- Nature Reserve / Wildlife Observation / Safari
- Place or Religious Monument
It was curiosity that led me to go and see Doi Inthanon, the national park containing Thailand's highest mountain. I was curious to visit and see these landscapes that make you forget you're in Thailand to some extent (the pleasant sensation of the coolness alone is enough to do that), and also curious to see the views from the summit.
Naturally, the area is something of a playground for hiking enthusiasts, but it isn't only that. Once at the summit there are some chedis of unique design to visit, dedicated to their Majesties the King and Queen. I noticed that the site is visited by large numbers of Thais, who come to experience "the cold".
Though the route up to the summit has various waterfalls scattered along it, e.g. the Vachiratharn Waterfall, as well as tropical forest and unspoiled nature, and offers plunging views over the whole mountain chain, the summit itself is disappointing: a sign next to a weather station and a car park tells you that you've arrived. A short walk through the woods, in which you pass some old houses that have more or less been abandoned, leads to Doi Inthanon's summit. And that's it, I'm at an altitude of 2,565 m, but where are the views??
I spent two days around Doï Inthanon. I spent the first day going up the mountain itself which, as often in Thailand, has a temple at the top. This one is modern and quite original - it has escalators! When I got over my surprise I explored the rest of the surroundings and took a long walk in the park where I found two beautiful waterfalls. Apparently there were more, but I only saw two.
That night I slept in a guesthouse beneath Doï Inthanon. They are stilt houses in the middle of the rice paddies. You can watch the locals going about their everyday lives, which is fascinating.
The next day I spent some time exploring the village, with a stop at the village school to watch the kids working studiously. A fun, spontaneous meeting.