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[NATURE] 3 Days Camping in Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s Highest Mountain

  • Naphamethinidon-Naphaphonphumisiri-near-summit-of-Doi-Inthanon

Getaway Category: Adventure & NatureGetaway Tags: adventure, camping, chiang mai, Doi Inthanon, Northern Thailand, and thailand

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  • This article contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase I will make a commission at no extra cost to you. This article was first published on Nov 2, 2016 and updated in February 2018.

    Although Thailand is more often than not associated with beautiful beaches, if you head up Northern Thailand, you will be pleasantly surprised by the stunning mountains and National Parks which you can explore.

    Doi Inthanon National Park is located near the province of Chiang Mai and is most commonly known as “The Roof of Thailand” as it is Thailand’s highest mountain.

    This lush National Park boasts of stunning views, many waterfalls, and an impressive set of twin Pagodas which were made in honor of the King and the Queen. Relax, unwind, and spend a few days unplugged from technology as you make the most out of the things around you. Get ready for your best experience of hiking, sightseeing and camping in Doi Inthanon, one of the best camping sites in Thailand.




    Day 0 in Thailand

    10:45am: Arrival at Chiang Mai International Airport

    Prior to your arrival in Chiang Mai, use this time to decide if you’re either going to travel to Doi Inthanon by car or motorbike. Both of those can easily be rented as long as you have an International Driver’s License. If you are just planning to head there by motorbike, a driver’s license from your home country along with your passport may suffice.

    You will be arriving in Chiang Mai right in time for lunch so from the airport, you can head straight to We’s Restaurant by the Old Town for your first taste of Thai food. The food here is affordable, delicious, and 100% homecooked. We suggest trying their Penang curry which is one of the best we’ve had!

    1:00pm: Pick up your mode of transport

    If you are just renting a motorbike, there is no need to prearrange this as there are loads of bike rental shops everywhere. We recommend going with Tony’s Big bikes, a Western Run bike shop which has a wide range of bikes to choose from. Every time you rent a bike from them, you also get an accident insurance coverage. For those who want to drive a car instead, you can reserve a car before hand here at Thailand Car Rentals. (RELATED: A road tripping weekend in energetic Phuket).

    1:30pm: Let Your Roadtrip Begin!

    View from the top of Doi Inthanon

    View from the top of Doi Inthanon

    Doi Inthanon National Park is located about 98km away from Chiang Mai. The drive there is quite easy and is pretty straight forward. Expect to your driving time up there to take around 2 hours. If you’re on a motorbike, you can reach the National Park in less time.

    3:30pm: Arrival at Doi Inthanon National Park

    Doi Inthanon signage

    Doi Inthanon signage

    Upon entering the park, you have to pay a park entrance fee. Unfortunately, they have dual pricing here, with foreigners paying a different fee from the locals. Prices for Doi Inthanon National Par for foreign adults are expected to pay 300 THB while children are to pay 150 THB. Even if you are staying for two days, you only need to pay once.

    4:00pm: Park headquarters

    By this time, you can now make your way to the park headquarters where you can rent your camping gear. As soon as you enter, drive towards the building which says accommodation headquarters. Head towards the front desk and just tell them that you want to camp in the area. They will then bring out a pricelist of how much the camping gear costs. A tent good for three people is 250 THB while pillows and sleeping bags cost about 50 THB all together. After renting your gear, the camp staff will show you towards the camp grounds.

    4:30pm: Setting up camp

    Tented camping in Doi Inthanon

    Tented camping in Doi Inthanon

    As soon as you pick a spot, you can begin setting up the campsite. Doi Inthanon campsite itself is beautiful as you find yourself surrounded by tall pine trees. The camping grounds have a large bathroom with hot and cold showers, picnic tables, as well as large ice chests to help keep your drinks cold. Ten minutes away, there is a small shop which sells water, snacks, beer, and other drinks. We suggest stocking up goods here as they surprisingly have a good variety of local goods.

    6:00pm: Dinner

    From the campsite, you can opt to drive out and go to the many restaurants that are in the park. Alternatively, there is a local restaurant about 10 minutes away which has lots of local food. We ate there for dinner and breakfast and each meal costs about 60 THB. Try ordering their Pad Thai, Pad Krapow (either minced chicken or pork with basil), or their Thai Red Curry.

    7:00pm: Enjoy the Camp

    From here onwards, feel free to fully enjoy the campsite and unplug in nature. Camping at Doi Inthanon is a great experience. Last time we went, we had our friend bring his guitar and we stayed up all night singing campfire songs and playing cards. The weather here is slightly cooler due to the altitude so don’t forget to bring a light sweater. Between the sounds of the crickets and the gentle breeze that is lulling you to sleep, enjoy a quiet night surrounded by nature.

