This winter let’s go green, get some fresh air and fall in love again with Chiang Dao!
Situated just 80 kilometres (or less than two hour’s drive) north from Chiang Mai, the little town of Chiang Dao makes for a great countryside retreat away from the city of Chiang Mai. Dominated by the mighty Doi Luang Chiang Dao (Thailand’s 3rd highest mountain at 2225 meters), Chiang Dao is nestled in a beautiful, peaceful and mountainous area with plenty of opportunities to explore!
Activities and places to discover in Chiang Dao include Chiang Dao Caves, the hot springs, some delicious restaurants (sea food and burgers), plus an amazing national park. Let’s check it out!
The famous Chiang Dao Cave is a 12 km chamber filled with impressive stalactites. Steps and handrails make the cave very accessible. In addition, artificial lighting allows you to observe in detail the geology of the cave. If you prefer, you can also hire a local guide to visit the other sectors of the cave, which are mostly unchanged and home to many bats. The area surrounding the cave is an old and beautiful Buddhist temple. Its main chedi dates back to sixty years ago and a newest one has eight giant Buddhas statues surrounding it.
Pong Arng Hot Springs are also definitely worth a visit while you’re in Chiang Dao. Located just 3 minutes away in Pha Daeng National Park, the entrance is about 100 THB per person for foreigners or 20 THB for Thais.
Wat Tham Pha Plong, the temple in the forest, is another place not to be missed. Despite the 500 steps up to the mountain, it is a light walk and there are many rest stops. Along the way you will find several messages with Buddhist teachings, most translated into English. The way to the temple is colored by a large number of birds, such as the beautiful Asian Paradise Flycatcher and the discrete Violet Cuckoo. Even the most distracted visitor will not fail to notice the variety of Bulbul species.
As we can now drive through Pha Daeng National Park (formerly Chiang Dao National Park), a trip to this bubble of oxygen is not to be missed! The area covers 1,155 square kilometers and it is home to mountainous limestone hills, verdant forest, abundant wildlife animals, rare plants and freshwater sources. The variety of forest types and altitude of this mountain, combined with its close proximity to Myanmar, result in a large number of exciting birds to be seen. Two species are the main target birds for most birders: the Giant Nuthatch and Hume’s Pheasant. Both of these occupy the higher areas of the national park where they are regularly seen. Scaly Thrush is another highly sought-after bird which can be encountered at the higher altitudes.
Other highlights that can be discovered in Pha Daeng National Park include beautiful waterfalls (Si Sangwan, Huai Hok and Pang Tong), Pong Ang hot spring, caves (Pha Chan, Doi Klang Mueang and Huai Cha Khan) as well as some very basic but so much enjoyable bed and breakfast places to stay.
Since September 16th, 2021, Doi Chiang Dao (Chiang Dao Mountain) has been recognized by UNESCO as the world’s latest biosphere reserve. It’s the fifth natural site in Thailand that has been given the prestigious nod. Doi Chiang Dao Biosphere Reserve covers an area of 85,909.04 ha in Chiang Dao, that boasts sub-alpine vegetation and many rare, endangered, and vulnerable species such as the lar gibbon, leaf monkeys, Chinese goral, tiger, and clouded leopard.
Since ever, this majestic Doi Chiang Dao Mountain has had the power to make everyone really feel relaxed. Try it: sit and watch Doi Luang mountain with, as a background, the ever changing blue sky and its clouds parade: your mind can keep dancing all day with the clouds.
Beeing two-hours from Chiang Mai city does not mean you can’t have gourmet dinner at Chiang Dao: check out these two restaurants:
- Thai Cuisine : Alaska Crab Chiang Dao (yes! who would believe Alaska Crab sales that good in Chiang Dao)
- Burgers & Pizzas : Jerns Chiang Dao. The two restaurants are actually on the same road, about 100 meters from each others. Jerns does delivery.
This winter, let’s discover Chiang Dao!
How to get there? Chiang Dao is located north of Chiang Mai and can be reached following highway 107 toward Fang and Tathon. It is an easy and very beautiful road.