A chilly January night keeping warm by the camp fire is not a scene that immediately springs to mind when thinking of travel in Thailand. What does come to mind? For most of us, me included, it might be the world famous beaches, the Temples and rich history, and for anyone that has already had the pleasure of visiting Thailand, it’s unbeatable food.
With not a beach or bustling city in sight, there we were, well and truly out in the countryside in Doi Inthanon National Park.
Doi Inthanon National Park is Thailand’s highest point and has long been popular amongst domestic tourists, and increasingly so with travellers passing through South East Asia. For Thai nationals it’s a place to go and enjoy cooler temperatures and a chance to escape the stifling heat of many Thai towns and cities. The rolling hills, and the valleys that lie in between offer some stunning views and seemingly endless opportunities to trek through the countryside.
The drive from Chiang Mai is the perfect way to start the adventure and arguably just as much fun as the destination itself. Once outside of the city the roads quickly become winding, country roads with the inclines getting gradually steeper, with views to match. Along the way there are plenty of good places to stop to refuel both you and your vehicle. A decent smattering of fresh coffee stops mean you could spend all day journeying up to Doi Inthanon if you really wanted.
After a few hours making the ascent, we arrived at our accommodation, Angka Homestay. The big ‘wow’ factor here becomes immediately obvious before we’ve even parked up. What a view!
The rooms are great too. This being a National Park admittedly it wasn’t the Hilton, but it was cozy, comfy and had a homely feel. The wooden bungalows also boast piping hot showers that were very welcome in single digit outside temperatures.
With a small number of rooms, plenty of open space, and an inviting common area stocked with refreshments, snacks and some local beers for sale, Angka Homestay has such a friendly vibe. It’s got that air of camaraderie that the best campsites and places to hang out often have. Given the surroundings this is no surprise, but it’s also just as much down to the owners, Sunny and Joy. Always quick to smile, they are great hosts; ensuring the camp fire was roaring and the BBQ was on, not to mention the local dishes that kept appearing from the kitchen. Good company, good food, and the great outdoors at it’s very best is what spending time in Doi Inthanon is all about.
After a night of lots of chatter, and even more of the local brew (!) we woke early, had some rice for breakfast (when in Rome…) and headed off on a trek through the trees and mountains and up to an awesome waterfall. The beauty of it all is that the trek starts about 20 metres from Angka Homestay ao it really feels special and is you’re at a base camp for a proper adventure!
The trek served as the perfect way to dust off the cobwebs from the night before. Quickly reaching some steep inclines that have yet more cracking views (just in case there hasn’t been enough of those!) the trek is dominated by a stunning waterfall. The falls provide the backdrop for large chunks of the trek, as it falls on many levels rather than one big centerpiece waterfall.
Trekking down the other side of the hill, we’re all surprised to find a coffee shop amongst the trees. It was a welcome break and chance to refuel before heading back towards Angka Homestay, with the final stretch passing rice fields and water buffalo, ensuring we end on a very Thai note.
One of my best trips out in Northern Thailand, or in fact anywhere in the world. Lovely hosts, a good walk to earn the evening beers, a BBQ and amazing vistas.