    Day 1 at Doi Inthanon, Thailand

    9:00am: Breakfast Time!

    Doi Inthanon sunrise

    Doi Inthanon sunrise

    After a good night’s rest, you can either drive out to the local store or go to any nearby restaurant. We went back to the local store and had coffee and some noodles for breakfast. The local restaurant near the campsite has a surprisingly wide variety of things available in the menu so go with whatever you feel like having.

    10:00am: Explore the Waterfalls

    Small waterfall in Doi Inthanon

    Small waterfall in Doi Inthanon

    After breakfast, we suggest packing up all of your important belongings and storing them either in the car or by your motorbike as you will now be leaving your tent to explore the park. Although there is a guard situated by the entrance of the campsite, it is better to be cautious. From here, you can spend the entire morning driving around the park exploring. The park is full of waterfalls so make sure you have enough time to check them all out. Drive to each point, take short treks, splash your face in the refreshing waters and enjoy the day in the outdoors.

    Waterfalls to Check out:

    Waterfall in Doi Inthanon

    Waterfall in Doi Inthanon

    Mae Ya Waterfall: This cascading waterfalls goes up over 250 meters high. However, the point which you see is only around 40-50 meters. The waterfall is quite stunning due to it’s sheer height and size.

    Mae Pan Waterfall: This waterfall isn’t frequented by many as it is a bit out of the way. If you have a spare time, this place is worth seeing as it is the highest non-cascading falls in the park.

    Mae Klang Waterfall: Located only 600m away from the entrance, this place can get quite packed during the weekends and holidays.

    Sirithan Waterfall: Accessible by a 200m trail from the parking lot. This place is also frequented by many.

    If you want to see a full list of all the waterfalls which you can visit, along with their google maps coordinates, you can check out the National Park website.

    12:30pm: Lunch

    As you drive up the National Park, there are loads of food stalls on the side where you can stop and eat. If you prefer something simple, opt to go to the many vendors selling roasted chicken. The rotisserie chicken is stuffed with lemongrass and other spices making it extremely flavorful. That, paired with some Som Tam (green papaya salad) and rice makes for a hearty meal. Expect to pay around 150 THB for a whole roast chicken.

    1:30pm: Head to the Pagodas

    Twin royal pagodas in Doi Inthanon

    Twin royal pagodas in Doi Inthanon

    Phra Mahathat Napha Methanidon and Phra Mahathat Naphaphon Bhumisiri, are two twin pagodas located near the summit of Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand. These two pagodas were built to commemorate the fifth cycle birthdays of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit. Sitting on two nearby peaks, both pagodas share similar sizes and design but are painted in different colors. The pagodas enshrine Lord Buddha’s relics and beautiful Buddha images. Upon arrival in the parking lot, you can opt to either walk up the stairs or take the newly built escalators in order to reach the top of the pagodas. The view from the top is incredible as it overlooks the whole National Park. This is a very popular spot for day trippers so expect the place to be packed. After walking around and taking pictures, you can now head to the Park Headquarters.

    From the Pagodas, you can drive up the summit. There is a short trail through a small forest which is supposedly marked as the highest peak in Thailand! You can opt to have your photo taken by the sign as proof that you made it to the top.

    One of the Twin royal pagodas in Doi Inthanon

    One of the Twin royal pagodas in Doi Inthanon

    3:00pm: Hill Tribe Village

    Depending on how tired you are, you can either opt to visit some local hill tribe villages like the Hmong Village or the Khun Ya Noi to see their beautiful embroidered clothing. There are also Karen tribe people such as the Ban Mae Ab Nai. As soon as you get to one of those villages, there is usually a guide who can speak English guides are available to tour you around. Here, you can interact with the local tribes and discover more about their way of life.

    5:30pm: Back to the campsite

    From this point onwards, you are free to enjoy the beauty of the campsite. Read a book while listening to the birds as the cicadas buzz about. The camping area in Doi Suthep is very peaceful and is a great place to relax and unplug. You can drive out to nearby restaurants or just go to the local eatery 5 minutes away like the previous night.


