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Chiang Mai Activities Chiang Mai Sightseeing Chiang Mai Trekking

Inthanon National Park

A lovely day at Inthanon National Park

inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon, doi inthanon

Inthanon National Park is the highest mountain  of Thailand, 2776 metres above sea level. Doi Inthanon forms the watershed between the Ping River to the east and the Chaem River to the west, both of which eventually feed the Chao Phraya River, which supplies water to rice farms of the central plains and to Bangkok.

Inthanon National Park extends over an area in excess of 48,000 ha and, after the road climbs through the lower dry regions, there is a noticeable drop in temperature and increase in lush vegetation. This is a land more reminiscent of the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island mists, ferns, rhododendrons and a wonderful feeling of freshness everywhere.

inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon, doi inthanon

One of the places to admire such flowers bloom is at the Chiang Mai Royal Agricultural Research Center (Khun Wang) in Mae Wang district. The flowers are always in full bloom during the second week of January and will last for about two weeks. Late February is the ideal time to see the full blooms of the red rhododendrons. At the summit (in January, an average nighttime temperature is a chilly 5 Centigrade), there is a large sign which advises “The Highest Point in Thailand” and, of course, this is a photo opportunity for every visitor. The ruins of an ancient temple is a short distance through the trees and a stupa, in which the ashes of King Inthawichayanon (after whom Doi Inthanon is named) are interred, may also be visited.

inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon, doi inthanon

Many activities are available at Doi Intharion : here is a list of the top activities to do, from the top of the mountain to the bottom. First is the peak of Doi Inthanon (Km 48) : once up here, you’ll be at the highest (and probably coldest) point in Thailand. From this point, if you are interested in mountain hiking, villagers can take you on a long trek in the surrounding forest where you will meet with Karen and Hmong villages (half day and full day trek). Nearby the peak of Doi Inthanon is a radar station belonging to the Thai Air Force as well as a memorial of the last ruler of Chiang Mai.

inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon, doi inthanon

Just a few meters below the summit car park you will find the start to the Ang Ka natrure trail this 360m long elevated boarded walkway is well worth the effort as it will take you into the un spoilt forest and you will really be able to get a feel for the flora which exits at this altitude.

inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon, doi inthanon

Kiew Mae Pan (Km 42) is one of the most beautiful and rewarding walks in the park is a new trail which begins a short distance up the main summit road from Napamaytanidol. The path leads for a kilometer or more through dense, moist evergreen forest, then emerges and follows the top of a steep slope bordering the canyon headwaters of the Mae Pan River. Dotted with red rhododendron, the trail proceeds southward for another kilometer with fine, open views to the west, then re-enters the forest and eventually terminates at Napamaytanidol Chedi. Two hours would allow a leisurely walk with camera stops.

inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon, doi inthanon

About 500 meters from Kiew Mae Pan. Visit one of the best points to stop to take in the views over the Doi Inthanon National park can be found at the location of the twin Royal pagodas (Km 41.5) which were built by the Royal Thai Air Force in commemoration of the 60th birthday of Their Majesties The King and Queen in 1987 and 1992 respectively.

inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon, doi inthanon

The Hmong market (Km 31) is a good choice for anyone who is looking for products or souvenirs created by members of this hill tribe. They wear Black trousers with a dark jacket with embroidered collars and green, white and blue stripes on their long sleeves. Traditional rice growing and gardens in the hills is being replaced by emphasis on other cash crops cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes and strawberries which were introduced as a substitute for opium growing. Hmong are involved in several royal projects such as the Doi Inthanon Royal Project which focus on crop substitution.

inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon, doi inthanon

Wachirathan

inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon, doi inthanon

Siriphum

Inthanon National Park also houses some of the region’s most beautiful waterfalls, some have calm pools where one can fully immerse oneself, while other are simply beautiful, shady spots to dip your toes. Most waterfalls can get thunderous in the wet season and caution should be exercised on slippery rocks and, if you might not always get them all to yourself, the sight of relaxed, smiling locals enjoying the tranquil settings is an experience in itself. The most spectacular waterfalls : Mae Klang, Wachirathan, Siriphum Mae Pan and Mae Ya Falls.

inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon, doi inthanon

Mae Ya

inthanon national park, doi inthanon national park, inhanon, doi inthanon

Sirithan

How to get to Inthanon National Park

Inthanon National park is situated about 60km south west of Chiang Mai via highway 108 then turning right in Chom Thong onto the 1009 The highest mountain Doi Inthanon is actually a further 50 Km drive into the Park. Using public transport to visit the Park is a bit limiting, although you can charter a songteaw in Chom tong to take you to the main attractions in the park. If you don’t have your own transport then consider one of the organized tours which depart from Chiang Mai daily.

