A place not often visited by Western tourists, Phu Chi Fa or 'the Mountain that Points to the Sky' is a wonderful place to experience the sunrise in Chiang Rai Province. To get the best from the experience, you either need to get up pretty early and take a tour bus or stay overnight. There is a campsite available or you can opt for local village accommodation in Ban Rom Fa Thong.
From the car park at the base of Phu Chi Fa there is a steep 1.8 km climb to the viewing point at the top of the mountain. At the summit you will discover a large grassy plain, which ends in a small peak (that points towards the sky). The climb maybe steep, but it is worth it when you are rewarded by spectacular views over the Mekong River and deep into Laos. The sunrises here are particularly wonderful as in the early morning the valley is covered in a sea of clouds. As the sun rises the morning mist swirls and subsides and the green mountain tops below begin to peak through – the effect is incredibly breathtaking!
The Royal Villa at Doi Tung was the residence of Her Royal Highness Princess Srinagarindra, the Princess Mother. The villa was built in 1987 and constructed under Her Majesty's supervision to incorporate architectural elements from Switzerland (where Her Royal Highness lived for many years) and from Lanna culture.
When the villa was first proposed the Royal Forest Department planned to give the land that it was to be constructed on as a gift to Her Royal Highness. However, Her Majesty declined the kind offer, stating that as no other Thai could own property in a forest preserve then neither should she. Her Majesty had chosen to build a villa in the area so that she could have a base for her work on the Doi Tung Development Project – a project that works to sustain the lives of local people and the forest in the area. The Royal Villa is therefore not owned, but leased, under a 30 year term – that being the length of the Doi Tung Development Project.
The villa was very much thought as 'home' by Her Majesty. Indeed on the Royal entrance there is an English saying written in Thai which translates as 'A house is built of brick and stone, a home is built of love alone – Home sweet home.' The exterior of the villa was decorated with reclaimed teak wood, while the interior is paneled with recycled pine wood that came from shipping crates. The highlight of the Royal Villa is on the ceiling of the main hall. Designed by the Astronomy Society of Thailand, the handcrafted wood inlay is dotted with tiny lights representing the position of the constellations on October 21, 1900, the day the Princess Mother was born.
The Mae Fah Garden in Doi Tung is located on the hillside just below the Doi Tung Royal Villa – Royal residence to the late Royal Highness Princess Srinagarindra, the Princess Mother. The name of the garden is derived from the nickname Mae Fa Luang (meaning Royal Mother from the Sky or Heavenly Royal Mother) given to Her Royal Highness by the Thai people.
Covering 25 rai (4 hectares), the garden was created with support from the Tourism Authority of Thailand and was opened to the public in 1992. The climate in the area is quite different from the rest of the country and so it is possible to grow a range of plants from different environments. Throughout the year, flowers adorn this hillside, making the Mae Fah Luang Garden one of the brightest and most colorful sites in Thailand.
At the center of the garden is a statue of children climbing on top of each other, forming a human pyramid that reaches up to the sky. The creation of one of Thailand's leading artists: Misiem Yipintsoi, the statue is called 'Continuity'. Her Majesty believed that continuity was the success of any endeavor and so the statue was given the name 'Continuity'. Today, it stands as a symbol for the efforts of the Princess Mother to improve the lives of the people of Thailand. The garden brings substantial income to the area, directly as job opportunities for the locals, and indirectly as a tourist destination.
Doi Tung Mountain is located very near the border between Thailand and Myanmar in Chiang Rai Province. The mountain has a wonderful history of transformation. The mountain was used for the growing of poppies in the middle of this century when the mountain was deforested to make way for fields of poppies to support of the drug trade at that time.
Then through the efforts of the royal family and intervention of the King of Thailand, the mountain was transformed to a garden paradise, supporting amazing gardens and orchards of tasty fruit trees and coffee. The story of this huge achievement is being told in the Hall of Inspiration, a building dedicated to the remeberance of this amazing transformation. Today, several ethnic communities live on the mountain in harmony helping to provide it’s visitors a botanical garden paradise to enjoy.
