Chiang Dao, a hidden gem nestled amidst the lush landscapes of Northern Thailand, offers visitors an enchanting retreat from the bustling city life. Known for its spectacular limestone mountains, verdant jungles, and captivating cave systems, Chiang Dao is an adventurer’s paradise. The town’s primary attraction, the magnificent Chiang Dao Cave, invites explorers to delve into its mystic chambers adorned with ancient stalactites and stalagmites. In addition to its natural wonders, Chiang Dao is home to thriving hill tribe communities, serene hot springs, and picturesque hiking trails, ensuring a diverse array of experiences for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in the region’s rich culture and breathtaking scenery.
If you are traveling to Doi Ang Khang or Mae Salong from Chiang Mai, you will definitely pass by Chiang Dao town on your way. Why not take in the sights of this town and around while also visiting the village of Yunnan settlers from China on both sides of the Thai-Burmese border?
Chiang Dao is well known for its ancient temples, such as Wat Tham Chiang Dao and Wat Tham Pha Plong. While the temples are a marvel for tourists, the town is also well known for its hot springs, Chiang Dao cave, flower gardens, and wildlife sanctuaries, among many more attractions.
Located in the mountains of northern Thailand, this small town is a hidden gem that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, ancient temples, and outdoor adventures. So if you’re planning a trip soon and seeking exciting activities to add to your itinerary, you’re in luck! Our guide covers 17 of Chiang Dao’s finest attractions and activities.
Chiang Dao (Google Map) is a small town located in the mountains of northern Thailand, just north of Chiang Mai. Originally a city-state in the Lan Na Kingdom, Chiang Dao was later made a district of Chiang Mai Province as part of the Thesaphiban administrative reforms in the late 19th century. Originally a Tambon (sub-district), it was upgraded to an Amphoe (district) in 1908.
In addition to its rich history, Chiang Dao town is known for its beautiful natural surroundings and various exciting activities and attractions.
We’ve also included information on each attraction’s cultural significance and highlights. So get ready to explore all Chiang Dao offers and start planning your trip today!
Chiang Dao Cave is a must-see attraction for any cave enthusiast visiting the Chiang Dao area. This series of interconnected caverns are filled with stunning stalactites and stalagmites, which have formed spontaneously over time to create a variety of shapes and formations.
In addition to the cave’s natural beauty, Chiang Dao Cave also has a rich history and many fascinating legends. One story tells of a man who lived in the cave for 1000 years, another of a soldier who fell on bad luck after stealing from it, and another of hidden secrets hidden in its darkest depths.
Here in the cave you will also find Wat Tham Chiang Dao. In addition to the cave’s natural beauty, Wat Tham Chiang Dao is also known for its rich history and fascinating legends. One legend says that Chao Luang Kham Daeng, a son of the ruler of Phayao, followed a golden stag into the cave and never returned. He is, instead, believed to have become a powerful spirit guarding the cave, which is why a shrine was built to honor him.
The temple is also home to the Tanjai Buddha image, which is believed to fulfill wishes quickly if the wish is made with the image in mind. As well as these legends, the temple attracts many foreign and Thai tourists with its cold, clear water, fish, beautiful plants, and cool, calming atmosphere.
Whether you’re a seasoned cave explorer or simply looking to learn more about the history and legends of Chiang Dao, this is an attraction you won’t want to miss.
Doi Luang Chiang Dao (Google Map) is a must-see attraction for any outdoor enthusiast visiting the Chiang Dao area. Standing at a towering 2,225 meters, it is the highest mountain in the Chiang Dao district and the third-highest mountain in Thailand.
From the narrow plains on top of the mountain, you can see a sea of fog on the Amphoe Chiang Dao side, the Doi Sam Phi Nong mountain range, and the far end of Doi Inthanon. The peak is cool and windy and is full of birds, butterflies, and rare highland flowers.
The mountain is accessible on foot, and guides, porters, and chartered transfers to the trail’s starting point are available. However, there are no tourist facilities past the Chiang Dao Mountain Viewpoint, so visitors must bring their own food, water, and sleeping bags.