Entrance fee

The cost of entry is 300 THB for adults and 200 THB for children.

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Chiang Mai Activities Chiang Mai Trekking

Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail

Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail is one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in Chiang Mai

kew mae pan, kew mae pan nature trail, Kiew mae pan, kiew mae pan nature trail

Kew Mae Pan is renowned as the most picturesque viewpoint for the sea of hill fog and the sunrise at dawn atop Doi lnthanon National Park, the highest mountain in Thailand. It is a grand creation of nature to highlight that we are only small human on the mountain’s height of 2,000 meters above the sea level.

If you plan on visiting ‘Doi Inthanon‘ and see beautiful sunrise, it is a good idea to take the opportunity to visit ‘Kiew Mae Pan‘ before making a trip back.

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There are many nature trails on Doi Inthanon, the favorite one is Kew Mae Pan which suitable for everyone who have limited of time. This trail is about 3 kilometers long take about 2-4 hours every groups need a trekking leader. All 21 stations offer detailed explanations about the plants and ecosystems, whether it be ferns from ancient times, Himalayan flora species, dense cloud forest or grassland.

“At the northwestern end of Kew Mae Pan forest, you can see a tiny water source only a metre in diameter.”

The tiny stream cascades down the mountain’s evergreen forest, combining with other small streams and finally becoming an impressive waterfall hidden in the deep jungle.

kew mae pan, kew mae pan nature trail, Kiew mae pan, kiew mae pan nature trail

kew mae pan, kew mae pan nature trail, Kiew mae pan, kiew mae pan nature trail

“Its height is more than 100m in total,” Soonthorn confirmed.

During rainy season, it’s easy to spot the white stripe of the waterfall among the dense jungle while driving on highway 1192 from the national park’s second checkpoint. But it is a bit far from other attractions on the mountain, which is probably why Mae Pan Falls is far less popular than Kew Mae Pan. Standing about 2,200m above sea level, Kew Mae Pan is among the best nature trails available in Thailand’s national parks.

Kew means narrow path, and this one snakes along a towering mountain range which is home to great variety of plants and animals.

“Just dim light and fog may be enough for the delicate fern to grow. It may turn brown and lifeless in summer, however, it springs back to life once it gets moisture from the fog in the rainy and hot season,” a sign along the trail explained about the highland fern.

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kew mae pan, kew mae pan nature trail, Kiew mae pan, kiew mae pan nature trail

At such heights, we try to walk much slower than usual, allowing our lungs to absorb more oxygen from thin air.

Slow hiking, by the way, allows us to notice the natural wonder on the trail to Mae Pan Falls. Trees grow as high as 40m to get light while the cloud regularly hits the mountain and soaks the whole forest with high moisture.

Moss and tiny ferns cover all tree trunks. When cloud hits the forest, covering the whole with mist, they all seem to be shivering under green blankets. The most stunning view is a semi-alpine meadow that sits side by side with the jungle, but on the other side of the slope. The meadow is caused by severe deforestation from the past. Strong winds prevent young plants from growing here.

kew mae pan, kew mae pan nature trail, Kiew mae pan, kiew mae pan nature trail

kew mae pan, kew mae pan nature trail, Kiew mae pan, kiew mae pan nature trail

It is said that Kew Mae Pan is most beautiful during rainy season when the forest recovers its lushness after the dry spell. However, it is a pity that the trail is also temporary closed in the rainy season, allowing nature to refresh.

So, if you want to see the Doi Inthanon forest at its greenest, Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail may be a good choice.

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kew mae pan, kew mae pan nature trail, Kiew mae pan, kiew mae pan nature trail

How to get to Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail

The Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail, is found at kilometer 42 on the road to the summit.  It has been developed as an ‘educative nature trail’ and there are quite a few signs (in Thai and English) along the well-maintained trail. 

Opening hours & Entrance fee

The trail open from beginning of Nov until the end of May each year. It’s 200 baht per group to hire a guide for the trail, which isn’t optional.