This post offers a summary of the destinations in Chiang Mai that are in my post. Each destination offers a great experience during your visit to Chiang Mai, so check them out and try to make the time for visiting a many as you can. I will be updating this post as I add more great Chiang Mai Destinations.
There is a Hmong Village on Doi Suthep, which is the mountain overlooking Chiang Mai to the west. The Hmong tribes are the original inhabitants of the Yellow River Valley in ancient China. The expansion of the neighboring Chinese from the north, forced the Hmong tribes to migrate southwards to escape oppression and persecution.
This Hmong village has a history in growing poppies for the drug trade many years ago. The villagers now only grow flowers, fruits and vegetables thanks to the Thai Kings program to rid the kingdom of drugs.
Doi Inthanon National Park is the "roof of Thailand", having the highest "spot" in this fascinating tropical country. Situated about an hours drive from the northern province of Chang Mai, the park contains many beautiful vistas overlooking exotic, subtropical forests. Life in the forests here is quite different from that found further south, due to the colder influence of the Himalayan mountains. I found you need at least 2 days to get a true flavor of this magnificent park that has tall majestic waterfalls, vast amazing views, and hiking trails through lush subtropical forests. The highest "spot" in the park weighs in at 2,565 meters above mean sea level and the temperature often dips below freezing in Thailand winter months. When i was there the temperature plummeted to 5 degrees Celsius and I was cold for a am quite accustomed to the hot tropical days of Thailand.
The King and Queen Twin Chedis
Phra Mahathat Chedi Nabhametaneed and Phra Mahathat Chedi Naphapholphumsiri are two amazing monuments built on top of Doi Inthanon mountain in the shape of twin pagodas. The pagodas are very large and hugely impressive, it is as if they are standing guard over Thailand's northern boarders. The pagodas are surrounded by wonderful gardens and each offers spectacular views of the mountains, especially at sunset.
Doi Inthanon at Sunset
To a outdoor photographer, photographing the setting sun can be magical. Colors spring to life in from of your lens as the sun moves low on the horizon. Sunset on Doi Inthanon Mountain was an amazing treat after a long day of sight seeing. The colors were absolutely stunning. I have always found that (mostly) sunsets are more colorful that sunrises. I tested this theory on this trip by getting up early the next day to have a look (and take more photos). Thai people seemed to like the morning hours much more than the evening sun show for there was many people awake and ready for the sun to rise that morning. Which was good for me because it was quite cold and they had coffee and a few small fires to warm yourself in the main area to catch the sunrise.
Birds of Doi Inthanon
The variety of birds found in Doi Inthanon not found anywhere else in Thailand due to the change in elevation experienced in the park. Well I was in the park there was a group of bird watchers there from America. This is great for me because they were calling the birds in with a special whistle. While I don't know the species names I was able to get a lot of great pictures. I am happy to share them with you here.
Nature trails of the park
The nature trails of the Doi Inthanon National Park take you up into an evergreen cloud forest and along the ridge top ridge that is dotted with red rhododendron. The views from on top of the ridge are absolutely spectacular and I recommend taking the hike to anyone who makes it into the park. Before heading back into the cloud forest,you get a glimpse of the twin chedis from above and it is truly amazing.
Flowers of the Park
The flowers of Doi Inthanon National Park are as stunning as the views. I am just giving you a teaser here in hopes you go and see them for yourself.
Doi Inthanon National Park is Thailand’s highest mountain at 2,599 metres above sea level and is the foothills of the Himalayas, which ranges across Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, and ends at Northern Thailand. The summit forest is an important source of water for the tributaries feeding the Mae Ping River. These Tributaries have cut the most amazing waterfalls, and a must see if you make it to Doi Inthanon National Park.
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