Historically, the mountain of Doi Inthanon was refered to as Doi Ang Kha. Prince Intharawichayonon, the last ruler of Chiang Mai, realized the importance of the country’s forests, especially in the north, where they serve as the watershed for much of the country. He was interested in and helped support people who were investigating the history of the area. He requested that his remains be placed on the summit of Doi Ang Kha. After his death, the mountain was renamed Inthanon, a shorten version of his name. Today, visitors to the summit can see the remains there.
TOPOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
The park is ruggedly mountainous. Doi Inthanon, the highest peak stands at 2,565 meters above sea level. Lesser peaks include Doi Hua Luang 2,330 meters. The park is the headwaters for the Mae Klang, Mae Pako, Mae Pawn, Mae Ya, Mae Cham and Mae Khan Rivers. The water from the park also helps generate electricity at the Bhumipol Dam.
Because of the park’s high altitude, the climate is cool all year round. January is the coldest month with an average temperature of 5.5 degrees Celsius.
In the hot season the temperature remains cool and pleasant, particularly at higher elevations. Rain, fog and mist can abscure the view for days.
FLORA AND FAUNA
The forest of the park is one of the country’s more important, valuable heritages. Forest types include moist evergreen forest, pine forest and Mixed decidousus species with economic value include teak, mountain pine. Dipterocarp species, Xylia xylocarpus, Pterocarpus, Teminalia, and Lagerstroemia to name a few.
In addition to these, there are many beautiful flower including Vanda, phycastylis and rhododendron. For the mosses, there are sphagnum and osmanda, which are found at higher elevations than the flowers. Fifty years ago, the mountain peaks were the home of the among hill tribe people. The biggest village was Ban Koon Klang, their method of agriculture was often destructive to the forest ecosystem. Now there are Royal Projects, which assist the villagers in growing cold-climate fruit such as strawberries, grapes and apples as well as flowers. Special areas have been allocated for these projects. The number of wild animals in the park is decreasing as the villagers continue to encroach. The animals are hunted and their habitat cleared for agriculture. The remaining animals include serow, gibbons, tigers, deer, wild pigs, Siamese hare, jungle fowl and goral.
Because of its broad altitudinal range and the cool climate of its upper reaches, the park supports the largest number of bird species of any site in Thailand. The Center for Wildlife Research at Mahidol University records a present total of 362 species and expects addition many at the summit are migrants from northern Asia.
Species restricted to Doi Inthanon are Ashy-throated Warbler and an endemic race of the green-tailed Sunbird; the park is the only site where the Chestnut-bellied Rockthrush and the Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker are known to over summer and probably breed.
HIGHLIGHT AND TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
Mae Klang Waterfall located on the east of the park, this unusual waterfall has been visited by Thai and foreign for many year to swim, picnic and relax in this beautiful setting. The rapids and waterfall spill over a wide exposure of granite and can be approached closely.
Vachiratharn Waterfall or Yong Waterfall located by km. 72 of Chomthong-Doi Inthanon road. Vachiratharn waters tunnel down a granite escarpment, creating a misty view of great beauty.
Mae Ya Waterfall is thought to be the highest in Thailand and is well worth the extra effort to get there. It is a beautiful, fanning cascade, dropping down an ever-widening series of steps-without doubt, a photographic favourite.
Siriphum Waterfall The former name was Lao Lee waterfall named after head of Hmaeo village nearby. M.R. Chakthong Thongyai, the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperative Ministry renamed “Siriphum” to honour Queen Sirikit It located by km. 31 Chom Thong-Doi Inthanon road.
Brichinda Cave this impressive limestone cave has a gigantic entrance chamber and tower and a second huge chamber with a skylight opening to the surface. It can be reached in about one hour from the main road, or in less time if the beginning portion of the route is cycled.
Park headquarters The headquarters building has a small camping space nearby, and staff will provide assistance, information and a guide for trail walking, as well as meals on request. Future development plans include food services and a picnic area near the entrance of the headquarters approach road. Access of the Hmong village, Ban Khun Klang the guesthouse compound, and Siriphum Waterfall is via a wide laterite road intersecting with the main summit road.
Summit of Doi Inthanon the drive to the summit offers some fine views, especially during November and December, before the dry season haze has become well established. On your visit to the summit stupa containing the remains of King Intharawichayonon, be sure to read the English translation on the back of the marble plaque nearby. Photographing any part of the radar station is forbidden, but visitors may take pictures freely of any other subject.Napamaytanidol Chedi and Phra Mahatad Napaphon Bhumisiri (km. 41.8) Continuing north on the main summit road, turn left at km. 41.8 over a bridge on a paved road which leads to a magnificent chedi to honour the 60th birthday of KingBhumipol and Queen Sirikit.
Gew Mae Pan Trail one of the most beautiful and rewarding walks in the park is a new trail, which begins a short distance up the main summit road from Napamaytanidol. The path leads for a kilometer or more through dense, moist evergreen forest, then emerges and follows the top of a steep slope bordering the canyoned headwaters of the Mae Pan river. Dotted with red rhododendron, the trail proceeds southward for another kilometer with fine, open views to the west, then re-enters the forest and eventually terminates at Napamaytanidol Chedi. Two hours would allow a leisurely walk with camera stops.