Containing Thailand’s highest peak, Doi Inthanon National Park is one of the nation’s original preservation areas and a major travel destination for Thais seeking a cool respite from the heat that dominates the lowlands.

The park encompasses forested jungle-clad mountains, with the 2,565 meter Doi Inthanon Mountain at the core. Also within the park is Thailand’s second-highest peak, Doi Hua Mot Luang at 2,330 meters. The mountain range is one of the main watersheds in northern Thailand, providing the water for numerous rivers including the essential Ping River.

Within the 482 square kilometers of the park are some of the country’s best-known waterfalls, and a number of big caverns such as Brichinda Cave. Mae Ya Waterfall is considered Thailand’s most scenic cascade, and Mae Klang, Siriphum, and Vachirathan waterfalls are also worth a look.

Although hilltribe people have denuded many parts of the forest and killed much of the original wildlife, there is still a thriving bird population and a handful of smaller elusive creatures. Wildlife is not the highlight of this park. However, the flora ranges from rare evergreen forests to myriad orchids, wildflowers and plants.

With its cool year-round climate, Thais and foreigners alike flock to the lofty heights of Doi Inthanon to take a refreshing break from the heat of the valleys below. The trees at the top are covered in thick moss due to the cool damp climate of the region. Excellent roads ensure everyone can get right to Thailand’s highest point with ease. In winter, the upper elevations regularly receive frosty mornings.

There are a number of lodging options within and around the park. Visitors can take leisurely walks through the informative nature walks in the jungle or trek further to visit an authentic Karen hilltribe village.

Getting There & Away

Doi Inthanon is most easily reached from Chiang Mai, the main city in northern Thailand and home to the closest international airport. From Chiang Mai, visitors can rent a car and make the scenic 2 to 3 hour drive with ease as everything is signed in English as well as Thai. Alternatively, there are dozens of tour companies in Chiang Mai that can arrange for a daytrip to the park.