]. One can also find rhododendrons.
Doi Inthanon Temples
The main tourists attractions at Doi Inthanon are;
- Doi Inthanon Peak
- Mae Klang Waterfall
- Siriphum Waterfall
- Mae Ya Waterfall
- Vachirathaan Waterfall
- Brichinda Cave
- Doi Inthanon is Thailand's premier bird watching location due to its diversity of altitudes, migration paths above and diversity of plant habitats. This is a premier spot for eco-tours and bird watching tours. Doi Inthanon is constantly shrouded in mist which collects on vegetation then to form droplets which constantly rain from the canopy [ fog drip ]. The area is a major water source for the Ping and Chaem Rivers which ultimately feed the Chao Phraya River which in turn feeds the Central Plain and Bangkok. Abundant water ensures constant supplies for the year-round water falls. The three most spectacular are, Mae Klang Waterfall, Mae Ya Waterfall [ 250 meters] and Wachiratan Waterfall [ 50 meters ]. The Park is also home to Hmong and Karen villagers and is close to the Ping Valley south of Chiang Mai City and Chom Thong and its Wat.
- Doi Inthanon is known primarily as Thailand's highest mountain and tops both Doi Pahom Pok ( 2,285metres ) and Doi Chiang Dao ( 2,175 metres ), the country's second and third highest peaks, though it is visually the least spectacular of the three at least when seen from a distance. Then again, the appeal of Thailand's mountain peaks is more sublime than sudden, more subtle than stunning. True, there is nothing to compare with perpetually snow capped Hkakabo Razi at 5,881 metres neighbouring Burma's highest peak but Doi Inthanon, like Doi Chiang Dao, is part of the same extraordinary geological phenomenon, as indeed is Mount Everest itself.
- As we now know, terra firma the fixed land surface of the earth is indeed anything but fixed. Instead, the surface of the globe is made up of rocky "tectonic plates" permanently shifting on the semi molten mantle below. About 200 million years ago the Indian subcontinent then near the south pole split off from Antarctica, and "hurtled" towards the Asian land mass at the remarkably fast rate ( in geological terms ) of about 15 cms a year. The titanic crash which followed, about 40 million years ago, caused the Asian plate to buckle and rise upwards, forming the Himalayas, a process which still continues. And at the eastern end of that cataclysmic collision, Doi Pahom Pok, Doi Chiang Dao, and Doi Inthanon form the last, unlikely outcrops of the great Himalayan chain.
- Seen in this light, perhaps, Doi Inthanon's modest 2,595 metres may seem more spectacular. Still, the appeal of this mystic peak transcends mere figures. Now encompassed in the 428 square kilometre Doi Inthanon National Park, the mountain hosts an ecosystem unique in Thailand, essentially forming an island of sub-Himalayan flora and fauna deep within the confines of tropical Southeast Asia. A popular and important destination for naturalists and bird-watchers, the mist-shrouded upper slopes support a wealth of orchids, lichens, mosses and epiphytes, as well as nearly four hundred species of birds more than any other habitat in Thailand.
- Doi Inthanon formerly known as Doi Angkha was renamed after Phra Inthawichayanon, the last King of Chiang Mai, who died at the turn of the century, and whose remains lie interred in a small white chedi near the summit. Long celebrated by the people of the north for its natural beauty and cool climate, the mountain has much to offer, including four strikingly lovely waterfalls. In addition to a rich and diverse wildlife, there are unspoiled hill tribe villages, dramatic mountain scenery, and perhaps the most architecturally unique religious complex in the country.
- Doi Inthanon is best approached from Chiang Mai via Highway 108, the road to Hot and Mae Sariang. Well before reaching Hot, however, just one kilometre before Chom Thong and 59 kilometres, or about an hour's driving out of Chiang Mai, a surfaced road leads west towards the mountain. This is the spectacular, well-surfaced Route 1008, which winds its way right to the summit. Doi Inthanon may also be approached from the south, by a narrow but well surfaced road through Mae Chaem, or by a recently surfaced road from Khun Yuam in the west.
- At the junction before Chom Thong, the land is still flat and dominated by fertile rice fields. Before long, however, the road begins its long climb towards the summit, snaking back and forth through pristine forest, and offering magnificent views over the national park and the low lying farmlands beyond. Initially, on the lower flanks of the mountain, the forest is dominated by dry, deciduous types of flora. Later, as the road climbs, this gives way first to evergreen cover ( between about 1,000 and 1,800 metres ), and finally to "cloud forest" and mossy bogs near the summit.
