Doi Suthep-Pui National Park
Doi Suthep-Pui National Park information
Often bearing a crown of clouds, Doi Suthep (1676m) and Doi Pui (1685m) are Chiang Mai's sacred peaks. The mountains ascend from the humid lowlands into the cool (and even cold) cloud belt where moss and ferns thrive. Portions of the mountains form a 265-sq-km national park that is home to famous Wat Doi Suthep and other attractions. There is also park accommodation (www.dnp.go.th; camping 60B, bungalows 400-2500B).
The park is 16km northwest of central Chiang Mai. Shared rót daang leave from Chiang Mai University (Th Huay Kaew entrance) to various points within the national park. One-way fares start at 40B to Wat Doi Suthep and 70B to Phra Tamnak Bhu Bhing. You can also charter a sŏrng·tăa·ou for about 600B.
The diverse climate fosters more than 300 bird species and nearly 2000 species of ferns and flowering plants. During the rainy season, butterflies bloom as abundantly as the flowers. The eastern side of the mountain stays green and cool almost year-round.
The natural attractions include Nam Tok Monthathon (the park admission fee is collected here), 2.5km off the paved road. Pools beneath the falls hold water year-round, although swimming is best during or just after the monsoon. Close to the base of the mountain, Nam Tok Wang Bua Bahn is free, and full of frolicking locals, although it is more of a series of rapids than falls.
For off-road mountain biking, the park has technical single-track trails that were old hunting and transport routes used by hill-tribe villagers. The routes are never crowded and provide hours of downhill. Because the trails aren't well marked it is advisable to join a guided mountain-biking tour.