Nevertheless, the mountain is a popular destination for hikers and rock climbers and offers an unforgettable outdoor experience. So don’t miss the chance to climb to the top of Doi Luang Chiang Dao and experience the beauty of this stunning mountain.
If hiking is not for you, then located at the foot of the majestic Doi Luang Chiang Dao mountain, Ban Na Lao Mai (Google Map) is a must-see destination for tourists in Chiang Dao. This beautiful small spot offers a stunning view of the mountain, with its clouds slowly floating over the top. Visitors can order a cup of coffee or tea and sit down at one of the tables to take in the breathtaking views.
But the beauty of Ban Na Lao Mai doesn’t stop there. In addition to its stunning views, this small spot also offers the chance to book a bungalow or tent for a unique and unforgettable overnight stay. So plan your visit to Ban Na Lao Mai for a “slower” take on Chiang Dao and soak in the stunning views of Doi Luang Chiang Dao. You won’t be disappointed.
Nestled in the thick wildernesses and abundant flora of the Chiang Dao area, Wat Tham Pha Plong (Google Map) is a stunning forest temple that is well worth a visit. The temple’s golden pagoda is visible from a distance, and the climb up the 500 steps to the temple is rewarded with a peaceful atmosphere and a magnificent view.
The parking area for the temple is located approximately a mile past the Chiang Dao lodges on the road. Luang Pu Sim‘s meditation spot lies in the forest, and visitors can see the Dhamma words of wisdom that have been carved into the trees by following the naga staircase through a rocky crevice. At the top of the temple, visitors can explore a cave where monks used to study and pray.
Overall, with its golden pagoda, naga staircase, and peaceful meditation spot amidst the forest fit for all nature lovers, Wat Tham Pha Plong is a unique attraction that should not be missed.
Located in the Chiang Dao, Chai Prakan, and Wiang Haeng districts of Chiang Mai, Pha Daeng National Park (Google Map), also known as Chiang Dao wildlife sanctuary, covers an expansive 445 square miles of rocky limestone hills and luxuriant forests. The park is home to various wildlife, freshwater sources, and rare plants, including the headwaters of the Ping River, one of the four major rivers in Northern Thailand.
Doi Puk Phak Ka, the park’s highest peak, rises 1,794 meters above sea level and offers panoramic views. Other attractions in the park include the wildlife sanctuary, Huai Hok, Si Sangwan, and Pang Tong waterfalls, Pha Chan, Pong Ang hot springs, Huai Cha Khan caves, and Doi Klang Mueang, as well as Doi Pha Tang. Their Facebook page has over 30 thousand likes and followers, with photos proving plenty to see and do.
Nestled in the picturesque hills of Chiang Dao, the San Pa Kia Highland Agricultural Research Station (Google Map) is an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts. From its vantage point, visitors can enjoy stunning views of the Doi Luang Chiang Dao mountain range and catch glimpses of various birds, including Japanese Tits, orange-bellied leafbirds, silver-eared mesias, and velvet-fronted nuthatches.
During the winter months, the station is blanketed in an ocean of mist in the morning and illuminated by the twinkling lights of Chiang Dao city at night.
In addition to its natural beauty, the station also offers camping facilities and cottages (though visitors must bring their own tents, bedding, and food and bin bags for the cottages). It’s a must-see destination for anyone looking to immerse themselves in the natural wonders of Chiang Dao.
Ready to wake up with the sun and see the beautiful sunrise over Chiang Dao? Den TV Viewpoint (Google Map) is the place to be! This popular viewpoint got its name because it was originally a spot where villagers would bring their TVs to watch their favorite shows. But now, it’s the perfect place to catch the sunrise and see the stunning view of Doi Luang Chiang Dao. Don’t worry about making the treacherous drive up yourself – just book a stay at one of the homestays in the area, and they’ll take you there to see the great views.
