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Cloud forest at Siam’s Highest Point in Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand

Doi Inthanon is not only famous for having Thailand’s loftiest peak, but also for rare flora and fauna, which cannot easily be seen elsewhere in the country, like Sphagnum Moss, Common White-toothed Shrew (Crocidura gueldenstaedii) and Green-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis).

Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest peak, was formerly known as ‘Doi Ang Ka’ (literally ‘mountain of stammering crows’) after a legend in which crows played and sang in the swamp area near the summit. 

Cloud Forest at Siam’s Highest Point Doi Inthanon National Park

The peak and 481.89 square kilometers of forested land surrounding it were declared as Thailand’s sixth national park on October 2, 1972. The park extends across Mae Chaem, Chom Thong, Mae Wang and Doi Lo districts of Chiang Mai province.

The cold and snow-covered Himalayan Mountain Range extends down from distant areas in India and Nepal to reach its southern terminus at Thailand’s highest peak, Doi Inthanon. Lying at 2,565 meters above mean sea level, the mountain is blanketed with moisture and is subject to cool weather. Around its summit is hill evergreen forest enshrouded in mist with currents of cool air all year round.

The forest there is dense and shady, with tree trunks entwined with various species of epiphytes, such as wild orchid. Moss, lichen, and ferns grow in profusion – bright green patches of Khaotok Ruesi (Sphagnum moss) carpet the ground. The lush surroundings have been compared with descriptions of Himavanta, the ancient mythological forest realm of Hindu and Buddhist deities.

Cloud forest at Siam's Highest Point in Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand

Near the summit of Doi Inthanon is a peat swamp forest, known to locals as Ang Ka Luang, which functions as a natural reservoir that stores underground water. The area boasts a boardwalked nature trail regarded as one of the best in the country.

Trail users can observe and enjoy the ‘ancient forest-feel’ and the variety of plants originating from the Himalayan region, such as Delavay’s Rhododendron (Rhododendron arboreum subsp. delavayi), White Rhododendron (R. lyi), Inthanon Lady’s Slipper (Paphiopedilum villosum) and the parasitic plant Krathon Phra Ruesi (Sapria himalayana).

The area is also a refuge for animals native to the Himalayan region, including the Chinese Goral (Naemorhedus griseus), Crocodile Salamander (Tylototriton verrucosus) and endemic species of field rat: Common White-toothed Shrew (Crocidura gueldenstaedii), Pere David’s Vole (Eothenomys melanogaster) and Red-toothed Shrew (Soriculus parca).

Green-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis angkanensis)

Green-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis angkanensis).

Doi Inthanon, a true paradise for bird watchers, is a sanctuary for more than 400 bird species. Notable among these are Green-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis angkanensis), Chestnut-tailed Minla and the Blue-winged Minla.

The park also offers four majestic waterfalls, Mae Ya, Siriphum, Vajirathan and Mae Pan, as well as a 2.5 kilometers forest and alpine nature trail at Kio Mae Pan featuring lush vegetation and lofty cliffs.

source : National Park Office. (2013). The Best of National Parks in Thailand. Division of Wild Fauna and Flora Protection, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

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