After spending a few weeks working and getting settled into our new life in Chiang Mai, we were starting to feel the need to get away and do something fun. Luckily, thanks to a digital nomad coffee meet up, we met a couple of cool kids who were up for a few days of getting away. Soon, we found ourselves heading to Doi Inthanon National Park for a weekend camping trip.
- Doi Inthanon National Park
- How to Get to Doi Inthanon National Park
- Cost to Enter Doi Inthanon National Park
- Camping at Doi Inthanon National Park
- The Camping Grounds at Doi Inthanon National Park
- What to Bring for Camping:
- Things to do at Doi Inthanon National Park
- See all the Waterfalls
- Visit The Royal Twin Pagodas
Doi Inthanon National Park
This National Park is home to the tallest point in entire Thailand. Situated 2500 meters above sea level, this tall and stunning mountain is the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of Chiang Mai city due to its picturesque scenery and cool weather. Located just two hours away from Chiang Mai, this place exceeded our expectations as we were pleasantly surprised with their facilities and with the amount of things to do around the area. People particularly flock towards this National Park due to the amount of scenic waterfalls to see, along with some popular nature trails.
How to Get to Doi Inthanon National Park
From Chiang Mai, there’s a variety of ways to reach the national park. You can either join one of the many tours organized by the local tour agencies, you can hire a car (around $15-20 a day) or you can also drive up there on your motorbike. It is an easy two-hour drive and the views alone made it pretty worth it. We took our motorbike but some of the people we were with drove up in a rental car. Most of the tours from Chiang Mai still require you to pay the park fees on top of the transport fees. Alternatively, you can also arrange for a Songthaew to drive you there and back if you are traveling as a group.
Insider Tip: If you’re going with a large group of friends, you can just rent a car and drive it yourself. You will need an International Driver’s license to be able to officially rent a car here in Thailand. So if you are still in your home country, take 10 minutes out of your time and get the license! It would be well worth it. Similarly, you can rent a scooter or motorbike regardless if you have your International license or not. However, cops randomly pull tourist’s over to check it they have this so be prepared to pay a fine if you don’t.
Cost to Enter Doi Inthanon National Park
Upon entering the park, you will reach a checkpoint where you will need to pay the entrance fees. There is a separate price list for locals and foreigners. (Prices as of May 2016)
Foreigners: Adults: 300 THB/ Children: 150 THB
Locals: Adults: 50 THB/ Children: 20 THB
Camping at Doi Inthanon National Park
The camping process was completely hassle free and was very easy to organize! Our friend planned the whole thing (thanks Rick!) just by following the information on the National Park Website. However, to make things easier for you, here is everything you need to know if you want to go camping in Doi Inthanon. As soon as you pass the checkpoints where you have to pay the National Park Fees, head towards the Main Camp Headquarters. The entire place is very tourist friendly with signs everywhere, making it virtually impossible to miss. As soon as you enter, drive towards the building which says accommodation headquarters (I don’t remember exactly what it’s called!). As soon as you get there, head towards the front desk and just tell them that you want to camp in the area. He will then bring out a price list of how much the camping gear costs.
Tent (good for 3): 250 THB
Sleeping Bag, pillows, and mats are all available for rent as well. I cannot remember the exact price but for all three, it would not exceed 50 THB. If you have your own camping gear, inquire about how much it is to pitch a tent. We do not know for sure as all of us had to rent gear. However, from the research that I have done, prices are around 35-50 THB per person in order to use their camping facilities.
The Camping Grounds at Doi Inthanon National Park
After renting the gear, the staff will point you in the direction of the main camping grounds. Located amidst high pine trees are set campsites where you can pitch your tent. The park comes with bathroom facilities, including a hot shower which was a pleasant surprise to us all. Apart from the clean toilets, the camp site had picnic benches and power sockets to charge your electronics. The best part about it all? All around the campsite, there were large coolers full of ice. Thailand camping for the win! Soon, with very little effort (that’s actually a lie as we struggled with our tent), we began setting up our spot where we were to enjoy a night full of stories, charades, singing and wine (lots of it).
Within walking distance to the campsites, you can find local restaurants and markets where you can get a meal for 40-50 THB. The price of drinks and food wasn’t inflated as well so don’t worry about bringing everything with you on your trip! Apart from this main campsite, I believe there are two more spots where you can pitch a tent. One is by the Mae Pan area (camping gear isn’t available for rent here) and the other one is by Suriya campsite near the hill tribe village. If you don’t feel like becoming one with nature, there are various accommodations like wooden cabins that are available for rent.
What to Bring for Camping:
- A light jacket (the park can get cold)
- Camping gear (only if you have)
- Sports shoes for the trails
- Money for food/ park fees
- Wine (we brought 9L with us- cue in: the slow clap!)
Everything else was available in the many local stores and restaurants inside the National Park.
Things to do at Doi Inthanon National Park
Kaew Mae Pan Nature Trail
We all woke up the next day feeling a bit rough as we had a little bit too much wine and rum. Regardless, we decided to suck it up and do the Kaew Mae Pan Nature Trail. We haven’t read many reviews about it and all we knew was that you needed to hire a local guide for 200 THB to walk you through the trail. There wasn’t a minimum number of people to a guide so the cost wasn’t too bad. If there is one thing that I can recommend everyone to do while in the park, it would be to take the time to actually do this trail.
It was a short 2.78km trail which led you through the forest and cliffside. There were 21 different points which had short blurbs written in both Thai and English explaining which part you are in. Walking through the forest was pretty cool but what made it for us was the panoramic views of the mountains as soon as you start walking along the cliff. This trail is highly recommended, even for those doing a day trip!
See all the Waterfalls
Along the entire park, you will see various signs that point towards different waterfalls. Most of them are also easily accessible by car/ motorbike. With ease, you can see Watchirathan, Mae pah, Siriphum, Mae Klang and Mae Ya waterfalls. The Mae Ya waterfall is a cascading waterfall plunging from several tiers, reaching over 250 meters. It is pretty impressive! Apart from that, we also recommend trekking out to the Mae Pan waterfall which is a 100 meter high waterfalls which is rarely visited by tourists due to its location. There are different trails you can take to reach the falls, with one being a shorter loop taking less than 2 hours. As I mentioned, you can also camp in this area but take note that there are no nearby restaurants where you can buy food.
Visit The Royal Twin Pagodas
More commonly known to the locals as Phra Mahathat Naphamethanidon and Nophamethanidon, these two chedis (pagodas) were built in honor of the King’s 60th birthday. Soon after, an identical structure was built in honor of the Queen, only hers was done in a lilac color. The view from the top, along with the many intricately carved pieces makes this spot an interesting place to visit while you are in Doi Inthanon.
Explore the Brichinda Cave
Last but not least, to top off your nature trip in the National Park, there is also a cave which you can explore. This limestone cave has a huge entrance which leads to a chamber and a tower. The second chamber has a large skylight causing a dramatic effect as the light illuminates the cave. The caves are clearly marked on the park maps and are about an hour’s walk away from the main road.
Overall, we had an awesome time camping there. We were thoroughly impressed by the facilities provided at the park even the tents that were for rent were of good quality! I definitely recommend this experience to anyone looking for something different to do while exploring Chiang Mai.