Spectacular Views while Trekking at Doi Inthanon National Park
The surroundings of Chiang Mai have some of the great day trip opportunities of Thailand. One of the most spectacular ones is the highest mountain of Thailand: Doi Inthanon. Doi Inthanon National Park is Northern Thailand’s best national park and it’s well known for it’s great trekking and hiking trails, probably the most famous of which is the Kew Mae Pan trail.
People sometimes seem to think a tour to Doi Inthanon is just a drive up to the top of Doi Inthanon mountain, but there's much more to it. The tour can pick you up at your hotel, but instead we opted to get picked up at PM Guesthouse/PM Tours, to grab a nice breakfast before heading out the day after.
At 7:30 we arrived and Pim had already packed some fresh sandwiches for us. The lady from the Doi Inthanon tour arrived soon after, and we got underway. We first stopped by a couple of hotels to pick up other participants of today's tour and off we went. From Chiang Mai the drive wasn't too long. We made a bathroom stop at a gas station by the highway where we ate our sandwiches and already made our first stop at the amazing Wachirathan waterfall. Even though the weather was already getting cooler around Chiang Mai, the cold spray from the thunderous rapids were so nice and chilly! Enough time to take some good photos and grab a cup of coffee.
Our next stop came after only a short drive and was where our trek of the day began. Some of my fellow participants wore hiking boots and though at times I wished I had those too, my sneakers actually worked out fine. Our hike around the mountain was joined by a local Karen lady that showed us a number of interesting trees and herbs along the way. This tree's bark was used for easing the flu, that tree's bark was used to fish with. We even came across a cinnamon tree, with its amazing-smelling wood! We each got a piece as a souvenir.
We trekked along a path into the dense forest that took us uphill and downhill. Soon we arrived at the Sirithan waterfall, which actually was a series of rapids that we got to enjoy as the path winded along the bank of the stream. The water was too wild to swim in now, but often this is where you can take a swim in the cool river water. You had to watch where you put your feet, but we did not go too fast and there was plenty of time to make the occasional stop to take a moment to look around and appreciate the beautiful forest. On the way we saw wildlife that included a beautiful big yellow spider in a big web and a green viper.
Our trek then took us up the mountain and over a small ridge, at which time we were greeted by an amazing sight of terraced rice fields and strawberry farms below. We slowly descended and took a breather at a strawberry farm, tasting the freshly picked strawberries. Buffalos grazing the field came to investigate, mooing at us a bit, but then with a couple of shouts from our guide were encouraged to go back to grazing. We continued our trek into the coffee plantations and stopped at a Karen village to learn a couple of things about coffee and of course taste it. Pretty good coffee I can tell you! At the village, our van was waiting for us and took us to our next stop; the highest point of Thailand.
Personally, getting to the highest spot in Thailand wasn't why I did the tour, but nevertheless it was an interesting place. That's because it has historical value; the last Lanna King (the Lanna Kingdom became part of the Kingdom of Thailand) asked his family to bury his ashes there. He wanted to be buried there so that for all eternity he could look over his beloved subjects and make sure they were thriving.
The second-to- last stop of our trip was only a five minute drive away. Two huge 'twin' pagodas became visible as we came down the mountain a little. The King and Queen pagodas were built in honor of King Rama IX and his wife, and are a really impressive sight. Tired from the trek a little, my friend and I decided to be lazy and take the escalator up to them! The pagoda's themselves are surrounded by circles of beautifully carved wooden frames depicting the people, the animals and the gods. The pagodas are surrounded by well kept gardens that are pleasant to take a stroll through. On the side of the King pagoda, you can enjoy a great view down the mountain. It was cloudy when we were there, but nevertheless the view was fantastic, with clouds rolling on the mountain side like waves on a beach. When there are no clouds, you can see for hundreds of miles in each direction.
Our van then took us about 500 meters down and stopped at the Hmong market. There we had the opportunity to shop for food, clothes, trinkets and a bunch of other things. I came away with a big bag of macadamia nuts, which they grow, and my friend bought a big bag full of passion fruit that we are still eating!
Every stop we made on the day-tour, our lovely tour-guide Ms. King (short for a Thai name that starts with King that I can't pronounce let alone write!) would tell us some interesting facts about the place we were visiting. Then we could explore the place ourselves and ask her additional questions if we had any. Ms. King did a good job including everyone but without making us follow her around (except for the trek of course!). In short, she did an excellent job.
Pleasantly exhausted from our day trip we arrived back in Chiang Mai around six o’clock. Once again I enjoyed a great tour from PM Tours and will be back for more. I'm saw a two-day trek around Chiang Dao on the website…I think I will ask Pim and Miki about that one! Watch this space for more of my tour experiences in Thailand!