The highest peak of Thailand is high up in the mountains of Doi Inthanon. The peak is situated 2,565m above sea level and is home to two chedis, for the King and Queen of Thailand. Driving to the peak in the Doi Inthanon mountain is a popular destination for expats living in Chiang Mai. It is often missed by tourists being around 2 hour’s drive from the city. Despite the drive, it was a must-see on our sightseeing list being the highest mountain in Thailand. So we ventured to the mountain at the weekend, driving through some of the most spectacular scenery we’ve seen!
Starting off in the centre of Chiang Mai, you head towards Hang Dong and onto the small Thai village of Sanpatong, where there’s a huge locals market to explore. It’s around an hour until you hit those incredible scenic views but well worth the wait. Paddy fields to your left and farmer’s fields to your right, with amazing mountain views all around, it’s definitely worth the drive just for those views.
Knowing we still had an hour left of our journey and more driving through the national park, we made a very last minute decision to stay the night in the surrounding area of Doi Inthanon. When I say last minute, I mean driving along the highway at 50 kmph, passing a Tesco Lotus and Lee (my boyfriend) suggests stopping to get some overnight necessities.
With the decision made and a steady 2 hours later you arrive at the entrance to the Doi Inthanon national park. Stop off for some lunch near the first of many waterfalls in the park, you’ve already begun to see those much anticipated sights. Pass the national park checkpoint, where its 300bht/ adult to get in for foreigners, and head up the mountainous roads to the Doi Inthanon temple at the very top.
Along the way you’ll spot signs for various waterfalls, I definitely recommend having a stop at Wachirathan waterfall. Driving on the road leading up to the waterfall, you can see it before you even hear it, which usually isn’t the case with waterfalls in Thailand, especially in the rainy season. Anyway, this waterfall was incredible! By far the best waterfall I have ever seen. After taking a while trying to get the perfect photograph, we continued our route to the top of the mountain.
After driving through breath taking scenery, we spot the top of the King’s pagoda peeping out from behind the mountains. Breathing a huge sigh of relief that we’re near the highest peak in Thailand, you turn around and get an incredible view of the province of Chiang Mai below.
Continuing on route, we finally arrive at the summit of the mountain and the two chedi’s built for both the King’s and Queen’s 60th birthday anniversaries. Find the much needed coffee shop closed, and head up the escalators to view each chedi. There are idyllic gardens you can look around too, and on a not so cloudy day, my guess is you could get a spectacular view of the mountains below at the designated view point.
Noticing the time and turning around, we decided to look for somewhere to stay whilst driving through the clouds. There aren’t as many bungalows as we thought there would be, and all the ones we saw were full! We did find a cute little set of huts called Inthanon Eco Huts, but they wanted 800bht for a tiny, and I mean tiny room. Deciding to search outside the park, we headed out. Bear in mind “heading out” means another 40 minute drive through the jungle, with the sky getting darker and darker by the second. We finally found a hotel on booking.com 4km from the entrance to the park, which was just 450bht.
Next day, driving back to Chiang Mai, we spotted a temple we had noticed the day before, Wat Phra That Doi Noi. This temple is situated at the top of a small hill, with steps leading all the way to the top.
Reaching the top, we noticed the temple is under reconstruction, so you get the chance to write your name on one of the roof tiles which is a great little touch for 15bht.
Another amazing view of the mountains all around and its situated overlooking the Ping river. A recommended stop for anyone making the scenic journey to Doi Inthanon from Chiang Mai.