The recommended time to visit is between 5:30 and 8:00 am, as this is when the sun rises and the mist is at its most beautiful. Believe me, this breathtaking experience will be worth the early wake-up call. So grab your camera and head to Den TV for an unforgettable sunrise in Chiang Dao!
Experience the beauty and tranquility of Nisachon Grape Garden (Google Map), a family-owned farm located in the picturesque Chiang Dao region. Known for its grape production and wine making, visitors can taste and learn about various grapes. But that’s not all – this nature-friendly paradise offers plenty of activities for all ages.
Take a leisurely stroll through the gardens, marvel at the unique decor that blends the style of camping with the lush greenery of the forest, or feed the fish in the river that runs through the property. And don’t forget to snap some Instagram-worthy shots on the creamy white canvas walkway that leads to the residential zone.
Stay for a while, relax in peaceful surroundings, or visit the garden’s restaurant for a delicious meal. Check out their Facebook page for more inspiration, and be sure to book in advance for the best rates and facilities. Nisachon Grape Garden – where peace and beauty meet.
Nestled in the lush hills of Chiang Dao, Doi Mae Taman (Google Map) is a small village that boasts stunning scenery and a peaceful atmosphere. This hidden gem is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers looking to enjoy activities like hiking and birdwatching and those interested in learning about local culture.
At Doi Mae Taman, you can participate in traditional activities like rice planting and harvesting, all while taking in the wonderful views of the surrounding area. This is the perfect destination for a relaxing getaway with options for lodging and camping.
Nuzzled in the rolling hills of Chiang Dao, the Pink Lotus Garden at Chom Khiri (Google Map) is a stunning oasis of natural beauty. Surrounded by various colorful flowers and plants, the garden is a popular destination for locals and tourists looking to escape the busy city life.
Take a tranquil stroll through the garden and soak in the peaceful atmosphere and gorgeous surroundings. In addition to its beauty, the Pink Lotus Garden is also an important learning center for organic farming in the area. Visit the garden and discover the benefits of sustainable, non-chemical farming techniques.
Doi Kham Fah (Google Map) is a mountain located in the Chiang Dao area, known for its incredible views and exciting outdoor recreational opportunities. The mountain is a prevalent destination for hikers and rock climbers, offering a variety of trails and routes for all skill levels.
Visitors can enjoy the fresh mountain air and take in the gorgeous views of the surrounding landscape while participating in activities like hiking, rock climbing, and birdwatching.
With various accommodation options, including a large house that can accommodate up to fifteen people and camping sites, Doi Kham Fah is a great destination for a peaceful and nature-filled getaway. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the breathtaking views from the summit of Doi Kham Fah.
The King Naresuan Stupa (Google Map) is located in the peaceful town of Chiang Dao, a beautiful Buddhist monument honoring the great King Naresuan. Built by the locals to mark the stopover of the king before he led his army to victory against the Burmese, this stupa is a symbol of pride and respect for the legendary king.
Visitors can marvel at the stunning octagonal base and the towering statue of King Naresuan, as well as learn about the history and cultural significance of the stupa through the engraved tablets and replicas of the king’s army camp on site.
Take a moment to reflect and find inner peace in the calming atmosphere of the stupa, and perhaps even participate in traditional Buddhist rituals and ceremonies. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to pay tribute to the heroic King Naresuan at the King Naresuan Stupa.
Settled in the breathtaking Chiang Dao area, Wat Phra That Doi Mon Ching (Google Map) is a Buddhist temple that captivates visitors with its stunning views and peaceful atmosphere. Visitors can participate in various activities and rituals while taking in beautiful surroundings.
One highlight of the temple is the replica of Phra That In Hang, a golden Buddha enshrined on a cliff. The surrounding area offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and provides a peaceful and serene atmosphere to experience.
In addition to Phra That In Hang, Wat Phra That Doi Mon Ching also boasts a beautiful golden pagoda, Phra Chedi Thong, and a Dhamma hall decorated with stunning Tai Yai style Buddhist art. Visitors can also pay their respects to Thep Thanjai, a demigod revered by both Thai and Myanmar people.
