Doi Inthanon

thailand

Thailand’s highest peak – Doi Inthanon – is surprisingly easy to climb.

Boasting cooler temperatures throughout the year, Doi Inthanon has managed to attract crowds of both local and foreign trekkers. The national park isn’t just popular for this peak, but also the numerous waterfalls, sunrise & sunset viewpoints and the surrounding remote villages.

Country
thailand
Height
2,560 m
Climbing Height
Rank
  • Highest peak in Thailand

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Natural Form and History

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - History

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Geological history

Looking at its geological buildup, Doi Inthanon is a granite batholith. With an elevation of over 2,560 m 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.

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Modern climbing history

Given that the heights of Inthanon are not so great, and that it is in an area of ancient settlements, we won't hazard to guess who first climbed it. Doi Inthanon was named after a Lanna King - Inthawichayanon. The king was highly concerned about preserving the forests of the north and his love for nature was so much so that he requested that his remains be laid to rest at the big mountain after his passing. 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 national parks of Thailand.

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Current popularity as a climbing destination

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 - Overview of the Trail

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Overall Assessment

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Summary of trail accessibility

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 8am 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.

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Trail options

Number of options
2
Summary

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.

This trail is pretty straightforward and consists of about a 360 m boardwalk. Completing this trail should take you no longer than 30minutes and you’ll wind up at an elevation of approximately 2,500 m above sea level. The trail is surrounded by lush forest, creating a very mild and comfortable climate throughout the year. In terms of flora and fauna, you will come across a lot of rhododendrons and moss. You’ll also probably want to stick to long socks in order to avoid possible leech attacks during the wetter seasons.

This is the harder trail of the two easy options. The journey is about 2.5km long and leads trekkers through a winding path amidst thick forests and can last anywhere from 2-4hours. However, if nature is what enticed you to take this trip in the first place, this is definitely the trail you’ll want to follow. Something that particularly deters visitors from taking this trail is that hiring a Hmong tribesman as your trail guide is compulsory and the fixed rate is 200 baht per group. However, the bonus here is that you get to hear a lot of stories about the mountain and the bio diverse ecosystem around you, from a local. When planning your trip, you’ll have to keep in mind that during the rainy season from June until the 1st of November, this trail is closed down.

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Most popular trail

Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Standard itinerary

Number of days
1
Summary

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.

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Day 1
  • Take a car/bike/songthaew from Chiang Mai to the Doi Inthanon National Park.
  • The almost-2 hour long drive includes 57km along Highway No. 108 towards Chom Thong and then a right turn onto Highway No. 1009, with approximately 30km more to go before you arrive at the entrance of the park. Entrance fee for the park is 300 baht per person.
  • Whilst slightly tiresome, but completely manageable given the brisk weather conditions, it is advisable that you leave your vehicle behind at the parking lot and head straight to the nearest ranger station to get yourself a map and some detailed information on the park. You’ll need to obtain official permission from the Park Office at km 31.
  • If you’re looking to stay, there are several accommodation options within the park, ranging from camping tents to bungalows and chalets.
  • Once you’ve started on this particular trail, the first kilometre will take you through a forest of tall trees, enveloped in layers of moss.
  • The second kilometre opens up to breathtaking views of rolling hills in the distance, green valleys down below and clear blue skylines, as you trek along the mountain’s ridge.
  • Finally, the last half kilometre will take trekkers back into the thickness of the forest, lined with waterfalls and clear streams.
  • You’ll be able to catch a quick glimpse of the two chedis in the distance, during the Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail. With an additional 40 baht entrance fee per person, you can get a closer look of the pagodas. The pagodas provide for great sunset views.

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Climbing Difficulty

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Terrain

Number of distinct sections
1
Summary

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 - Weather

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Overview of climate

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.

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Best time to climb

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.

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Common weather challenges

Rain:  An occasional unseasonal downpour is the only weather challenge that could mar your trip during the tourist season.

Sun:  Though it will not be uncomfortably hot in this season, the sun can still be harsh on your skin, so make sure you use sun protection in the form of sunscreen and sun glasses.

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Safety tips

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Climbing safety

This is a very safe climb.

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 repellant especially if you are planning on an overnight stay in the mountains.

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Personal safety

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.

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Safety for women travelers

This is a trek that finds much favor with solo women travelers, whether as a day trek or camping overnight.

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Recommended equipment

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Footwear

Closed (ideally waterproof) hiking or walking shoes

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Clothing
  • Any loose cotton clothes are apt for this trek; long pants and long sleeved shirts may offer some protection from scratches and insects
  • Warm inner clothing for when it gets chilly
Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Bags

Lightweight waterproof backpack (or none at all, if you’re just staying for a couple of hours)

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Weather protection
  • Rain coat / poncho
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Sun glasses
Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Climbing support

None necessary

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Navigation tools

None necessary

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Medical equipment

None necessary

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Food

Just water. Snacks optional.

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Hygene sanitation

None necessary

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Connectivity

Mobile phone optional

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Documents

None necessary

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Support facilities

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Resting stops and facilities

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Rest stops

There’s a coffee place right opposite the entrance to the Ang Ka Luang Nature Trail, called Summit Coffee. There are also a couple of markets at km 31.

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Base camp

Not applicable

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Guides and porters

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Do you need a guide?

For the Kew Mae Pan trail, a guide is mandatory

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - How to find a guide?

They will find you once you arrive. No booking in advance should be necessary.

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Tips while working with guides

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Porters

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Do you need a porter?

Not necessary

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - How to find a porter?
Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Tips while working with porters

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Food & water

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - At the start of the hike

Since your hiking journey isn’t too strenuous, a bottle of water is more than enough. 

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - During the hike, along the trail

If you feel like you haven’t packed appropriately, there are a few stores scattered along the way or you could always stock up at the km 31 markets.

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - During the hike, at base camp

Not applicable

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Network connectivity

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Phone and data (3G) connectivity

Full mobile connectivity could be expected throughout your hike.

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Accessibility

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Getting there

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Nearest airport
Chiang Mai International Airport
Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - From the airport to the starting point

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 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.

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Climbing permits

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Is a permit needed?
Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - How to get a permit?

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.

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Special Tips

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - For amateur climbers

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - For advanced climbers

If you consider yourself fit, you can make Inthanon more challenging by considering it a trail-run. Let us know your fastest time (and for which trail), and we’ll post it here.

Climbing Doi Inthanon Thailand - Other Mountains in thailand

Weather Right Now