    Day 2 in Doi Inthanon, Thailand: Hiking the Nature Trail

    9:00am

    Day view of Doi Inthanon

    Day view of Doi Inthanon

    After a slow morning, begin gathering your belongings and pack up your tent. Make sure to dispose of your trash properly in the designated bins. As mentioned, there are hot and cold showers in the bathrooms which you can use at any time. From here, drive towards the summit where you can hike the Kaew Mae Pan Nature Trail. Again, the park has a lot of signs so missing this is virtually impossible. As soon as you enter, you have to hire a local guide for 200 THB. The guide can be split among a group of people, it is still quite reasonable.

    The Doi Inthanon hiking tour itself is only about 3km through various inclines. I strongly recommend you to take the time to do this as the views from this nature walk were incredible. You go through 21 points through different types of foliage and greenery which are all marked by well written posters. The guide that we had didn’t speak much English but happily showed us the way through the trail. 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. Between the beautiful Cliffside views and the incredible terrain, this trek alone made the trip worth it.

    11:00am

    Mountain view at Doi Inthanon National Park

    Mountain view at Doi Inthanon National Park

    After you finish hiking the trail, begin driving down heading back to Chiang Mai. You can stop in any roadside restaurant on your way down or opt to have a late lunch when you arrive back in Chiang Mai.  Take your time heading back and enjoy the fresh air as you drive down the long and windy roads which are in great condition. People who opted to take a motorbike will enjoy the curves and turns.

    1:00pm: Arrival in Chiang Mai

    After returning your car or bike rental, you can go for a late lunch in the city. For a traditional Thai meal, head on over to Kajana Restaurant to get your fill of Khao Soi, a local Northern Thai delicacy made up of curried noodles. It is delicious! After lunch, you can either buy some local souvenirs in the many stalls across old town or even go for a well deserved Thai massage.

    3:40pm: Head to the Airport




    Where to Stay in Chiang Mai, Thailand

    Here is a list of some great places to stay in Chiang Mai for all budgets:

    HotelType of accomRating on TripadvisorPrice per nightMore Photos & Availability
    ELK/Jing Jing GuesthouseBudget4,5S$7

    Hostel by BEDBudget5S$25

    The Peaberry HotelMid4,5S$60

    BED PhrasinghMid5S$75

    Art Mai Gallery Nimman HotelMid4,5S$110

    Rarin Jinda Wellness SpaHigh4,5S$140

    Akyra Manor Chiang MaiHigh5S$180

    Dhara Dhevi HotelHigh5S$590

    Budget

    ELK in Chiang Mai

    ELK in Chiang Mai

    One of the cheapest hostels in Chiang Mai, the ELK/Jing Jing Guesthouse is conveniently located near the river, the airport and 300m from Chang Phuak Gate. Book here now for a bed in an A/C dorm for $7 SGD per night. While there are other rooms available, we recommend A/C as it can get uncomfortably hot!

    Mid-range

    The Peaberry Chiang Mai

    The Peaberry Chiang Mai

    Located around Chiang Mai’s Moat, temples, the Old City District, Sunday Night Walking Street and Kad San Kaew Shopping Centre, The Peaberry is perfectly located. At a minimum of $60 SGD for two people including breakfast, this small resort is ideal. More photos and availability here.

    Splurge

    Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai

    Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai

    For a luxurious nights stay, head over to the Dhara Dhevi Hotel for a night of pampering and relaxation. Prices start at $590 SGD for two including breakfast and stunning views. Click here for more photos and availability.

    For yet more options of where to stay in Thailand, see Singapore Beyond’s guide: Top 10 Airbnb Villas in Phuket.

    Singapore Airlines and Tiger fly directly to Chiang Mai almost daily and at numerous times, with a flight duration of approximately 3 hours. Prices normally range from $400 to $700 SGD depending on the fare type and time of travel. Departures from Singapore are at 8:50 AM, arriving in Chiang Mai at 10:45 AM. Similarly, they have flights leaving Chiang Mai at 6:00 PM, arriving back in Singapore at 10:05pm. See their flight schedules here

    What to Pack

    All the camping gear can be rented so no need to worry about this. There are also nearby local stores where you can get snacks and drinks. As for personal items, we recommend bringing the following:

    – Trekking/training shoes

    – A jacket and scarf (in case it gets cold)

    – Swimwear (waterfalls)

    – A towel for showering

    – Basic toiletries

    – Insect spray

    – Clothes for 3 days

    – A bed sheet if you want to cover the rented sleeping bag

    – If you get a large water, there are local water refill stations which you can use for a couple of Baht.

    – Flip flops

    If you’re still not sure whether to make the trip, here’s a nice video that may persuade you to go!

    share your experience by using #singaporenbeyond on social media!

    Cover image by: Lestermandersson

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