Day Trip to Doi Inthanon

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Thailand Fly & Drive – Part 27 (Chiang Mai)

After a great breakfast at the Mae Win Guesthouse, the Lion family sets off for a day trip up Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest peak at 2565 metres above sea level. This majestic mountain lies in Chiang Mai province just a two hour drive from the city. This peak is unique in that there is a well-maintained paved road that goes all the way to the top. Many people go up the mountain to camp and to chase the beautiful sunrise or sunset views.

Doi Inthanon Checkpoint

After slightly more than an hour’s drive from our accommodation at Mae Win, we reach the checkpoint. This is where we were supposed to pay the National Park admission fee of THB300 for adult foreigners and THB150 for child foreigners. As we passed the checkpoint, we wound down our windows and the officer spoke to us in Thai. We didn’t understand a word, but we just nodded out head and said “kap kap”. He actually let us through without having to pay. We honestly didn’t do this on purpose… it was only after our visit that we found out there was supposed to be an entrance fee. I guess it helped that we were driving a Thai registered car and we happen to have Thai music blaring from our car sound system. Having some Burmese blood in me and a bit of a tan from driving many days in the sun, we definitely could pass off looking like Thai.

Driving up Doi Inthanon

After clearing the checkpoint, we take the winding route up the mountain, with a little gap in out windows to let in the fresh air. Not too big a gap though, because the weather is freezing cold. Later we found out that it got to be as low as 6 degrees at the top of the mountain. All of us only had light sweaters on. I didn’t have any outer covering at all (because I’m fat and built for winter).

We park the car at the car park right at the top of the mountain, and walk the short path that leads to the highest point.

The start of the climb

We are grateful that the steps are easy to navigate, wide and in good condition. My wife, who struggles with her balance due to Cerebral Palsy, didn’t want to follow us at first, but after some persuasion she agreed to come along. It turned out a manageable route for her, even with her physical difficulties.

The kids were fine, but they were very cold!

We reach the highest point, and there is not much of a view from there, but there is a sign that marks the spot for us to take pictures and gain some bragging rights.

At 2565 metres above sea level, the highest point in Thailand

There is also a shrine where many visitors paid their respects and offered up their prayers.

After taking photos, we proceed back downwards using the route in the other direction, which takes us down to the Doi Inthanon visitor centre.

Well maintained steps lead to the highest point of the mountain. An easy climb for anyone!

The visitor centre is a good place to learn more about the mountain and the flora and fauna that inhabit the National Park.

6 degrees and I’m just wearing a polo shirt!
It is freezing but not too cold for a family-fie!

After browsing the displays at the visitor centre, we find our way to the little shops at the side, where we happily order some warm sausages and cup noodles, sitting in the morning sun to warm ourselves up! Very “shiok” to be having warm noodles in the freezing cold weather!

Of course there are other things to see on this mountain. We will cover our visit to the King’s and Queen’s Pagoda in the next blog episode!

  • Value for Money (6/10): At THB300 for adults and THB150 for kids, the entrance fee is a bit steep. There are other national parks that are much more worth the price of entry. To be fair, we did not try out any of the nature trails or visit the waterfalls here.
  • Quality of Experience (6.5/10): The view could have been better at the top, a bit underwhelming. There are some nice viewpoints a bit lower down the mountain. The visitor centre was educational.
  • The Kids Loved It (7/10): Little Baby Lion 5/10 “because we didn’t see any pandas”; Little Lion Cub 7/10 “it was fascinating, but too cold!”; Little Lioness Cub 9/10 “it was shiok to eat the instant noodles in the cold weather!”
  • The Adults Loved It: (7/10): I enjoyed it mainly because of the weather. No need to go further north to enjoy the feeling of winter.
  • Memories Created (7/10): We will remember freezing together as a family and snacking in the cold….
  • Crowds (6/10): Rather crowded. The car park is packed!
  • OVERALL RATING(6.5/10) If you are in Chiang Mai, it is a nice day trip out from the city. Perhaps more enjoyable on an organised tour with a guide to explain the context. If you want to get a fuller experience, do spend a few days camping here and exploring the trails, but be prepared for the bitter cold.

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