Doi Inthanon National Park in my opinion is the best day trip you can do from Chiang Mai.
It offers waterfalls, hiking, temples, the highest point in Thailand where thankfully things get cold!
Yeah I didn’t think I would use those two words in the same sentence.
I’ll go through what we got up to for the day and at the end of the post the practicalities of doing a day trip yourself.
Doi Inthanon National Park Day Trip From Chiang Mai
Mae Ya Waterfall
Mae Ya Waterfall should be your first stop on any trip to Doi Inthanon National Park.
In my opinion it’s one of the best waterfalls near Chiang Mai.
Actually fuck it, it’s the best!
It’s a short several minute hike to the waterfall from the car park.
Hiking to the waterfall.
It’s a several tiered waterfall and is not only beautiful to look at but as the waters are not so fast it’s easy to bathe under.
Sidra (my wife) giving a lovely pose by Mae Ya Waterfall.
Spend at least an hour at this waterfall. We spent three! It’s such a chilled out place it’s hard to leave. (Tip: go early for less people).
Romance under the falls 🙂
Mae Ya is not at the main entrance to the park so it’s a 20 minute or so detour from the main route.
Here’s drone footage we took of Mae Ya Waterfall:
Doi Inthanon Royal Temple Pagodas (Temples) and Garden
Next up head up the mountain on a winding road.
Soon pine trees will appear, things will turn into an alpine climate and, yes, things will get cold.
As far as Doi Inthanon weather goes you will start out hot down at the waterfalls and can easily end up freezing at the top.
Getting colder on the way up having to put rain jackets on.
The first stop on the way up Doi Inthanon is the Royal Temple Pagodas and gardens.
Now on a sunny day they have a great view from the mountain, but we arrived on a wet and cold day.
As you can see in the photo below there was almost no visibility!
Top tip: take something like a rain jacket or light pullover to wear as it can get cold high up!
The pagodas were built for the birthdays of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit back in the day.
Inside the pagodas are very important relics.
Even though the weather sucked for the views it was actually perfect for us!
Living in Thailand you get used to the heat but we seriously miss colder weather.
So having a walk around in the cool climate amongst moss covered trees amongst a peaceful and serene garden was paradise.
We couldn’t believe we could feel this cold in Thailand!
Take a rain jacket for visiting Doi Inthanon National Park for rain and some warmth, or a light pullover.
After the pagoda and garden area we got back in our taxi and continued further up to the highest point in Thailand.
The Highest Spot in Thailand
At 2565 metres above sea level Doi Inthanon’s peak is the highest point in Thailand.
From the car park at the top you walk just a few minutes to the sign and the highest spot.
Past the highest point sign is a beautiful mossy forest trail to walk around which passes by a very serene buddhist stupa amongst the tress.
It’s only a short trail to walk (10 minutes max) but is easily the most beautiful forest we have seen in Thailand.
Sidra lays flowers at stupa.
It was so good to feel the cool drizzling rain come in soaking all the forest.
Apart from Mae ya waterfall this turned out to be our favourite part of the day trip.
Hiking Doi Inthanon mossy forest.
It was 12 degrees at the top when we were there (mid-July).
Other Waterfalls on The Way Back
After visiting the top of Doi Inthanon we were running out of sunlight so started back down.
There were two other waterfalls we stopped at on the way as they were near the road.
The first was Sirithan Waterfall and although impressive it’s only possible to see it from a distance from a viewing platform.
So it was a bit of a let down because of not being able to get closer, but still beautiful to look at.
The next one just down the road is Wachirathan Waterfall which is also a beautiful waterfall and easier to get closer to.
However it’s way more powerful than Mae Ya so enjoy it from a reasonable distance anyway to be safe.
After spending around 30 minutes at these waterfalls time was running out and we left back to Chiang Mai.
A perfect day of waterfall chilling and mossy forest chilling!
Our short video of being in the cloud forest and some waterfalls:
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Visiting Doi Inthanon
If you plan on doing a day trip to Doi Inthanon from Chiang Mai there are three good ways to go about it.
- Rent a scooter for the day and do it that way. It costs around 200 baht for a days rental.
- Hire a private taxi to take you.
- Go on a tour.
We chose to rent our own taxi for the day (one of those red open ones you see driving around Chiang Mai).
As we were also visiting Mae Ya waterfall we payed a little extra to go there as it was more out of the way.
We payed 1800 baht for the full day from 8 in the morning and arriving back in Chiang Mai at 7 at night.
Many hotels offer day tours so you should be able to do it that way no problem. They will put you with other people in a shared taxi/car and should cost roughly around 1000 baht per person.
It also costs 300 baht for an adult and 200 baht for a child for the Doi Inthanon National Park entrance fee.
This is the site for Doi Inthanon to get more information for your trip if needed.
Backpacking in Thailand really is the best way to see the country and is what we recommend for you.
If you may be heading to Peninsula Malaysia at any point a post I did about our trip to the Cameron Highlands there, where you can also find mossy forests to hike.
Jonny & Sidra
Top tip: The best guidebook we use for travelling in Thailand is Lonely Planet Thailand (and we recommend you take as well).
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