MAGIC MOUNTAIN OF THE NORTH
Its kaleidoscope of colours and rare species will take your breath away – but trekkers should save some energy if they want to conquer the mighty Doi Mon Jong
Information & Photos: The Tourism Authority of Thailand
Compiled by Sarita Urupongsa
Located in the Omkoi Wildlife Sanctuary, the forested slopes of Doi Mon Jong mountain play a vital role in Thailand’s ecosystem, as they are home to many rare species.
Doi Mon Jong straddles Chiang Mai’s Omkoi district and Tak’s Sam Ngao district and takes its name from the northern dialect words for “triangular mountain peak”.
Rising, 1,929 metres above sea level, Doi Mon Jong is among the 10 highest peaks in Thailand and was once a rich habitat for an astonishing variety of wild animals. While wild elephants and the rare goat-antelope creatures known as goral and serow are still sighted in the reserve, you will be very lucky if you manage to spy one.
Day trips on the mountain are available but can be exhausting, so it’s recommended that you spend a night camping on the peak – though you will have to take permission from the Lahu Unit of Omkoi Wildlife Sanctuary.
FROM THE PEAK
A majestic panorama of the hill range and colourful mosaic of terraced valleys greet you once you reach the Doi Hua Singha or Lions Head summit. Visit in December or January and you will find the terraces glowing bright with the golden hue of a wintery sun, though dawn and dusk at any time of year will leave you speechless.
The winter months also bring another colourful spectacle to Doi Mon Jong, as the large rhododendron (kularb phan pee) that cloak the mountain burst into red, white and pink blooms.
The peak is also a paradise for ornithologists and bird lovers, delighting eye and ear with the sights and sounds of a myriad different species. These range from the northern goshawk.
Bonelli’s eagle and the booted eagle, to the white-bellied green pigeon, rufous-throated fulvetta and black-throated thrush to name just a few.
WHEN TO GO
This year, agents will start taking bookings for hikes up Doi Mon Jong from October 1, though the mountain is only open to tourists from November 1 until around the end of February. entry after that is forbidden due to concerns about stampeding elephants and the risk of wildfires in the super-scorching hot weather.
From downtown Chiang Mai it takes four to five hours to get to Doi Mon Jong by road. If you’re driving, take Highway 108 and then go left on to Highway 1099 in Hod district. Then drive for some 40 kilometres until you see the Lahu Unit on your left. From there it’s about 16km to the trail’s starting point. You will require a 4-wheeled vehicle and a skilled driver to tackle the rough, rocky and steep road.
You can also take a bus leaving from Chang Phueak Gate Bus Terminal at 8am. Transfers can also be arranged to the trail’s staring point.
For more information, contact the Tourism Authority of Thailand (Chiang Mai Office) at +66 (0) 53 248 604, facebook.com/tatchiangmai and Doi Monjong Tourism Service Centre by Community at +66 (0) 92 559 7201, doimonjong.web.app