Hiking the Highest Peak in Thailand!

Thailand Vacation

When thinking about Thailand,  hiking is not the first thing that comes to mind. But, believe it or not, this is what we did!

In the northwest corner of Thailand, near the historical city of Chiang Mai, stands the highest peak in the country, Doi Inthanon, at 8,481 feet above sea level. The ridge is part of the southeastern continuation of the uplift process that formed the Himalayas, extending southward along the Thai-Myanmar border.

The forested area around Doi Inthanon was one of the original 14 national parks created in 1954. A small fee is associated with the entrance of the Park. About halfway to the top, there is a parking area and the entrance to the trail. Walk to the ranger station, and a guide will automatically be assigned to you for a small fee. To this day, we still are not sure why we needed a guide, but we think the authorities do not want people to wonder around and get lost. However, we saw plenty of Thai group without guides. Only the “Foreigners” had them. [You’ll see the word “Foreigners” often when visiting highly touristic areas; don’t get offended the rules are just different]

The hike is not difficult, but you can definitely feel the attitude. Breathing becomes difficult. Clouds often obstruct the view from the top. Even in the late summer months, the temperature variance from the valley can be radical, so bring a jacket you will need it. Wear good shoes, the ground can be slippery. During the rainy season that runs from April to November, it often rains in the afternoon. The vegetation is dense, but the trail is well marked. It took us a little over 3-hours to hike to the top and back. Our guide followed our pace and gave us plenty of time to enjoy the scenery.

A few miles from the summit we ran across two Chedis located on facing hills. They were erected to commemorate the King and Queen’s 60th birthdays. Climbing the stairs to each structure is worth it. The gardens are beautiful maintained and the view is astonishing if you are lucky to be there on a clear day.

From Chiang Mai the park is located an hour-and-half drive. There are a few accommodations on the park grounds, and reservations are recommended.

As always safe travel!

Day Trips from Bangkok

Bangkok is a large city of 17 million people. After a few days visiting the town we felt the need to get out of the noise, traffic and smug that never stop. Our Thai friends suggested we drive to the Bridge on the River Kwai and hike the Erawan waterfalls. So, we packed an overnight bag, and here we were driving west out of the city to Kanchanaburi, Thailand.

The Bridge on the River Kwai

The bridge on the River Kwai was made famous through the 1957 film directed by David Lean and baring the same name. The movie received and Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. But the real story was not as glamorous. The bridge was constructed during WWII to transport daily cargo to India to back up the Japanese planned attack on India. The construction was achieved in difficult conditions using prisoners of wars and slave laborers. The work started in 1942 and was completed in a year. During that time thousands of laborers lost their lives, and the War Cemetery where 7,000 POWs are buried is here to remind us of their stories. The original bridge was bombed in 1944 where three sections were destroyed. The present bridge has two of its central spans rebuilt, while the original can be seen in the War Museum near by.

 

Things to do in Kanchanaburi, Thailand

  • Rent a boat for a tour on the river

 

  • Hop on a floating party house for a drink or two

  • Stop at the War Cemetery to pay respect to the thousand of soldiers buried here
  • Visit the World War II museum
  • Hike or bike to the Koapooncave Temple and visit the caves

Erawan Waterfalls

Erawan Water falls are located in one of Thailand National Park close to the Myanmar border, and an hour drive north west of the Bridge on the River Kwai.

The area is covered by limestone hills. The seven levels of falls extent around 1,500 meters above sea level through the rainforest. The access to the first waterfalls is relatively easy, however the trail gets stepper and rougher as it carries on the next tiers. The highlight of the first water fall is the great number of fish swimming in the ponds, munching dead skin on your feet. A weird sensation, but after a while you get use to it.

A few tips:

  • Arrive early to be able to hike to the top falls. Upper levels close at 3:30 pm.
  • Plan on about 3 hours to hike the entire length of the falls
  • Wear shoes that can go in the water as well as hike the steep hills of the last levels.
  • There is a hotel in the park as well as a youth hostel and campground to spend the night.
  • Do not feed the monkeys, they can get aggressive.
  • Bus tours are available from Bangkok. It takes the entire day and they leave early in the morning.
  • Even on a slow day off-season the lower falls felt crowded.

As Always Safe Travel!

36-hours in Hong Kong

What would you do if you only had 36-hours to spend in an iconic city of 7 million people?

This is what we asked ourselves when we arrived on our planned 36-hours layover that turned into 24-hours due to a flight delay out of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Hong Kong is a large city of several islands built around Victoria Harbor, one of the deepest natural maritime ports in the world at the mouth of the Pearl River Delta.

The history of the town is complex. Leased by England until July 1, 1997, Hong Kong and surrounding territories control was transferred back to China on that date.

Mandarin is now the spoken language, but the English presence is still visible all around town, and most people still speak English.

The train is the easiest way to get to Kowloon Peninsula from the airport. It took us 25 minutes and cost 105 HKG dollars, about $13. We then connected to a free shuttle bus, called “Airport Express shuttle bus” that took us a few blocks from our hotel. There are several lines, just inquire at the information booth when you arrive at the train station.

Hong Kong is formed of several islands, and after further deliberation, due to the limited amount of time we had, we decided to get a good sense of the city by concentrating our visit to Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula touristic areas.

The Peak

The Peak is the highest point in Hong Kong Island and one that offers breathtaking views both day and night of the stunning cityscape, Victoria Harbor and the New Territories. When time is limited, the Peak gives you a good idea of the topography of the city and understanding the strategic location of the harbor around the world. The Peak Circle Walk is a hiking trail that loops around the hill for some of the best view of Hong Kong, and the striking contrast of urban and natural landscape.

The Ferry

The Star Ferry has been transporting passengers from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and back for over a century and offer a unique vantage point on the city’s beautiful harbor, skyline, and the various activities taking place on the water.

The Clock Tower

The Clock Tower is a remnant of the former Kowloon-Canton Railway Terminus, a reminder of the Aged of Steam and memorable landmark for the millions who have passed through Victoria Harbor.

Our visit was way too short, and Hong Kong, like Berlin has been added to our bucket list of cities to return.

As always Safe Travel!