Our best day in Thailand.

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

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Our driver Deer and his car, which runs on natural gas.
Doi Inthanon National Park, 90 km southwest of Chiang Mai, is home to numerous waterfalls, hiking trails, and the highest point in Thailand. Our plan for the day was to see the highlights and do some hiking.

Our driver, Deer (same guy as two days ago), came for us at 10am. But Steve had a surprise work issue to take care of, and couldn’t leave! He didn’t know how long it would take, so I decided to do a mini trip in the meantime. I hoped that he would be able to go later, and didn't want to go too far.

So off we went to Wiang Kum Kam, the site of the “original” Chiang Mai (the city was moved in about 1297 due to flooding in the original city.
Me and my small but trusty bike.
  The ancient remains, which are scattered throughout a fairly large area, were discovered in 1984.)  

I had the option of seeing the area by horse carriage (200 baht) or by bike (20 baht!). I choose the latter (exercise!) and set off by myself in the hot sun. The bike would have been the perfect size for me, back when I was 8 years old.  

I was on a regular road (with some traffic, and lots of dogs…one of whom chased me!), there were few road markings, and my map was not too good. I just could not correlate my position on the map to where I was, so for the first 20 to 30  minutes I was very worried about getting lost (highly precedented). Then I “discovered” Ku Khao, a crumbling brick temple -- I had somehow traveled from the extreme southwest of my map to the extreme northeast!
 
From there I figured it out, and rode on the narrow roads from site to site.
My favorite: Wat Pupia.
One temple, Chedi Liem, has been restored and is quite spectacular. The others are mainly scenic brick ruins. It was a bright sunny day, very hot, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I highly recommend this visit! Bring a picnic lunch and give yourself about 2 hours.

Just as I was wondering how to make my way back to the bicycle rental I got a text message -- Steve was ready to go! So he called Deer to pick him up while I tried to find my way back. Somehow I made it, and spent the 10-minute wait viewing the free museum. (It wasn’t that great.)

The drive to the park seemed like it would be through a continuous suburban sprawl, but then we broke free of all that, and started driving steadily up, through forested land. It reminded me of Canada! And the pine smell brought me right back home to Minnesota.
Wachirathan Waterfall in Doi Inthanon National Park.
Beautiful.

Our first stop was at the path above Wachirathan Waterfall. The temperature had definitely cooled, and we brought our rain jackets “just in case.” I almost immediately fell on a mossy step, banging my camera and my elbow (both are fine now). About 2 minutes later, another slip and near fall! Everything was damp and extremely slippery, and the scenery was so nice it was hard to look down for too long. It was a gorgeous hike along a rapid flowing river that ended at a spectacular waterfall. Along the way, we passed no one, nor were there any souvenir stands to be found. It was just perfect. 

We had lunch at a café in the parking lot on Deer’s recommendation. The place didn’t look like much, but it was, of course, completely delicious. Every dish was under $1 (25 baht actually).
Made it to the summit! (by car :^) Doi Inthanon National Park.


We made several stops in the park -- three waterfalls, a couple temples, and some really beautiful (but short) nature trails. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for the longer, guided, nature hike (about 2 hours). The park is big destination for bird watchers… they have 362 species of bird and I somehow managed to see (or notice) only one of them. I tried to get a shot (for JZ :^) but I had the wrong camera and the little guy would just NOT sit still!

There was a nice sign at the “highest point in Thailand” and we tried to do a self-portrait in front of it. It wasn’t working, but a monk offered to take the photo for us...cool.  What I really wanted a photo of him taking our picture! We bought t-shirts there at the highest point (So OK, they had one or two souvenir shops -- but they were hidden and very low key), and I had a really good latte and a coffee stand hidden in the woods.
Ang Ka Nature Trail in Doi Inthanon National Park.


On the drive home, we had a nice conversation with Deer, and learned a lot about Thai customs in just about every aspect (schooling, weddings, funerals, you name it). He and Steve also talked at length about whiskey, and I may have dozed off.

We ended the day completely exhausted from all that fresh air and exercise. What a great day! This was our last full day in Thailand, and we really couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend it.  
 