With its rich cultural and historical significance, Wat Phra That Doi Mon Ching is a must-see destination for any visitor to the Chiang Dao area.
The Pong Arng Hot Spring (Google Map) is a natural oasis located in the beautiful Chiang Dao area, known for its therapeutic properties and peaceful atmosphere. Visitors can soak in the warm, mineral-rich waters and let all their stress and tension melt away.
With two large public hot spring baths to choose from, you can find the perfect temperature to suit your preferences. The hot spring is surrounded by lush greenery and the sound of birds singing, creating a truly serene and relaxing experience. Escape the daily grind and experience the revitalizing benefits of the Pong Arng Hot Spring.
Escape the noise and crowds and discover the natural beauty of Sri Sangwan Waterfall (Google Map), located in the Chiang Dao area of Pha Daeng National Park. This medium-sized limestone waterfall, with its four levels of cascading water, offers the perfect spot for swimming and picnicking amid nature.
Follow the 2 km nature trail through the mixed deciduous and deciduous forests, with their diverse plant and orchid species, and end at a viewing pavilion with stunning views of the complex mountain ranges, including Doi Luang Chiang Dao. Camp among the large plants and bamboo forest, and soak up the peaceful atmosphere of this hidden gem.
Arunothai Village (Google Map) is a village of Yunnan settlers located in the beautiful Chiang Dao area with a rich culture and history. This charming village is a popular destination for those interested in learning about traditional life and participating in rice planting and harvesting activities.
In recent years, the population of Arunothai has more than doubled, with a mix of ethnicities, including local tribal minorities and Chinese migrants from Yunnan Province.
If you’re visiting Arunothai, be sure to check out the morning market and try some delicious wanton noodles at local stalls or restaurants. You can also visit the temple, which helps underprivileged children, and where you can admire the Thai Yai-style art found throughout the temple.
For authentic Yunnanese cuisine, head to Tayong Yunnan Noodle Cafe
Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in traditional Thai culture or just relax in a peaceful, natural setting, Arunothai Village is a worthwhile destination.
After exploring Chiang Dao, it’s time to head to Chiang Mai’s neighboring province of Chiang Rai.
Trekking Doi Chiang Dao is a popular activity for tourists visiting northern Thailand. There are various routes to the summit, ranging in difficulty from easy to challenging. Visitors can choose to trek alone or with a guide, but it is recommended to have a guide for safety reasons.
The trek to the summit of Doi Chiang Dao offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape, including the lush jungle and nearby mountains. The trek can take anywhere from a few hours to a full day, depending on the chosen route and pace.
Visitors to Doi Chiang Dao should be prepared for the trek with proper hiking gear, including sturdy shoes, a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water. It is also recommended to bring snacks and a first aid kit. Visitors should respect the natural environment and take care not to disturb the local wildlife or flora.
As you consider a journey to Chiang Dao, a serene gem in Northern Thailand, it’s essential to weave through the intricate fabric of its pros and cons, understanding how its charms and challenges paint a unique travel experience.
1. Mystical Caves and Natural Wonders: The star attraction, Chiang Dao Cave, extends deep into the mountain, offering a fascinating exploration of stalactites, stalagmites, and Buddhist shrines. The surrounding landscape, adorned with lush forests and towering mountains, is a paradise for nature lovers.
2. Cultural Richness: Chiang Dao is a mosaic of cultural experiences. From the hill tribes with their rich heritage to the tranquil Buddhist monasteries like Wat Tham Pha Plong, nestled in the forested hills, the area is steeped in traditions and spiritual serenity.
3. Trekker’s Haven: For those seeking adventure, the trails around Chiang Dao offer breathtaking treks. The hike to Doi Chiang Dao, Thailand’s third highest peak, is a particularly rewarding challenge for avid trekkers.
