Doi Inthanon: Thailand’s Highest Peak
Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Mountain Stats
- #1 Highest Peak in Thailand
- The Roof of Thailand
Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Natural Form and History
Natural Doi Inthanon Thailand - Natural history
Looking at its geological buildup, Doi Inthanon is a granite batholith. With an elevation of over 2,560m above sea level, Doi Inthanon is considered an ultra prominent peak in the Southeast Asian region. The Inthanon Range is a part of the Thanon Thong Chai Range, which in turn is a part of the Thai highlands’ Shan Hills.
Natural Doi Inthanon Thailand - Climbing history
The conservation of the vast pine forests surrounding the Doi Inthanon Range was officially announced in 1954. This led to the birth of today’s Doi Inthanon National Park, just one of the 14 other national parks of Thailand.
Many tribes have settled in the surrounding villages and the authorities have kept both the needs of tourists as well as the local villagers in mind, in order to create a peaceful coexistence of traditions, culture and modern tourism and development.
Doi Inthanon has always been a point of convergence between natural beauty and historical significance. Monuments, locally referred to as chedis, dedicated to King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit’s 60th birthday celebrations sit atop the mountain peak. The Bhumibol Dam together with the power of the Ping River work to provide hydroelectricity to the region. The peaks and numerous rivers combine to create many waterfalls that add to the beauty of this national park (the Mae Yai, Mae Pan, Mae Klang, Pha Khun Na, Wang Khwai, Wachirathan, Sirithan, and Siriphum waterfalls).
The national park is home to over 360 different species of birds, making it the best place for bird watching within the entire Thai nation. The park spans over an area of 482 square km, ranging from a mere 800m elevation all the way to 2,565m above sea level. In addition to the birds, Doi Inthanon also plays host to a wide variety of animal species, flora and fauna. It doesn’t take much luck to spot a few barking deer, porcupines and monkeys scurrying about in their natural habitat!
Natural Doi Inthanon Thailand - Current status
Despite the cold, Doi Inthanon manages to reel in the crowds, with even as many as over 10,000 eager hikers completing the summit on New Year’s Day.
Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Climbing Experience & Itinerary
Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Climbing Experience
Surprisingly, despite its elevation and breathtaking views, Doi Inthanon isn’t going to be one of the harder summits you’ll successfully conquer in your hiking adventures. In fact, for most travelers, beginning the day at 08:00 from their stay in Chiang Mai could mean they’ll be back at the hotel again by early evening after a thorough tour of the national park! So even if you are a beginner still learning to grow a love for adventure and heights all at once, Doi Inthanon could be a great choice for you. Remember, unlike its easier and quicker counterpart, the Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail requires a reasonable level of physical activity. The trail consists of steep steps to climb and descend through thick forests.
Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Trail options
Doi Inthanon isn’t a very intimidating hike even for the most amateur hikers. For the most part your set of wheels will be able to take you towards the top, but the few hundred metres to the actual summit point from the parking lot can be hiked by foot.
Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Support facilities
Guides and porters
Food & water
Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Safety & Accessibility
Generally, this part of Thailand has three major seasons – the hot season runs from March through June, the monsoon from June through October, and cool and dry season from November through February. There is no one best time to climb Inthanon. With the peak’s high altitude, Doi Inthanon boasts a perpetually chilly climate all year round, with temperatures even dropping below freezing during the winter season.
An occasional unseasonal downpour is the only weather challenge that could mar your trip.
Though it will not be uncomfortably hot from March to June, the sun can still be harsh on your skin, so make sure you use sun protection in the form of sunscreen and sunglasses.
Slippery surfaces: Unexpected rain can slow your progress and make the trail slippery and treacherous at some points.
Insects: As is typical with any wilderness, you are likely to encounter a few insects and mosquitos. Make sure to use insect repellent especially if you are planning on an overnight stay in the mountains.
Being a popular destination, it is very unlikely you will ever be completely alone or isolated on this trek so there is little to worry about in terms of personal safety.
Permits, Fees, and Regulations
A permit will not be required if you only plan on taking the Ang Ka Luang Nature Trail. However, if you do want to make the most of your trip and try out the Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail, remember to pay the mandatory guide fee and obtain permission at the Park’s office at km 31.
Tourist Police: 1155
Fire & Ambulance: 191
Getting there and away
Chiang Mai International Airport is the nearest airport. Your ride from Chiang Mai to the entrance of the national park should take you close to 2 hours by car. If you haven’t got a car or bike, you can always hail a songthaew from the Chiang Mai streets. A common practice is to negotiate a fee for the day so the driver will take you to Doi Inthanon, wait whilst you explore the park and then bring you back to Chiang Mai.
The entrance fee for the park is 300 baht per head. Hiring a Hmong tribesman as your trail guide on the Kew Mae Pan trail will cost 200 baht per group. On this trail, you’ll have to pay an extra 40 baht per person to get a closer look of the pagodas.
Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Special Tips
Tips for amateur climbers
The hike to the top of Doi Inthanon will not take you more than the first half of your day. As mentioned before, your wheels will be doing most of the work and then you’ve got about a 2.5km nature trail with a local Hmong tribesman.
Tips for advanced climbers
If you consider yourself fit, you can make Inthanon more challenging by considering it a trail-run.
Tips for women
This is a trek that finds much favour with solo women travelers.
Tips for trail runners
Trail running is popular at Doi Inthanon so if you’re up for it, check on how you can take part in one of the upcoming races!
Tips for nature lovers
Doi Inthanon is home to a biodiverse ecosystem, giving you glimpses of much flora and fauna along the way, on either trail. You’ll also probably want to wear long socks in order to avoid leech attacks during the wetter seasons.