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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Chiangmai - Doi Inthanon Tour

Day 10 - Tour of Doi Inthanon National Park, Chiangmai 
Location – Mae Jaem. Joined a day tour to Doi Inthanon for 900 THB per person. Tour van will  pick and drop you at the hotel at 8.00 am and after the tour by 4.00 pm.  Had early breakfast provided by hotel from 7.30 to 10 am.
The national park which contains Doi Inthanon and bears its name covers 482 square km [186 square miles] and contains several districts like Sanpatong, Chomthong, Mae Chaem, Mae Wang and the Toi Lor Sub district of Chiang Mai Province.
Doi Inthanon is a popular destination not only for its natural beauty but also for its historical significance.
The drive to Doi Inthanon National Park was lovely.

Apart from visiting the highest point of Thailand, the tour includes visits to Wachirathan and Sirithan Waterfalls, Twin Pagodas, Royal Market, Karen Tribal Village and provides lunch too.
As you pass the check point to enter the park, the tour operator will go about sorting out the National Park entry tickets and then you are on your way to our first stop – Wachirathan Waterfall.
1.  Wachirathan Waterfall [allowed 30 minutes]. When we reached the car park at the waterfall, you are free to go and explore on our own.  It's a short walk up a path fro the car park to view the waterfall.
The Wachirathan Waterfall is the second major waterfall on the way up Doi Inthanon national park . This one is an impressive and powerful waterfall falling some 60 metres to 80 metres. The falls also is wide and view is spectacular.
There are plenty of walkways to experience the waterfall. However, the walkways tends to be slippery from the spray so caution is advised.
2. Highest Peak Doi Inthanon [Roof of Thailand] - the next stop on the tour was the highest point in Thailand - Doi Inthanon which is about 30 minutes drive from the Wachirathan Waterfall.  On the way up you can imagine the cool breeze blowing at you if you wind down the window but this is not allowed.
Doi Inthanon - The highest peak in Thailand, rises to a height of 2565 meters [8415 feet] above sea level. This altitude means that temperatures on Doi Inthanon are refreshingly brisk year round and regularly dip below freezing during the cool season [October to February]. 
Doi Inthanon Peak has a cool climate all year round. It is also the site where King Inthawichayanon’s stupa is located. He was the last king of Chiang Mai. Inthawichayanon, the last king of Chiang Mai, was concerned about the importance of forests and wanted to preserve the forests for future generations. He was so familiar with Doi Inthanon that he asked that part of his ashes be kept here. 
King Inthanon’s Tomb - The lowest temperature recorded on the day we visited at 6.00 am was 7 degrees C. Cool and fresh air at the peak that is 8595 feet above sea level.  There is nothing much to see except the King Inthanon Grave here.
3.  Twin Pagodas [1 hour]. Doi Inthanon Scenic View Area at this place.  Next stop after the highest peak on our tour was a visit to the twin royal pagodas of Phra Mahathat Naphamethanidon.
King's Pagoda
Queen's Pagoda
Located not far from the top of Doi Inthanon, the two pagodas were built to commemorate the King and Queen’s 60th birthdays. As the weather was good, we could walk around most of the places but the time given was too short for us to explore with the crowdsNice place with lots of flowers blooming in the area. There are escalators to get to the Pagodas and not tiring to climb up to the foot of the Pagodas.
Each pagoda has a large stair case leading up to it, along with an escalator for those who have trouble climbing stairs, so this is a place that can really be visited by anyone.
We started by visiting the larger King’s Pagoda and climbed up the huge stair case to the top. Inside the pagoda is a Buddha statue and it’s walls and ceilings are beautifully decorated with artwork. The panels on the walls depict important events in Buddhism. The exterior of the pagoda is also decorated with panels of beautiful Buddhist artwork, and we wandered right around the building to view them and since it was drizzling, it is not easy to take photos.
As the surrounding gardens were vast and scenic, I ended up video taping the area.  Both the Queen’s and King's Pagodas 'twin pagodas' no doubt varied in sizes are equally beautiful.

Love the beautiful gardens that surround the pagodas. A very peaceful place.The architecture and artwork of Phra Mahathat Naphamethanidon is truly breathtaking. These pagodas are certainly worthy of the King and Queen of  Thailand.
3. Lunch at Doi Inthanon National Park [1 hour]. Lunch provided here is good with local Thai dishes and rice. Dishes like creamy chicken tomyam, stir fry chicken with cashew nuts, stir fry broccoli and cauliflowers, fried fish etc. After lunch, the next stop was the Royal Market.
4.  Royal Market Place [20 minutes]. There are numerous stalls selling dried pickled fruits [strawberries, mangoes, kiwi, plums, longans etc], fresh organic vegetables, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower etc and fresh fruits like persimmons, mangoes and strawberries etc and tea leaves are also on sale here. Was told that the prices are cheaper than in the city and all are organic products.
5.  Sirithan Waterfall [30 minutes] – After a hefty, good lunch with full of energy, we visited this waterfall around 2.30 pm on the way downhill. 
Sirithan Waterfall is one of the many waterfalls in the Doi Inthanon National Park. The fall is about 40 meters high and origins from the Mae Klang River. The waterfall was named by the Queen who came to visit the fall.
There is a 100 m trail leading through the jungle from the main road to the waterfall. You can come up close and get a good view from a wooden platform in front of the waterfall.
Getting down is not that tiring but climbing up the steps is quite tiring and taxing to many who are not used to climbing.
5.  Karen Tribal Village [30 minutes] – visited this village after Sirithan Waterfall. Here you get to see the tribal settlement, some rice fields and a place to see cloth weaving. You can have a cup of organic coffee brewed from charcoal boiled water.  Place is very small and you can't see any Karen young ladies. 
Good trip and advisable to visit this place by package tour. For the rate charged and tour itinerary, it is reasonable.
Back to hotel around 5.00 pm. 

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