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Doi Suthep-Pui National Park, Chiang Mai

Photo credit: Golfz82
Doi Suthep-Pui National Park, Chiang Mai
  • (worth a trip)
  • NA
  • Moderate
  • Average
  • full day
  • 3 3

Locals believe and say that your trip to Chiang Mai isn’t complete if you haven’t visited the twin peaks of Doi Suthep and Doi Pui

Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Foreigner (adult) – 200 Baht
Foreigner (child) – 100 Baht
Please note, there is an additional fee of 30 Baht for visiting the temple . Also, there may be an additional fee for a few attractions and facilities such as camping, renting a bike, or taking the tram. Read the ‘Activities and Attractions” section for more details.

About the place:

Locals believe and say that your trip to Chiang Mai isn’t complete if you haven’t visited the twin peaks of Doi Suthep and Doi Pui. Formerly known as Doi Aoy Chang, Doi Suthep was renamed after a hermit named Prarusiwasuthep, who once lived on the slopes of the mountain. The idea to convert this mountain vicinity (along with 13 other) into a national park was proposed by the Royal Forest Department in 1973, and finally it was established as Thailand’s 24th National Park in 1981.

 

The national park area is stretched over approximately 265 square kilometers, and includes many fascinating attractions such as the famous Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and Bhubing Palace.

 

Doi Suthep-Pui National Park is located within the Chiang Mai province. Only a few kilometers northwest of the main city. Doi Suthep is a part of Thanon Thong Chai Range which is visible in its distinctive granite bedrock. The other two mountain peaks in the range are Doi Pui and Doi Buak Ha, the former being the highest at 1685 meters.

 

The national park provides perfect opportunity for hikers and campers with some beautiful trails and a campsite with a spectacular view. The campsite is located very close to the peak is and is a good place to stay at if you like sunrises and sunsets. Although quite strenuous, some visitors also cycle up and down the mountain.

 

Weather:

You can visit the park any time of the year. It may get a little tricky during the monsoon and the campsite is closed from May to September, but it doesn’t stop tourists from visiting. Although, carry your raincoats and take care of what you wear as per the season.

 

Important attractions:

Apart from being a major attraction in itself, the Doi Suthep-Doi Pui National Park houses many other places of tourist interests. Following are some of the most famous attractions of the national park:

  • Wat Phra That Doi Suthep – Usually known as Doi Suthep Temple, this majestic Buddhist temple is located near the peak of Doi Suthep mountain and comprises many holy shrines, pagodas, effigies and murals. Situated at approximately 1055 metres above sea level, the first chedi is believed to have been founded in 14th century and is still operational as a monastery. The model of Emerald Buddha and a statue of the Hindu Elephant god Ganesha depicts the combination of Buddhism and Hinduism influence around the temple. To reach the temple, you can either chose to climb the 309 steps or take a tram for 30 Baht. Like any other Buddhist temple in the country, you need to be appropriately dressed to enter the temple. Shorts aren’t allowed and your shoulders must be covered. You also need to take off your shoes before entering the temple. The temple is open from 07:00 AM to 05:00 PM but timings may change.
  • Bhubing Palace – Bhubing Palace serves as the winter residency for the royal family during their visits to Northern Thailand. The palace was built in 1961 and is officially known as Phra Tamnak Phu Phing. The palace is open to public except for when the royal family is holding residence. It is located around 4 km west of Doi Suthep temple. The palace offers a good view over the Chiang Mai city and is ideal for birdwatching and butterfly watching. It is open from 08:30 AM to 04:15 PM.
  • Waterfalls – There are a number of waterfalls in the vicinity of the national park. The most popular are Huay Kaew and Mon Tha Than. Although they aren’t as spectacular and jaw dropping as the ones in Doi Inthanon, the waterfalls at Doi Suthep make for a good break on your way up to the peak. Huay Kaew is smaller compared to the rest and is also famous with the locals. It has some great walking trails around and a lot of butterflies around. The entrance is free and it is suggested that you get there a little early if you want to enjoy the surroundings in solitary. On the other hand, there is a 100 baht entry fee (50 baht for children, 30, 20, and 10 Baht for car, motorbike, and cycle, respectively) to Mon Tha Than Waterfall. You can camp overnight here (150-180 baht if you want to rent a tent , and 30 baht per person if you have your own tent) or you can stay at one of the bungalows around the area (around 1500 baht). The waterfall may not be as fascinating as Huay Kaew, though it has nine tiers but what’s interesting is that you can climb or walk up the waterfall quiet easily. However, you have to BE VERY CAREFUL as you may have to climb some really smooth rocks at quite sharp angles. The trick is to avoid the flow of water when climbing up.
  • Flora and Fauna – The park mainly consists of evergreen forests on higher altitudes above 1000 meters and deciduous forest on lower parts with some mixed deciduous-evergreen forest occurring in gullies and along streams. Common trees to be spotted around the park includes oaks, dipterocarps, and trees of the magnolia family. There are approximately 2000 types of ferns and flowering plants, nearly 300 species of birds and number of mammal species. Some of mammal species are Asian Black Bear, wild boar, Asian golden cat, and Malayan porcupine. Common birds found in the national park are grey-headed canary-flycatcher, white-crested laughing thrush, great barbet, and grey-capped pygmy woodpecker.


Opening hours

8:00 - 18:00

How to get there

If you are not already in Chiang Mai, the first thing you need to do is to make your way into Chiang Mai. You can either choose to fly from wherever you are into Chiang Mai International Airport (there are daily flight connecting Chiang Mai to other popular cities in the country such as Bangkok, Phuket, and Krabi), take a bus, travel via train, or choose any other option that may seem interesting to you (road trip or hitchhike?!). Once you are in Chiang Mai, there are several options to reach the park from here.
• Take one of the many red vans lined across Chang Pauk Gate (the ones near Tha Pae Gate and Chiang Mai gate will always be costlier) which normally charge 100 baht for a round trip along with a 2 hour wait time. This works only when you take the van on a sharing basis. If you are in a large group or want the van to yourself, the drivers can ask as much as 500 Baht or more. You ALWAYS need to negotiate!
• You can rent a bicycle if you are THAT fit and energetic. It’s a steep ride up so bear in mind that it can be rally tough and exhausting unless you are used to some sort of physical activity. But, once you are at the top, it is totally worth it.
The summit of Doi Pui is around 25 km by road. From the center of Chiang Mai get on Highway 1004 also known as the Doi Suthep Road, from the northwest corner of the city moat. After around 2.2 km, zero the trip meter at the Highway 121 (also known as the Canal Road) intersection. From here follow the wide, winding mountain road past the very touristic Doi Suthep Temple at 12.3 km to Buphing Palace at 17.2 km. From here the road narrows considerably. At 18.0 a narrow lane, grandly referred to as Highway 4038, branches right toward the Doi Pui campsite at 22.0 km. This last 4 km of narrow winding lane is the main evergreen forest for birding. After the campsite at 22.0 km it is possible to follow a paved road to a Hmong village, and from there, by 4x4 vehicle only, return down the other side of the mountain to the back of Huay Tueng Tao. Even with a 4x4 this back mountain road is not recommend in the wet season. This would form a loop back to Chiang Mai and is popular with mountain bikers.
Note that the road in the up-direction from Chiang Mai can be closed in the late evening as the police usually set up a road block near the zoo preventing drunks and other undesirables ascending the mountain after dark. (Info credit: North Thailand Birding)

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