Doi Inthanon is the highest mountain of Thailand. The highest point is 2565 meters above see level. The Doi Inthanon National Park is located about 100 km south-west of Chiang Mai, and is easily accessible by car or motorbike. Near the top of the mountain is a very short hiking trail in a beautiful forest area; this one is open throughout the year. A few kilometers before the top is a longer nature trail, which takes you through forest area and an open “alpine-meadow”. This trail is closed during the rainy season, from 1st June to 31st October. At the start of this trail you have to hire a guide (200 Baht) who will lead your group along the trail and provides background information about the forest. The guides are people from the nearby tribal village.
Photos of the Doi Inthanon hike
Here are some photos to give a first impression of what to expect during this hike. The first part of the hike is in a dense green jungle with high trees and ferns. The trail is well maintained and takes you to a small waterfall in the middle of the forest. After some time, the forest suddenly stops and you arive in an alpine meadow. The trail then continues along a ridge, with forest on one side and open area on the other side. You will have fantastic views over the surrounding area.
The starting point of this hike is on road 1009, at the parking place just a few hundred meters past the turn off to the two Napamaytanidol Chedi. Geo-coordinates (in decimal degrees) for the starting point are:
Here is a map of the hike.
This trail is at an altitude of about 2,200 meters. The trail has a length of about only 3 km but still needs 2 to 4 hours to complete, because you will be stopping many times to enjoy the forest and views and to take photographs.
The first part of the trail is in dark evergreen forest with high trees. You will see a lot of different plants including mosses and ferns. There are plenty of birds high up in the trees; you will hear them but they are often difficult to see. The trail leads past a small waterfall and crosses a stream.
After walking for some time through the dark forest, suddenly the trees will stop and you enter an open area with grasses, ferns and other small plants. The path through this area leads to the top of a ridge from where you have panoramic views over the valley beyond if you happen to be there on a clear day. On cloudy days you may be looking down on top of clouds or you may be standing in a fog.
Now the trail follows the ridge. On the left side you have dense forest, and on the right is completely open with views down into the valley. The area is scattered with rhododendrom trees, which bear red flowers if you happen to come on the right moment. Small edible berry bearing bushes cover the ground near the path.
At the end of the ridge you get a view towards the two chedi, and then you go back into the forest where the trail takes you back to the starting point. All along the way the guide will tell you about the plants and animals in the area, but most guides don’t speak much English, so it is good to have somebody in your group who can translate Thai language.
After walking this hike, continue along road 1009 for about 4.5 km to reach the top of Doi Inthanon. Just 100 meters before the end of the road (on the left side) is another short walking trail. It’s only a 20 minutes walk, but it leads you through exceptional beautiful forest with trees overgrown with ferns, and there are a lot of birds in this area.
Download the tracks
With the following links you can download the hike. The .kml (keyhole markup language) and .kmz files can be opened in Google Earth. The .gpx file can probably be used in your GPS device, but as you will be walking with a guide, there is no way to get lost on this hike.
To download a file, right-click the link and then save it to your computer.
KML: nature_trail_inthanon.kml (16,933 bytes)
KMZ: nature_trail_inthanon.kmz (5,665 bytes)
GPX: nature_trail_inthanon.gpx (24,550 bytes)
How to get there?
From Chiang Mai take road 108 and drive south for about 55 km.
Just before reaching Chom Thong, turn right and follow road 1009 (there are clear signboards showing that this is the road to doi Inthanon). This road will eventually (after about 47 km) take you to the top of Doi Inthanon.
When you see the turn off to the two Chedis, continue for a few hundred meters where you will see a big parking place on the left side of the road. This is where the nature trail starts. It’s about 4.5 kilometers before the summit of Doi Inthanon.
KML: Chiang_Mai_to_Doi_Inthanon.kml (56,734 bytes)