The roof of Thailand is located in Doi Inthanon National Park from Chiang Mai, a great day trip from Chiang Mai. A part of the Himalayas, the park ranges in elevation reaching over 8,000’. Temperatures can be in the 50s – even getting frost at times, don’t forget a light jacket. Time from Chiang Mai is approximately two hours and attractions are sporadically located along a road – either renting a car or hiring a private driver is recommended. We went with a driver through the Thai National Parks website and their service is great. Pricing is expensive, 3,000 baht total, but you get the whole day and relaxation. Entrance to the park is 300 baht and there are additional fees for certain attractions. There are plenty of places to eat within the park.
+Our first stop was to visit the royal stupas and gardens, a small entrance fee is required. Commemorated for the king and queens 60th birthdays, these magnificent temples sit on top of the clouds.
I gravitated towards the queens, Phra Mahathat Naphaphonphumisiri, which means ‘being the strength of the air and the grace of the land’ erected in 1992.
I have never seen a lilac temple, it looks like a flower itself. Inside the walls and ceiling are covered with delicate and stunning images.
There are explanations for all of the images in English and you can learn much about the life of Buddha.Outside walk the circumference and admire the mesmerizing purple scenes.
The garden out back was even more magical with cloudy fog dipping in and out.
The kings temple, Phra Mahathat Naphamethinidon, translates to ‘by the strength of the land and air’ and was built in 1987.
The temple and garden are equally as exquisite, with a brown motif.
+Afterwards I was excited for a hike to the Highest Spot in Thailand at 8,416’ above sea level.
I had to laugh, realizing that my presumed hike was a walk that took less than five minutes. We did pass by a nice shrine though. It is also great that this point in the country is accessible to just about anyone. There is an interesting little museum next door which tells a lot about the ecosystem within the park. I learned a lot here about the endemic species and general flora and fauna.
+Across the street is an actual hike, the Ang Ka Luang Nature Trail, through the sphagnum bog on a boardwalk.
The hike is a loop through the cloud forest just a quarter of a mile long. There is just a bit of elevation to gain and loose, but you really feel it due to the altitude! Informational plaques about the environment are spread throughout the trail.
+One of the most popular hikes in the park, Kaew Mae Pan Nature Trail, requires a Hmong Tribe guide. It’s really a wonderful trek, but the guide for 200 baht is totally unnecessary and felt like a shake down. Our guide didn’t try to teach us anything, point out any wildlife, or add to our hike at all. He just walked behind us. The hike however, was nice. The loop trail is 2 miles with some moderate rolling hills and very well maintained.
The plant life is spot,
look closely to find carnivorous plants.
A lovely little waterfall flows beside the trail.
When we made it to the panoramic viewpoint, there was nothing there!
It did make an eerie sight, neat in its own way.
I was too stubborn to keep moving, even though it was quite chilly standing in a cloud. Lo and behold, the clouds gave way to a partial view of the rocky outcropping below.
Flowers are all over, most impressive to me, the endemic rhododendron.
and pinks too speckled the sidelines.
We didn’t see too much in the way of wildlife, except this fancy blue iridescent beetle!
I’ll take it. A spur off the loop lead to a vista that was blissfully clear,
and a remarkable view of the pagodas in the distance.
Funny how the clouds move, once we made it back to the parking lot across the way was bright blue!
+The next spot was much less visited, off the main road a bit, Siriphum Waterfall is a hidden gem. You can see the falls as you’re driving to the trailhead. There is a very small fee to enter. Be whisked away into a magical land of ferns higher than your head.
These are tree ferns which grow over 30’ tall, found only on high mountains. Curling sprouts were as big as my fist!
A meandering creek, stone bridges, and wooden gazebos over make for an enchanting stroll.
To get to the base of the waterfall, of which the park is known for, is easy – but the view isn’t that stupendous.
You can only see the base clearly due to the dense vegetation.
However, if you’re feeling adventurist you can scramble up the slippery side of the falls to get a better look.
+A much easier falls to see, Sirithan Waterfall is located right off the side of the road down a short set of stairs.
It is free to check out from the wooden platform.
+Another free site to discover is Watchiran Waterfall, and you shouldn’t miss it.
Everyone else is there too, it’s very popular, but there is a reason for that.
It’s a glamorous falls with so many different angles to view at.
You will get wet if you go close enough! Following downstream there are so many delightful cascades.
Be sure to follow the path to its conclusion, in the lower parking lot.
A set of stairs heading up to the top of the falls seemed promising. We followed it high, tired from all the hiking we had done in the day. There were plenty of spurs leading to different tiers of the falls, none more magnificent than what we had already seen. Some gorgeous little wildflowers.
When we reached the top we were waiting for something spectacular to reward us for our efforts. Joke was on us! It only led up to a dirt parking lot near the side of the road. Take it from me, it isn’t worth climbing those stairs made by trolls!
+Our last stop of the day was to Mae Klang Waterfall, over 300′ high.
You are supposed to pay a fee, but no one was there so we lucked out this time. It is a short walk get to this beautiful waterfall and there are stairs which you can walk to the top of it which peak out to some nice views. While any time of year is a good time to visit the park, popular natural events include the blossoming of pink Siamese sakura flowers in January and February and the big bird migration from March to May.