The trip to Chiang Mai would not be complete without visiting the highest mountain in Thailand which happens to be in this province. This mountain range is actually a part of the Himalayas, with Doi Inthanon (at 2565 meters above sea level) as the highest peak in Thailand. This mountain range which is included in the Doi Inthanon National Park is also known as The Roof of Thailand. It is located around 110 kilometers to the south west of Chiang Mai. Due to the high altitude, the park enjoys cool and humid weather all year long. The name Doi Inthanon is given to honor one of the last kings of Chiang Mai, King Inthawichayanon. This mountain is also said to be a great spot for birdwatching, besides being a habitat for a large variety of fauna and flora.
When I planned for the trip to Doi Inthanon, I expected to be somewhere near the mountain or with the view the mountain peak which is the highest in this country. I didn’t expect to reach the summit itself because I thought it would take days of hiking a rough terrain. I mean that it is exactly what will happen if you are going to reach the summit of most mountains/volcanoes in Indonesia. But I could not be more wrong, as the tour van took us up the mountain and parked in a parking lot literally a few meters from the summit! We just need to follow a short trail into the forest and voila! We reached the summit of Doi Inthanon already. There is a sign as a proof that you have made it to the top, which become an obvious photo spot.There is also a white shrine which contains King Inthawichayanon’s ashes.
There are not a lot of things to enjoy in the summit, but from here, visitors would continue their journey further down to reach more fascinating twin chedis built by the Thai Royal Air Force to commemorate the King and Queen’s 60th birthday. More on that story will be written in my next post. In the meantime, besides some walking trails, this mountain hosts a number of waterfalls. One of the most visited is the Wachirathan Waterfall. Like other waterfalls, the flow of water depends on the season. Waterfalls are said to be most beautiful in the rainy season but most waterfalls in the area are still nice to visit in the dry season. This Wachirathan Waterfall is one of the largest in the area and it is easily accessible by visitors. There are also some walking trails to explore the waterfall up close and visitors can also walk down a bit to the river to experience the pleasant cool water.
The other waterfall I visited was the Sirithan Waterfall. From the parking area, visitors need to walk a 200 meter trail down a staircase through the forest to reach a wooden platform in front of the waterfall. There is also a small trail to go further near the waterfall but it is said to be a bit slippery. Unlike the more crowded Wachirathan waterfall, there were not too many visitors when I was there. There are some other waterfalls in the area in case you are interested in exploring more of them, including Mae Pan and Mae Klang waterfalls. So far the mountain and waterfalls to some extent are quite similar to those in Indonesia, but at least now I can say that I have been to the highest peak in Thailand, Doi Inthanon, the name I learned in geography when I was still a student.