This is Thailand's highest mountain, near the border of Myanmar (Burma) in the north of the country. Not exactly a "climber's peak" since a paved road runs all the way to the top, but worthy of mention due to the geographic extreme for the country, and the unique flora in the area. Near the summit, nature trails featuring a forest boardwalk, highlight an unusual mid-temperate climate zone similar to Washington State, USA. Moss-laden evergreen trees, flowers, and ferns which are not found elsewhere in SE Asia abound. Moreover, it offers the only place in Thailand to escape the heat and humidity. Most crowded around official holidays.
Culturally, the mountain is noteworthy as home to over 4,000 Hmong, one of Thailand's northern hilltribes. A heavy opium-producing region as recently as the 1970's, the king of Thailand was instrumental in educating the population to cultivate alternate cash-income crops of tea, flowers, and apples. A popular activity for foreigners visitng the area is day-trekking among the mountain villages, spending nights as guests among the Hmong settlements and taking part in daily life which has changed little in centuries.
Daily flights are available from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Thailand's largest northern city of 1.5 million population. In Chiang Mai, take a bus from the city's ancient southern gate to the town of Cham Thom (2 hours/57 kilometers), then a songthaew (pick-up with bench seating in the bed), to the summit (another 1.5 hours/38 kilometers). You'll have to bargain to get a good rate for the songthaew portion of the trip. Locals call the mountain "Doi-In". Total transportation cost, about $7US one way from Chiang Mai.
National Park admission fee payable at park entrance 8 kilometers from Cham Thom. Thai nationals $0.50US, Foreigners $5US; typical of two-tiered admission fees throughout SE Asia. If you work in Thailand, show your work permit to bag the Thai rate.
When To Climb
Road open all year, and possibly some surface frost near the summit between November and January.
Camping allowed part way up the mountain at Wachiratan Waterfall.
Nothing available with up-to-date conditions, but weather is predictably clear and cool (15-20 Celcius) in winter months (Nov-Jan), varying up to 23-25 Celcius in summer months (March-May) during which fog and cloud covers are more common. A Chiang Mai City travel web-site has a good write-up with more pictures at http://www.1stopchiangmai.com/what_to_see/trekking/doi_inthanon/
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