What is better than to relax in a peaceful environment, chill on the terrace with a coffee in your hand, or to go hiking to the top of the highest mountain in Thailand. This and much more North Thailand can offer you!
In this article I will present you three national parks. We visited: Doi Suthep national park, Doi Inthanon and Chang Dao national Park. And for more we visited Elephant Sanctuary Into the wild.
We came to Chiang Mai with a plane from Bangkok. It is approximately two hours of flying. I was really impressed by this unique cultural city in the North. Totally opposite than Bangkok.
I read Chiang Mai Old City is like a living museum. It has narrow streets with beautiful temples, old shop houses and historical buildings, all surrounded by the crumbling ancient walls”. The old city is small, so you can easily get around on foot. We were staying in the center in the Anumat Premium hotel; really good hotel and very cheap!
Chiang Mai is just perfect place to explore Night Markets. Market is big and goes all over the two main roads. You can explore more over the walls.
DOI SUTHEP NATIONAL PARK
The Best point to go to Doi Suthep is from ZOO in Chiang Mai. By the street you will find a lot of “shared taxis” which will take you to the temple, Bhubing Palace and Hmong Village with Doi Pui View point. You can count all day for this trip around the national park.
In the park you can find few waterfalls, viewpoints, caves and the nature. Also park offers you trails for cycling.
TEMPLE – To the temple leads 309 steps to reach golden pagodas, statues and murals around. It is a sacred site for Thai people, so to enter you must be dressed properly! The view from the top is amazing. You can see Chiang Mai and Airport.
BHUBING PALACE – It is on the way to Hmong Village and you can stop. It was built in 1961 and it is the royal winter residence to accommodate the royal family during their visits to the northern Thailand. The official name of the palace is Phra Tamnak Phu Phing. We did not enter the palace. The area is nice for bird watching, butterfly watching and has also good view over Chiang Mai.
HMONG VILLAGE – is a peaceful village in a beautiful location in the north of the park. It consists of a museum, garden, local houses and souvenir shops. A long history of the Gmong people is worth to visit. On the top you can enjoy Hmong Doi Pui Family Coffee. At the start king did not allow Family to start coffee plantation, now he supports them. You can support local products! We bought dry mangoes and strawberries. Yummy!
Trekking in DOI INHANON NATIONAL PARK
Doi Inthanon is the highest mountain in Thailand (2,565 meters). It is located 2 hours from Chiang Mai. Entrance fee for the park is 300 Bahts.
We took a tour by agency (Pha Dok Siew Trail). We had included transportation, lunch, trekking and main attractions: the highest point in Thailand, the twin pagodas with spectacular views, Wachirathan waterfall and Sirithan waterfall. It is good to take tour and trekking with agency because second park – trekking – you can do just with local hill tribe guide.
The park’s protected status makes it a sanctuary for a wide range of animal species. Approximately 362 different species of bird make their home in Doi Inthanon National Park. Park is also home to a wide variety of animal species (leopards). Although many of the large animals are no longer found in the park it is still home to a number of different species. Asiatic Black Bears, Barking Deer and Chinese Flying Squirrels can be seen.
First attraction was 80 meters high Wachirathan waterfall. Around the waterfall you can see picture of the king of Thailand.
We continued to the top of the mountain. Trail leads through forest and it is touristic place, because you can come on the top with car.
On a lower level are twin pagodas (Queen and King´s pagoda) with gardens and spectacular views over the mountains. Everybody can see because there are escalators which lead to the top level.
After main attractions it was time for trekking through a jungle forest to the flower and strawberry plantation. Strawberries grow at high levels from November to March, in the summer season (when is raining season) here grows rice. On lower levels rice grows all year long.
- YAN TREE – a lot of these strong trees can be used for swings 😉
Did you know that we can find in jungle forests also mangoes and bananas? We saw all these and believe it or no, a green viper :O This green tiny snake can be found in Thai jungle forests. And offcourse lots of rice fields. On the way through the jungle trail leads us near the river, waterfalls (where you can jump and swim) and stunning landscape.
Trekking last for about two hours and at the end, we finish at Mae Klang Wang Coffee house in the jungle. They showed us how they make coffee. We tried coffee arabica.
ELEPHANT SANCTUARY: INTO THE WILD
There are a lot of elephant sanctuaries around the Thailand. We decided for Into the wild because of reviews on Google. They will pick you up and drive you to the sanctuary, which is btw pure nature, around one hour and a half away from the Chiang Mai.
Sanctuary is a place where elephants feel FREE. They are not in chains. They can walk around the jungle and little ones can play in the river. They are not treated bad for riding purposes. All these experiences you can get, with riding and no riding are businesses for Thai people. Also sanctuaries. Just that between riding elephants for fun, probably not knowing nothing about them and sanctuaries, is that here you have better connections with these wild animals. We fed them with bananas, we had a short trekking, we took a mud bath and we swam with them in the river. It is a great feeling to see them enjoying. Like little kids.
Instead of riding and exploiting elephants, Sanctuary is a place where people should treat them with LOVE and RESPECT. It is all about attitude and connection. Our guide PAI gave us an example with pets. Elephants are like his babies. He doesn´t want them to get sick or to be hurt.
!! So if you are going to Thailand to see elephants, do NOT go to ride them !!
CHANG DAO NATIONAL PARK
Chiang Dao is a small town in the northern part of Chiang Mai and it is also called the ‘City of Stars’. Doi Chang Dao is also the third highest peak in Thailand. It reaches a height of 2,186 meters. You can enjoy the green rainforests, limestone caverns and a lot of waterfalls in the jungle.
The national park is two hours away from Chiang Mai and it is located close to the Myanmar border.
We stayed in the village in nice bungalows; it is called Ashi Guest House. If you want a peaceful and relaxing environment, out from the busy running cities; Chang Dao area will be the perfect place to stay. We were here 2 days and we would probably stay more if we wouldn´t have booked plane tickets.
In two days we rented a scooter from our Gust House and we went to explore the park. We went on a road through the park and stopped in the villages with awesome views. Views on the mountains (with clouds) are my favorites <3! We visited temple Tham Pha Plong with over 500 steps to the top. The temple is based in a small cave surrounded by the jungle halfway to the mountain top.When you are in Thailand, you will see images of Buddha everywhere. Next was Chang Dao cave (entrance fee: 40 Baht). You can admire numerous natural formations of limestone and crystal along with stalactites and stalagmites. It is said that in this area are more than 100 caves, just five are open to public.
Next adventures were in our second favorite destination in Thailand, Krabi. I am preparing highlights of Krabi and it will come on site in next days 😉 Stay awesome!