Hiking Doi Inthanon – A Day Trip from Chiang Mai

We love exploring new cities and Chiang Mai was no exception. We also love escaping the hustle and bustle to get some fresh air and exercise. Thus, Doi Inthanon was the perfect daytrip – ‘doi’ is Thai for mountain and Inthanon is the name of a beloved king in the late 19th century whose ashes are buried beneath the shrine.

Top of Doi Inthanon (2)



Elephants stand guard at the entrance to the shrine.


They also form a little procession along a path leading up to it.


We did some hiking at the top of the mountain (which was, by the way, quite chilly hence the quickly-purchased sweatshirts from the ranger station that Joel and I are wearing. Alex was properly prepared with her puffy jacket.)

Top of Doi Inthanon (13)Top of Doi Inthanon (14)

One of the hiking paths led to a shrine honoring a Thai Air Force pilot who crashed his helicopter in this area many years ago. The engine of the craft is incorporated into the memorial as well as new and old tributes placed by visitors – flowers, incense, toy helicopters and soldier figurines. You can see a photo of the pilot through the front door of the little house.

Top of Doi Inthanon (10) Top of Doi Inthanon (11)

We also took a five kilometer hike along the Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail. Hike with Nut te dah (1)

Our guide for the day, Bird, enlisted the help of a soft-spoken, 15-year-old girl from the nearby Hmong village who knew the trails well. Her name was Nut-tee-dah (phonetic spelling only.) She said we could call her Nut. So Bird and Nut guided us gracefully along our way. Every so often Nut would stop to tell us something in Thai which Bird translated into English for us. She was so knowledgeable and we were duly impressed that she was only 15.

Hike with Nut te dah (2)

Some gorgeous images of the wooded part of the trail.

Top of Doi Inthanon (1) IMG_1194 IMG_1191 IMG_1190

Hike with Nut te dah (21)

Hike with Nut te dah (23) Hike with Nut te dah (24) Hike with Nut te dah (25) Hike with Nut te dah (26)

A few reminders along the way.

IMG_1198 IMG_1213

At one point we turned a corner and opened into a beautiful meadow. The path followed the edge of it – sometimes on a nice dirt path and sometimes a little less traveled. We never saw another person on this hike which was really wonderful (not that we don’t like people, but you know what I mean.) Lots of gorgeous views.


Hike with Nut te dah (3) Hike with Nut te dah (4) Hike with Nut te dah (5) Hike with Nut te dah (6) Hike with Nut te dah (7) Hike with Nut te dah (9) Hike with Nut te dah (10) Hike with Nut te dah (11) Hike with Nut te dah (12) Hike with Nut te dah (13) Hike with Nut te dah (14) IMG_1201 IMG_1202 IMG_1203

There were the most beautiful rhododendron trees.

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One of Alex’s panoramic photos. (Click on it to see it larger.)

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At the base of the mountain trail was a little hut where we enjoyed a simple and satisfying lunch shared with Bird. This is where we learned to eat sticky rice with our fingers, rolling it into little balls and popping into our mouths. This is typical fare in the north of Thailand as it is easy to pack and carry on long days in the fields.

IMG_1215 IMG_1216 Lunch at Doi (1) Lunch at Doi (2) Lunch at Doi (3)

On our way back down the mountain, we stopped at the impressive dual chedis – one called Naphamethinidon meaning “by the strength of the land and air”, and the other called Naphaphonphumisiri  meaning “being the strength of the air and the grace of the land”. These temples were built to honor the 60th birthdays of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit in 1987 and 1992 respectively. They are the current king and queen of Thailand and, according to our small sample size of guides, are very loved and respected.

The king’s chedi with its very cool mosaic around the entire outer facade.

Doi chedis (6)

Doi chedis (2) Doi chedis (3)


Doi chedis (4)

The queen’s chedi with her own mosaic creation as well as breathtaking gardens.


Doi chedis (10)

The king and queen. There are images like this everywhere in Thailand. Everywhere! Parks, sides of buildings, billboards – many of them financed by them and some just honoring. It’s good to be the king!

Doi chedis (7)

The next short stop was a lesson in contrasts from the above – a very simple Karan village, one of the hill tribes in Thailand. They are known for their beautiful weavings, the sales of which goes directly to the artist and her village. The one we purchased is lovely and actually fits our unusually shaped dining room table so will be cherished for years to come.

Karan village (1) Karan village (2)

Last view – one of the gazillion waterfalls amid the cliffs of Doi Inthanon. Joel and Alex got distracted – shiny! – by one of Thailand’s also gazillion stray dogs. This one, unlike every other, wanted to be pet.

Waterfalls near Doi (1) Waterfalls near Doi (2) Waterfalls near Doi (3)

Next blog is the Elephant Nature Park, also outside of Chiang Mai.


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Regina Leffers McCaleb, Ph.D.

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