- Once the habitat of bears and tigers, the wildlife has been severely depleted by over-hunting and increased human settlement. Nevertheless, it is still possible to see rare mammals such as flying squirrels, red toothed shrews, Chinese pangolins and Père David's vole, as well as a plethora of birds, butterflies and moths. Rainfall on the slopes of the mountain is high, with frequent showers occurring even during the dry season. This encourages myriad varieties of ferns, mosses and orchids to flourish, often completely covering the trunks of even the tallest trees.
- An enduringly popular attraction of the national park, particularly with local Thai visitors, is the waterfalls. Mae Ya Falls, at the end of a narrow, densely forested valley about three kilometres from the beginning of Route 1008, are the largest and most spectacular in the north. Easily accessible by a well made footpath, a wide curtain of water drops more than fifty metres to the stream. The falls have many ledges and narrow cascades, and shimmer seductively in the hot sunlight. Since the falls face east, they are best visited in the early morning to experience the full beauty of this effect.
- A little further up the mountain, at the 8 kilometre mark, a trail leads to the nearby Mae Klang Falls. At this point the stream spills over a wide granite lip to form shaded pools which are ideal for swimming. There are food stalls and a small restaurant, as well as a path to the nearby Doi Inthanon Visitors Centre where detailed maps of the national park can be obtained. Here visitors can also find guides who will lead them to Brichinda Cave, an impressive limestone cavern about one hour's steady walk from the road.
- At kilometre 20 a steep path leads east from the road to Vachirathin Falls, about 700 metres distant. A small stream tumbles down a rocky escarpment, creating a halo of mists and when the sun is shining shimmering rainbows. Finally, at kilometre 30, close by the national park headquarters, a dirt road leads to twin Siriphum Falls, about 4 kilometres distant. Accessible by four-wheel drive vehicle, or after a walk of about one hour, the scenery is lovely and unspoiled. Friendly Karen villagers live close by.
- Nearer the summit, at kilometre 41, and well past the junction for Mae Chaem, are two remarkable chedi. The first, and largest, has already dominated the skyline for some time during the ascent, offering tantalising glimpses of a massive, copper coloured spire as the road winds back and forth across the face of the mountain. This is Phra Mahathat Chedi Naphamethanidon, built by the Royal Thai Air Force to commemorate the 60th birthday of King Bhumibol, and inaugurated on December 5, 1987. Close by, but clad in lilac-purple rather than copper, stands the less massive, but more elegant spire of Phra Mahathat Chedi Naphabolbhumisiri, similarly built by the Royal Thai Air Force, this time to commemorate the 60th birthday of Queen Sirikit, and inaugurated on August 12, 1992.
- These remarkable structures, which stand amidst carefully tended gardens of temperate flowers and vegetables, must rank amongst the most architecturally innovative buildings of their kind anywhere in Thailand. Particularly noteworthy are the modernistic interpretations of traditional Buddhist themes portrayed in copper-coloured tiles on the face of the King's stupa. The same is true of the elaborate interior murals of the Queen's stupa, which are reminiscent in a Buddhist sense of the controversial epitomised by Coventry Cathedral in England. In borders nearby, fuchsias, salvias, petunias, hydrangeas and helichrysums blend unexpectedly in an entirely satisfactory way with decorative cabbages, adding to the unique charm of the location.
- Nothing remains but the summit in some ways an anticlimax after visiting the two impressive chedi, as it is dominated by a strictly functional, and understandably off-limits radar station. From this vantage point, using modern technology, the Royal Thai Air Force can see far into distant Burma and Laos. The visitor, however, is almost certain to find the view circumscribed by the mists which swathe the mountain top. Still, the clear fresh air and the tranquillity make the journey to Thailand's highest peak very much worthwhile.
Doi Inthanon Forrest Walkway
National Parks In Chiang Mai Province
- Doi Inthanon National Park
- Doi Phahom Pok National Park
- Doi Suthep Pui National Park
- Doi Wiang Pha National Park
- Huai Nam Dang National Park
- Khun Khan National Park
- Mae Tho National Park
- Mae Wang National Park
- Ob Luang National Park
- Op Khan National Park
- Pha Daeng National Park
- Si Lanna National Park