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Our driver Deer and his car, which…
Our driver Deer and his car, whic…
Me and my small but trusty bike.
Me and my small but trusty bike.
My favorite: Wat Pupia.
My favorite: Wat Pupia.
Wachirathan Waterfall in Doi Intha…
Wachirathan Waterfall in Doi Inth…
Made it to the summit! (by car :^)…
Made it to the summit! (by car :^…
Ang Ka Nature Trail in Doi Inthano…
Ang Ka Nature Trail in Doi Inthan…
Wat Chedi Liem.
Wat Chedi Liem.
Hi! Wat Chedi Liem.
Hi! Wat Chedi Liem.
Gong at Wat Chedi Liem.
Gong at Wat Chedi Liem.
Wat Chedi Liem. It looks miniature…
Wat Chedi Liem. It looks miniatur…
ummmm...
ummmm...
A well balanced dog.
A well balanced dog.
Wat Ku Khao.
Wat Ku Khao.
My route. I had no idea where I wa…
My route. I had no idea where I w…
Wat Changkam.
Wat Changkam.
Wat E Kang. Nice one!
Wat E Kang. Nice one!
Self portrait at Wat Pupia.
Self portrait at Wat Pupia.
Oops.
Oops.
The path to Wachirathan Waterfall.…
The path to Wachirathan Waterfall…
No swimming. Yah, no kidding! 
(T…
No swimming. Yah, no kidding! (…
Steve on the path to Wachirathan W…
Steve on the path to Wachirathan …
Wachirathan Waterfall in Doi Intha…
Wachirathan Waterfall in Doi Inth…
Wachirathan Waterfall in Doi Intha…
Wachirathan Waterfall in Doi Inth…
Self portrait in the waterfall mis…
Self portrait in the waterfall mi…
Steve at Wachirathan Waterfall in …
Steve at Wachirathan Waterfall in…
Steve had sausage wrapped in bambo…
Steve had sausage wrapped in bamb…
Garden grounds at the Stupa in Doi…
Garden grounds at the Stupa in Do…
Garden grounds at the Stupa in Doi…
Garden grounds at the Stupa in Do…
Stupa under contruction in Doi Int…
Stupa under contruction in Doi In…
Stupa signage in Doi Inthanon Nati…
Stupa signage in Doi Inthanon Nat…
Garden grounds at the Stupa in Doi…
Garden grounds at the Stupa in Do…
Trumpet flowers in Doi Inthanon Na…
Trumpet flowers in Doi Inthanon N…
Steve at Sirithan Waterfall in Doi…
Steve at Sirithan Waterfall in Do…
This photo could have been taken i…
This photo could have been taken …
Hmong shop in Doi Inthanon Nationa…
Hmong shop in Doi Inthanon Nation…
Hmong boy in Doi Inthanon National…
Hmong boy in Doi Inthanon Nationa…
Hmong village in Doi Inthanon Nati…
Hmong village in Doi Inthanon Nat…
Hmong shops in Doi Inthanon Nation…
Hmong shops in Doi Inthanon Natio…
Temple (didnt catch the name) in …
Temple (didn't catch the name) in…
Sparkling temple (didnt catch the…
Sparkling temple (didn't catch th…
Monk with a weed wacker.
Monk with a weed wacker.
Mae Klang Waterfall in Doi Inthano…
Mae Klang Waterfall in Doi Inthan…
The road to Mae Klang Waterfall in…
The road to Mae Klang Waterfall i…
At the base of Mae Klang Waterfall…
At the base of Mae Klang Waterfal…
At the base of Mae Klang Waterfall…
At the base of Mae Klang Waterfal…
Look! Its a (picture of) a Green-…
Look! It's a (picture of) a Green…
Nature Trail in Doi Inthanon Natio…
Nature Trail in Doi Inthanon Nati…
Ang Ka Nature Trail in Doi Inthano…
Ang Ka Nature Trail in Doi Inthan…
Ang Ka Nature Trail in Doi Inthano…
Ang Ka Nature Trail in Doi Inthan…
Ang Ka Nature Trail in Doi Inthano…
Ang Ka Nature Trail in Doi Inthan…
Ang Ka Nature Trail in Doi Inthano…
Ang Ka Nature Trail in Doi Inthan…
Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes