Ride or die, Chiang Mai

The Peak of Doi Inthanon

Detailed Overview

Soaring 2,565m above sea level is Doi Inthanon – Thailand’s highest peak that’s surrounded by a 1000-sq-km national park dotted with dozens of hiking trails and waterfalls. It is THE iconic picture of Chiang Mai that you see in all the travel and destination brochures.

The easiest way to Doi Inthanon is by renting one of the ‘red trucks’ from downtown Chiang Mai which will take approximately 3 hours for the one way journey. The ride is rickety and not the best, but it gets you there.

For those more adventurous, grab a motorbike/scooter and hit the road for an awesome 1-day road trip! The drive on the main highway isn’t the greatest, but it’s nice once you get into the national park.

We wanted to catch the sunset so we left Chiang Mai around 12:30pm. Once your past Chaing Mai, the traffic really dies down, and you’ll be cruising on straight open roads for the first half of the drive. There are lots of small towns and waterfalls along the way so take your time stopping in and seeing it all. Our favorite was Mae Klang waterfall where we stopped, ate a snack, did some handstands and took some photos. Continue up the road and you’ll get to the first gate where you’ll buy your park entrance tickets. It’s 300 Baht, plus 20 for a bike for the day and you’ll be required to show this up the mountain so make sure you get one. There are more waterfalls along the route from the 1st to the 2nd checkpoint.

Absolutely stay for sunset at Doi Inthanon. Being cold and dark was secondary to the peaceful sunset after the journey up. For the best spot to watch the sun go down, head to temple on the left side and go up one or the two flights of stairs. Go right past the escalator into the garden and make your way left. You’ll find yourself on a green patch of grass overlooking endless mountains.

Remember you’re up in the mountains and it will get cold, so make sure you bring extra layers – a jacket for sure… even a beanie and gloves.

What I liked Most

Seeing this sunset with no one else but us. No buses, no tourists. Just the rolling hills and quiet

How did you get there?

From Chiang Mai, we hopped on scooters and started the 3-hour journey. We head South on 121 to 3035, took a right on 108, and took another right to 1009. This windy road will take you all the way to the highest point in Thailand. Here is the Google Maps route.

Pro Tips

  • Leave a little earlier and stop in at all the waterfalls along the way if you have time. They are included in the price of the ticket to Doi Inthanon park.
  • Sunset in November was at 5:47pm. Check the time and don't miss it! You'll be riding back home at night so bring multiple layers, and gloves if you have them. It's really cold up in the mountains.
  • Bring earbuds and load some music for offline. There's nothing better than mountain roads on a scooter than mountain roads on a scooter with your favorite music.

Cost Details

You can rent scooters easily in Chiang Mai for around $7/day.

Doi Inthanon Ban Luang Chiang Mai Thailand, Thailand

Vibe
All The Feels
Price
FREE
Length
Half Day

Booking Info

Not needed for this side trip

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Mae Sa Waterfall

Detailed Overview

Really cool place to chill-out and have a picnic. Mae Sa is the the largest series of waterfalls in the Chiang Mai area and has more than 10 levels of cascading waterfalls that you can walk up to. The path through to forest is clearly marked and each level has lots of tables that you can chill out at with a group of friends.

We were told the park gets crowded on weekend and decided to go on a weekday. It’s only 20km for Chiang Mai so we rented scooters and drove for about 30 minutes along highway 1096. Its a known spot and you’ll find it on any mapping application on your phone.

There are 10 levels to the waterall so for those more adventurous, definitely bring some good shoes and hike up to the top. We really enjoyed hanging out at level 5 or 6 (cant remember exactly which one) where we climbed over some rocks and sat with the waterfall peeling off to either side. Great spot to take photos.

Chiang Mai is best explored on a scooter, so make sure to checkout the other scooter trips that you can combine this with for a great day of exploring

What I liked Most

Relaxed setting to take pictures and have a picnic

How did you get there?

Rented a scooter and drove from Chiang Mai - took about 40 minutes with some traffic

Pro Tips

  • Go past the main carpark and keep driving up the hill to the right. there is a higher carpark thats very close to the waterfalls and saves you a bunch of walking
  • Path can get slippery in the wet so bring some shoes if you're planning on hiking up the levels of the falls

Cost Details

100 baht ($3.50 USD) per person to enter - tourist price

Chiang Mai Thailand, Thailand

Vibe
Chill
Price
FREE
Length
A Few Hours

Booking Info

Not needed for this side trip

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Sunset from the Mountains

Detailed Overview

The first day in this mountainous city and we didn’t waste any time getting bikes and going exploring! There’s nothing like feeling the wind rushing past you as you ride through open roads, mountain switchbacks and forest trails.

Chiang Mai is surrounded by lots of mountains to explore and we decide to try the closest one first to catch an incredible sunset over the city. Bike rentals are aplenty in this city so just walk around, bargain and find the one you like. We got ours from Bikky Srithana shop for 250 Baht per day.

We started by heading NorthWest from the main city square along Huaykaew Road and up the mountain pass. The roads are clearly marked, well maintained and a pleasure to drive. You’ll want atleast 125 – 150 CC to get yourself comfortable up the mountain. There are lots of amazing spots to stop along the way so make sure you scrape of time to do all the things you’re interested in.

But the place we found for the most incredible views was “Doi Pui View Point” which is not marked along the route, but just a bit further up the mountain from Wat Sakithaka on the left side (you’ll see a big dirt patch and the trees open up.. and its on a bend.. you wont miss it). The views are STUNNING as you can see in the photos we captured, and gets better as the sun gets closer to the horizon.

Keep in mind you are pretty high up so it gets chilly up here especially closer to sunset (and on the ride down!), so make sure you bring a light jacket or warm clothes. Come early, bring a blanket for a picnic and chill! plenty of space to hang.

It will take you a good 45mins – 1 hour to get there. There are lots of things to do along the mountain path so get an early start and explore it all. Some include:
1) Chiang Mai Zoo – close to the bottom
2) Wat Sakithaka Temple – small and secluded
3) Doi Suthep – climb the dragon stairs to this temple
4) Bhuping Royal Palace

What I liked Most

The layers of all the mountains come to life when the sun starts going down

How did you get there?

Scooter - rented from town for 250 Baht per day

Pro Tips

  • There are no street lights for most of the mountain, but its a popular road so just trail one of the cars and it will be much better to see
  • It gets cold up in the mountain! Make sure you pack a light jacket, pants and shoes, especially if you are going for sunset and driving back in the dark

Cost Details

free to access the viewpoints, but entry fees for the temples along the way

Chiang Mai Thailand, Thailand

Vibe
All The Feels
Price
FREE
Length
A Few Hours

Booking Info

Not needed for this side trip

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Completed by 5 members

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Saved by 3 members

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Comments

  • Colton Soref

    Hands down one of the top 5 days of my life. Absolutely incredible.