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Doi Inthanon National Park

Doi Inthanon National Park
Doi Inthanon
Doi Inthanon was declared a National Park in 1972 and covers an area of more than 1005 square kilometres and is probably Thailand’s best known National Park being the home of the country’s highest mountain, Doi Inthanon, which stands at 2565m (above sea level) and is thus dubbed ‘the Roof of Thailand’.the park is comprised of the largest tract of upper mountain forest Which ranges across Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, and ends in Northern Thailand. The mountain ranges gave birth to the main tributaries of the Ping river and formed the beautiful waterfalls, namely Siriphum, Wachirathan, Mae Pan, Mae Klang and Mae Ya. The moist and dense evergreen forest is abundant with lichens and wild orchids. The park is also a paradise for bird lovers. Visiting Doi Inthanon is possible throughout the year however,
the best period for viewing the waterfalls is May through November while the best period for viewing wild flowers is December through
The National Park is located only some 110 kms south west of Chiangmai making it ideal for a one-day trip from the city. Many tour companies offer this as a one-day tour but you should consider hiring a car, complete with driver if Thailand’s traffic is intimidating. This gives you increased freedom of movement and is the option I recently took along with three friends. Leaving Chiangmai we followed Highway 108 until just north of the town of Chom Thong where we turned off and made the ascent along the well-maintained road, directly to the summit.

At first glance the summit appears to be a disappointment with a sealed off military radar establishment at the end of the road. The best time to visit is in the cool season although at this altitude it can get a little chilly at all times of the year. In fact, not only is this Thailands highest point but also, according to records, its coldest. Today was no exception and as we set out to explore the two Thai members of our group, unaccustomed to the cold, were reaching for jackets immediately. We followed a path into the forest and reached a sign declaring this to be ‘the highest point in Thailand’

If you have more time Doi Inthanon is home to the Doi Inthanon Royal Project which can be found at Baan Khun Glang (บ้านขุนกลาง), about 11 kms off the main road near the kilometre 31 marker. The Project promotes a variety of agricultural practises through the mountain’s resident Karen and Meo hilltribe comunities and can be visited. Due to the climate on the mountain, cold weather flowers such as chrysanthemums and carnations make rare appearances for Thailand as do strawberries and apples.

There are also a number of hilltribe villages that can be seen but due to the number of visitors they receive the majority could hardly be described as unspoilt. We headed back towards Chiangmai but for a sample of hilltribe life we made a stop at a roadside Hmong market where the two ladies in our group stocked up on various produce that was well priced and not readily available in Chiangmai. Some of the elder Hmong were dressed in traditional costume and after making the effort to be polite, smiling a lot, and making a few purchases were only too happy to be photographed.
This was an enjoyable end to a thoroughly relaxing day and how I wished I could take the clear fresh air back into Chiangmai with us but held out little hope of such good fortune.


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