Mountains of the North: Doi Angkhang and Doi Inthanon

Overview of village in the mountains Doi Angkhang

Mountains of the North: Doi Angkhang and Doi Inthanon

Doi Angkhang and Doi Inthanon are our two favorite mountains in North Thailand. They have many things in common but also differ in some respects. In the following article we reflect on strong points and weak points.
Doi Inthanon is the highest mountain of Thailand with 2565 metres. Doi Angkhang ranks only 15th in the list of high mountains of the country: 1928 metres. How do you get there? Doi Inthanon is located southwest of Chiang Mai. It takes about 1,5 hours drive from Chiang Mai to Doi Inthanon. Doi Angkhang is northwest of Chiang Mai. It takes about 3 hours to drive from Chiang Mai to Angkhang. Of course these driving times depend on the traffic. Roads are in good condition.

Most people visit Doi Inthanon on a day tour from Chiang Mai. Doi Inthanon gets many visitors especially in the period from November until February, the cool season in the north. Especially around Christmas and New Year it can become very busy.
Because of the distance a day tour from Chiang Mai to Doi Angkhang few people visit Angkhang on a day tour. They either visit the mountain on the way to somewhere else (Fang, Chiang Rai or somewhere else) or they used to stay overnight on Angkhang at the Angkhang Nature Resort or one of the guesthouses. With the closure of all accommodation last April to stay overnight at Angkhang is now only possible on the camping ground, about 5 kms from Ban Khum on the road to Fang.

View deck at the camping ground of Doi Angkhang
Doi Angkhang camping site view over Fang

What do these popular mountains have in common?

1) Both mountains are located in national parks. Doi Inthanon National Park is named after the mountain of the same name. Doi Angkhang is part of the Doi Pha Hom Pok National Park. With 2296 meters Doi Pha Hom Pok is Thailand’s second highest mountain.

2)Both mountains have hilltribe communities: Doi Inthanon has Karen and Hmong villages, Doi Angkhang has a Palong and a Black Lahu village. On Angkhang there are also several Chinese villages. Most of these people are descendants of KMT troops that took refuge in Thailand. These villages really ooze a very different atmosphere.
3) Both mountains have a Royal Project, albeit a bit different from each other. The Angkhang Agricultural Station is perhaps the largest Royal Project in the country, covering 318 ha. It was established in 1979. The Doi Inthanon Royal Project was established in the same year and is significantly smaller.

Woman sleeping Doi Inthanon Hmong Market
Doi Inthanon Hmong Royal Project Market

What is special about Doi Inthanon?

1)Doi Inthanon is the highest mountain of the country.

2)Doi Inthanon has a number of wonderful waterfalls such as the Vachirathan, Mae Ya, Pha Dok Siew and Mae Pan. Doi Angkhang has none. The waterfalls of Doi Inthanon National Park feature in Doi Inthanon Tours year round. We offer two day tours: Doi Inthanon: mighty waterfalls, rural life and Royal Chedis on Thailand’s highest peak and Doi Inthanon: trekking the nature trails on the roof of Thailand. The first program features the Pha Dok Siew Nature Trail, managed by the local Karen people of Ban Mae Klang Luang. This trail is open year round. The nature trails tour features the famous Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail. This trail is managed by members of the local Hmong village. It is only open from November 1 until May 31.

The Vachirathan waterfall is perhaps the most popular of Doi Inthanon’s falls. Doi Angkhang, on the other hand has no waterfalls to speak of, at least we have not found them.

3)Doi Inthanon is a very popular destination and attracts hundreds of tourists on a daily basis, especially in the cool season.

View on Vachirathan Waterfall Doi Inthanon
Doi Inthanon Vachirathan Waterfall

What is special about Doi Angkhang?

1)Doi Angkhang has that remote feeling that Doi Inthanon lacks. As we wrote earlier, visiting Doi Ankghang from Chiang Mai on a day tour makes no sense. It is just too far.

2)The drive to Angkhang is very beautiful and scenic but also strenuous. Road no.1340 skirts the Thai-Myanmar border and is mountainous. The other access road is no.1249 which is much shorter but very steep with hairpins. This road can be tricky, especially when it rains. Views are absolutely fantastic.

3)Not many people visit Doi Angkhang. The recent closure of all accommodation in Baan Khum, where the entrance to the Royal Project is located, will have an effect on the amount of visitors.

You will need to spend the night, either in Fang or at the camping site of the national park. In the Chinese villages Sinchai, Pha Daeng and Tham Ngob there are some basic guesthouses but they didn’t look very attractive to us.Doi Angkhang is worth spending one or even two full days. The villages Kob Dong (Black Lahu) and Noh Lae (Palong or Palaung) are both worth a visit. The Royal Project is worth spending a couple of hours.

Doi Angkhang forests with green leaves
Doi Angkhang forests en route

Tours to Doi Angkhang are under construction! Soon.