Doi Inthanon National Park, often referred to as “The Roof of Thailand” is an iconic destination in Thailand’s northern Chiang Mai Province.
This park is not only home to the highest mountain in Thailand, Doi Inthanon, but also offers a wide range of attractions including lush green forests, thundering waterfalls, secluded campsites and beautiful temples.
Getting to Doi Inthanon National Park from Chiang Mai
The Doi Inthanon National Park is about 100 km from Chiang Mai city. The most convenient way to get there is by car or motorbike, taking 1.5 to 2 hours one way. Alternatively, you can join a guided tour or hire a taxi or songthaew (a shared taxi) for a day trip.
I personally visited Doi Inthanon with my old two-stroke motorbike which struggled due to the consistently steep windy roads.
Note: Doi Inthanon is much further away from Chiang Mai than Doi Suthep which you could do as an easy half day trip. Both mountains are worth visiting though.
Getting Around the National Park
The national park is huge, so having your own transport to explore is ideal. However, if you don’t have one, there are songthaews available for hire at the park entrance which can take you around the main attractions.
Alternatively, to keep it hassle free, you can also arrange a day trip from Chiang Mai (such as this one).
Things to do in Doi Inthanon National Park
Doi Inthanon Summit
The summit of Doi Inthanon sits at 2,565 meters above sea level. From up here you’ll get some pretty stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.
If you’re like me and just find Thailand consistently hot, then I’ve got some cool news for you (excuse the pun). The air temperature up at the summit typically ranges from 6 degrees in the winter to about 20 degrees in the summer which is significantly cooler than down at Chiang Mai city!
Hiking Trails on Doi Inthanon
Ang Ka Luang Nature Trail: this is a short but fascinating trail through a dense, mossy forest. It’s a boardwalk path, making it accessible and easy for most visitors.
Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail: this slightly longer 2.8km loop trail which takes you through the forest on Doi Inthanon and offers some of the most incredible views of the park. Taking a local guide is mandatory and will cost you 200THB (about $10), which directly funds the local hill tribe.
Pha Dok Siew Nature Trail: this is a 5.3km (there and back) trail which takes you to the Pha Dok Siew Waterfall and via the Karen Hill Tribe called Baan Mae Klang Luang village.
The two chedis called Naphamethinidon and Naphaphonphumisiri were built to honor the 60th birthday anniversaries of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit. They are surrounded by beautiful gardens and offer fantastic views of the surrounding ladscapes.
Waterfalls in Doi Inthanon National Park
When most people think of Doi Inthanon National Park the summit comes to mind. However, there are also loads of great waterfalls to explore. The water tends to flow all year round, so it’s worth visiting at any time. Also note that swimming options are very limited as the waterfalls are quite rocky and without suitable pools.
Here is a brief overview of each. The locations are all pinned on the map too!
Mae Klang Waterfall: The first major waterfall you will encounter as you pass through the park’s entrance. Mae Klang stands about 100 meters high. Its proximity to the main road makes it one of the more visited waterfalls, offering easy access for all.
Wachirathan Waterfall: one of the largest waterfalls on Doi Inthanon standing at an impressive 80 meters in height. The viewing area takes you fairly close to the base. This waterfall is located just a short walk from the main road, making it one of the most accessible and therefore popular waterfalls in the park. I also wrote about this on Southeast Asia Backpacker as being one of the best waterfalls in Thailand.
Sirithan Waterfall: this 40 meter high cascading waterfall is located nearby Wachirathan Waterfall. Despite its convenient location, it is far less visited. Once you arrive at the carpark there is a short 150 meter board walk to a viewing platform. Keep an eye out for the small parking area as it’s poorly signposted.
Pha Dok Siew Waterfall: This smaller 10-meter waterfall is part of the Pha Dok Siew nature trail about a 20-minute walk from the main road. While the waterfall may not be the largest, the walk takes you through rice terraces and past a local Karen village (Baan Mae Klang Luang) adding a unique cultural insight which many other visitors don’t experience.
Mae Ya Waterfall: This is by far the most impressive waterfall in Doi Inthanon National Park standing at a massive 260 meters tall, roughly 30 stories! However, the waterfall is located in an off the beaten path area of the park, so it not heavily visited by travelers but more so photography enthusiasts. From the carpark you will need to walk around 500 meters to Mae Ya Waterfall.
Mae Pan Waterfall: This smaller 20 meter waterfall is located in a secluded southwestern part of the national park and sees far less visitors than the others listed here. Mae Pan waterfall is located around 500 meters from the main road. There is also a campground located here for adventurers that would like to stay a night out in nature.
Siriphum Waterfall: at a height of about 50 meters, Siriphum Waterfall is the last major waterfall you will see heading up to the summit of Doi Inthanon. It is located a short walk from the main road making it easily accessible and popular for visitors. Around February each year the garden here blooms with the cherry blossoms, well worth seeing if you happen to be visiting then.
Commonly Asked Questions
What is the weather like on Doi Inthanon?
Due to its higher altitudes, Doi Inthanon has a cooler climate compared to the rest of Thailand. Day time temperatures tend to range between 6 degrees in the winter months, to around 20 degrees in the summer months. It’s worth packing a light jumper just in case it’s colder than you think.
May to October is the rainy season when the green forests are lush, and waterfalls flow strongly. November to February is dry and cool, while March to April is warmer and dry.
Personally, I suggest the best time of year to visit is around November. However, it’s still worth visiting all year round.
What is the Doi Inthanon entrance fee?
The entrance fee for Doi Inthanon National Park is 300 THB for foreign adults and 150 THB for foreign children. For Thai citizens, the fee is 50 THB for adults and 20 THB for children.
Split pricing for foreigners and locals is applied as for many other national parks in Thailand. You won’t get any discounts by arguing it.
Is Doi Inthanon worth visiting?
Absolutely, it’s a great one day escape from the city. Doi Inthanon is an awesome spot for nature lovers, hikers, bird watchers, and cultural enthusiasts. The park offers a wide range of attractions from the highest peak in Thailand with unbeatable views, to beautiful waterfalls, exotic birds and fascinating hill tribe villages.
Where to Next?
There are loads of great activities around Chiang Mai such as climbing (other) mountains, swimming under refreshing waterfalls, and exploring hundreds of years old local villages. Spending a few days here? I highly recommend you read this guide on my top places to visit near Chiang Mai, it’s filled with great ideas for day trips.
Then, why not head further north to explore Chiang Rai? I spent a little of 6 months living in this far northern sleepy end of Thailand, during which time I compiled this epic list of 25 Awesome Things to do in Chiang Rai. Trust me, there’s a lot more to see than the White Temple!
Or slow down completely and venture across to Pai in Mae Hong Son Province where you can easily spend two weeks doing almost nothing.
Got any questions on Doi Inthanon or more generally Northern Thailand? Drop me a message on Instagram and I’m happy to assist.