Nineteen hikers registered for this first organized trip of the Chiang Mai Hikers to Doi Inthanon. In the end there were only 17 as one canceled at the last minute and one didn’t show up at the meeting point. The drive to the National Park took just over 1. 5 hours, so it was dark by the time we arrived. We were pleasantly surprised to gain admission for only 40 baht each. The 3 cars carrying the 11 who were booked at the homestay regrouped a few kms. short of the turnoff at km. 26 and so arrived together. We found that the village now has several homestays, which caused some initial confusion until we found the one where we were booked. (We now have the names and phone numbers of the 2 who run our homestay.) Our accommodation was one large cabin with 6 large mattresses, bedding and blankets, and a tiled bath room with a hot water shower. Cost was 200 baht each per night. I believe we were all well pleased with the arrangement, and also the restaurant nearby where we had all our meals. There were also 2 coffee shops in the area where we enjoyed free fresh coffee. The rice fields are the predominant feature of this village, and attract many Thai from Bangkok and other parts south who come to party and take photographs.
Saturday morning the 6 hikers who were staying at a resort outside the park joined us for breakfast before 8, and then 2 of us took an early excursion by motorcycle to the park information center at km. 31. The officials there were not encouraging about hiking, as many trails are not open to the public, and those that are are closed until 1 Nov. In the end they mentioned that villagers at our homestay at Ban Mae Klang Luang might offer us a hike to Doi Hua Sya (Tiger Head Mountain), and when we returned to the village we found a guide was already offering to do this. With a group our size we needed 2 guides and 2 pick up trucks to take us to the starting point 8 km. up the road.We stepped out at 9:45 and would be walking to the top of Doi Hua Sya, eating lunch there, and then returning to our homestay village by another route. This would probably be classed as a moderately difficult hike of about 12 km., with some very steep uphill sections, deep forest, many small stream crossings, and many beautiful view points over the mountains, rice fields, and deep valleys. The guides, Josi and Dee, in their red Karen shirts, were very accommodating to many photo stops, and also showing us various medicinal plants along the way. (The pictures should tell it all.) Our lunch stop was high on a grassy knoll with 180 deg. precipitous views down into the valley. During the last 3-4 km. the hikers separated into 2 groups so the faster ones didn’t have to wait for the slower ones. Each group had a guide with it, the first arriving at the village at 3:30 and the rest a short while afterward. Cost of transport was 1000 baht and guides 600 baht each.
Sunday morning we asked Josi to take us on a local hike to a series of waterfalls. Some of the hikers opted out as they were still recovering from Saturday’s hike or wanted to do some sight seeing on the way back to Chiang Mai. So there were 8 of us who met Josi at a coffee shop and started out just after 9am. This is a relatively easy hike, taking only 2 hrs. including photo taking, and enhanced by bamboo hand rails on the steep sections.The first part of the trail climbs up along side rice fields, an irrigation ditch, and beds of hot-house flowers. After entering the forest it continues up until reaching the first falls, a shear drop of rushing water, where the hikers took many posed photos before crossing the bamboo bridge and continuing up to the next fall. Each of the 3 falls we passed had its own unique beauty and immense power. When we came out on the road, we waited a while for the pre-arranged pick-up-truck to arrive. Josi offered to take us to the Royal Project less than a km. away. We enjoyed the flowers there, but decided to return to the homestay without going to the waterfall there, driven by time constraints, hunger, and having seen enough waterfalls for a day.
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