Doi Ang Khang is a popular camping destination for Thais seeking cold weather. It's very popular for the sunrise above the large valley with morning fog. Its popularity is among the likes of Doi Inthanon and Doi Phahompok.
Located close to the border with Myanmar in Northern Thailand, many choose Doi Ang Khang for family trips from Chiang Mai. The car ride from Chiang Mai takes about 3 hours. If you are already in Chiang Dao, which you will pass, it's only one hour.
The campsite claims the title of the highest located campground in Thailand. The high season is from November until the end of January.
Getting to Doi Ang Khang
Probably the easiest way to get to Doi Ang Khang is to rent a car. If you have no experience of driving in mountainous terrain you might want to hire a car with a driver. Also, book at least a car with a 1800ccm engine. You might struggle to get up the mountain in a small car with lots of camping gear, even more so if the weather is less than ideal. Plenty of free parking is available directly at the camping ground.
If you are on a budget you can take public transport from Chiang Mai to Chiang Dao (around 50 THB) and hitchhike or hire a driver from there. A motorbike or bicycle is an option too, but that's only for those who are brave enough and traveling very light.
Camping at Doi Ang Khang
The camping site at Doi Ang Khang is well equipped and covers the needs of budget travelers to more luxury-oriented campers. Both bring-your-own-tent or renting a tent is possible. For the latter, you should register in advance as it is often booked out during the high season. More luxury versions are available too, but again: better pre-book. Contact can be made via the website of the Thai National Park Authority. Some impressions to get started:
The cost can vary. The entrance to the national park is 300 THB for foreigners and 50 for Thais. Kids are 50 THB and 25 THB. Vehicles are also charged for: bicycles are merely 10 THB, 20 THB for a motorbike, 30 THB for a regular car, 50 THB for a van or pickup. Bring enough cash for your whole stay, as hard currency is the way to go. Paying by scan or credit card isn’t available. Costs for pre-arranged tours can vary and usually are more expensive when booked through a hotel. Please note, prices can vary with time. This is the information from December 2021.
Renting foam mattresses and sleeping bags for 50 THB/each per night is also available (near the toilets). These also sell out if you are too late. Unfortunately, camping chairs or camping tables aren't available for rent. This can take out the fun a bit if you are planning to enjoy the sunrise in front of your tent with a hot coffee in hand or want to do a local BBQ (Mookrata) in the evening. Especially for the younger ones, it can be a challenge and you should bring a camping chair for your kid.
Food: there are two buildings with local restaurants. The food is clean and tasty (as usual in higher altitudes). Simple meals such as long boiled rice (called joke) start from 30 THB. The premium menu is BBQ sets for 399 for a small Mookrata. This should keep you and your friends or family full as well as busy for an evening. The large set comes at 599 THB. Nice warm tea and milk for fresh evenings or mornings are available too for 20 THB per cup. Both restaurants are open until 11 pm in the high season. The restaurant with inside seating (near the military base) also offers phone charging for customers.
As on many camping grounds, the toilets aren't what you came for. The same goes here. After all, they are free. Cold showers are the norm. Hot showers (for a charge) are available at the restaurants above the restrooms.
Alcohol is prohibited, as signs in various places make clear beyond any doubt. This also seems to be respected in large.
Hike to the Peak of Doi Ang Khang
The camping ground is around 200 meters below the peak of Doi Ang Khang itself. The hike is only 640 meters long. Due to the increase in altitude, it takes around one hour from the camping area.
The start is just behind the military base. Walk along the road until you see the entrance on the right. A sign in the forest marks the start:
The start of the hike is rather steep and overgrown, then it gets much easier. Make sure to wear solid shoes -this isn’t a flip flop hike- and long pants. It's strongly recommended to come down from the peak before sunset as it can be very dangerous at night (even though it feels like the perfect spot to see the sunset). Below are some impressions from the hike:
You won't be able to come any time soon? No worries, I've recorded a short video for you to get an impression of Doi Ang Khang's peak:
Sunset viewpoint in the military base
The military base is not just the home of young recruits and friendly dogs. You can also find a great little bamboo platform to see the sunset at the lower end of the base.
Entry is generally permitted and so is taking photos from the viewpoint. Skip taking photos of the military post as there isn't much to see anyway. A headlamp is recommended in case it gets dark too quickly. Regular sneakers or flip-flops will be sufficient here.
Burmese village right at the border
Got more time on your hands? If you didn't make it to Myanmar and you are with your own car or motorcycle, you can check out a Thai/Burmese village right at the border. It's located 15 minutes by car along the road continuing from the campground. The village reminds me a little of Myanmar: Mostly agriculture and some traditional dresses. This time it's mixed with typical Thai elements tho.
If you are driving yourself, make sure to drive safely and slowly. The roads aren't only steep, but often difficult to oversee on top. Accidents are common as the sides of the roads tell. Otherwise, I hope you have a great time at Doi Ang Khang and get some amazing memories and photos. If you end up going to Doi Ang Khang and would like to share some photos on social media, feel free to contact me or tag MagicBus and I'm happy retweet/share.