“We went to the highest point in Chiang Mai yesterday.” Said someone in a cafe.
Ding Ding Ding. Instantly added it to my list of things to do. I do a quick Google search it brings me here:
Is this even real? It looks like a scene out of some kind of Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, fantasy anime hybrid movie. But, it’s real and it’s called Doi Inthanon.
I read on a few Thailand travel blogs that there is a beautiful hike, Giew Mae Pan, that requires a tour guide of 200THB. Ok! Let’s do it.
Step 1. Find someone to go with. I couldn’t go with my boyfriend as he is recovering from a torn ACL injury. Luckily his friend, Jay, was visiting Chiang Mai and was will to adventure with me.
Step 2. Figure out how to get there. During my research most people said to rent a car and drive which cost them upwards of 2,000THB. Hello, I’m on a budget, next option. Others said to hire a van for the day with a tour guide claiming it would be 1,700THB per person. HELLO! I said I’m on a budget. Option three was to take the local transportation, songthaew. None of the blogs said how much this would be, but said it was the cheapest. We went to the Chiang Mai Gate – one of the southern gates of the Old City to look for a yellow songthaew. I knew we wanted to go to Chom Thong, an area around Doi Inthnon, which had other songthaews that would take us to the top. As Jay and I moseyed over to a songthaew with our cellphone in hand ready to show the driver she blurted “Chom Thong? 40 Baht.”
Wow! That was easier than expected. Certainly in my budget. For an hour and a half drive out of Chiang Mai it cost us 40THB Each.
Step 3. Find the hike entrance. This is where I failed and a language barrier got in the way of my original plan. When we got out of one yellow songthaew another was waiting with two Thai locals asking if we’re also looking to visit Doi Inthanon. We said yes, but I pointed to the hike and they just kind of nodded. We hopped in and found that it was 1,500THB for all four of us. Getting a little pricey, but we bargained him down to 1,200THB – 300THB each. OK fine.
We get to the entrance of the park and find we have to pay to get in. The Thai couple in the songthaew with us offered to pay for our ticket because it is 50THB for locals. For tourist however it is 300THB. WHAT THE HECK. Unfortunate for us, the guy in the office saw what we were up to and Jay and I each had to pay 300THB. Now were up to 640THB for the trip.
We get to the top and the driver says we have a half hour to walk around this area.
Half-hour?!?! The hike takes two hours. I realize here that we weren’t going on the Giew Mae Pan hike anymore. Instead we had signed up to have the tour guide take us to four locations within the park. The highest point, Royal Twin Pagodas, a hill tribe market and the Wachiratharn Waterfall.
Step four. Enjoy the sites. Although we got mixed up we still managed to see beautiful parts of Thailand and even were at the highest point! In the end we each spent 740THB each. Significantly lower than what I saw during my research.
Royal Twin Pagodas:
Step five. Get back. Our tour guide made his way back into Chom Thong and had us get out at a bus stop. With no real signage we figure a bus would come eventually and it did! About three minutes later an open windowed bus showed up and we hopped on. 34THB per person.
We didn’t make it to the hike, but we sure did see some unforgettable views. Highly recommend this trip. It takes a whole day and you can most certainly do it on a budget.
Until my next journey~