4. Bird Watching and Wildlife: This region is a haven for bird enthusiasts, boasting a diverse array of bird species. The dense forests also offer a chance to encounter unique wildlife in their natural habitat.
5. Authentic Local Experiences: The local markets, humble eateries, and community interactions in Chiang Dao provide an authentic glimpse into Northern Thai life, far from the commercial tourist trails.
1. Accessibility Issues: Reaching Chiang Dao can be less straightforward compared to other tourist spots in Thailand. Limited public transport options mean travelers often have to rely on private taxis or rental cars.
If you prefer to rent a car, including the option to return the rental car to a rental location in another city, we recommend that you compare car rental rates in Chiang Mai and Chiang Dao. Prices may differ by half or more.
2. Language Barrier: English proficiency is limited among locals, which might pose challenges in communication, especially in remote areas or smaller establishments.
3. Accommodation Options: While there are charming guesthouses and homestays, those looking for luxury resorts or a wide range of western-style hotels might find the options limited.
4. Seasonal Limitations: The monsoon season can dampen outdoor activities with heavy rainfall, while the dry season brings its own challenges with higher temperatures and occasional haze.
5. Rural Setting: The rural charm of Chiang Dao also means fewer amenities. This includes limited banking services, fewer healthcare facilities, and a reliance on cash transactions.
In essence, a visit to Chiang Dao is an immersion into the heart of nature and culture, a step back from the bustling city life into a world where the rhythms of nature dictate life. It’s a destination that beckons the soul seeking tranquility and adventure, albeit with the rustic simplicity of rural Thailand.
The Chiang Dao area is full of stunning natural and cultural wonders that are sure to captivate and enthrall visitors. From the peaceful and rejuvenating waters of the Pong Arng Hot Spring to the mysteries and legends to discover in Chiang Dao’s caves, there is something for everyone to enjoy. So if you’re planning a trip soon, be sure to add a few of these attractions to your itinerary!
If you return from Mae Salong to Chiang Mai on the road passing through Chai Prakarn and Chiang Dao, you can visit Hinoki Land.
Chiang Dao is worth a visit for its beautiful natural scenery, vibrant culture, and interesting activities. The area around Chiang Dao is full of sights to explore, with green valleys, majestic mountains, and lush forests. In addition, there are plenty of cultural attractions such as temples, caves, and hot springs. Finally, there are many fun outdoor activities, from rafting and trekking to bird-watching and elephant rides.
It depends on how much time you want to spend exploring Chiang Dao. Generally speaking, it should take at least one full days to explore the town and its attractions thoroughly.
The best way to get from Chiang Dao to Pai is by taking a minibus or shared van, which takes around 3-4 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus or private car, though these tend to be more expensive.
The easiest way to get from Chiang Mai to Chiang Dao is by taking a bus. The bus station is located at Chang Puak Gate, and there are multiple buses running between the two cities throughout the day. The ticket costs about 100 baht. The price may vary depending on the type of bus and the route it takes. You can also rent a motorbike or scooter for your trip in our rental shop.
Chiang Dao is approximately 82 kilometers from Chiang Mai, and the journey takes about two hours by car.
Chiang Dao mountain is 2,175 meters (7,136 feet) high. It is the third highest mountain in Thailand.
Chiang Dao, also known as “City of Stars”, is named for its highest peak, Doi Chiang Dao. This region has a rich history rooted in the Lanna Kingdom and is home to various ethnic hill tribes, each with unique cultures and traditions.
The best time to visit Chiang Dao is during the cool season, from November to February, when the weather is most pleasant for outdoor activities. Also, many local festivals take place during these months.
The limestone peak of Doi Chiang Dao, the stunning Chiang Dao Cave, and the serene hot springs are a must-see. The area is also known for its national parks and birdwatching opportunities.
The hike to the summit of Doi Chiang Dao is challenging, often taking two days with an overnight camp. It requires a good level of fitness, but the panoramic views from the top are worth the effort.
Yes, guided tours are available for both. They often provide a deeper understanding of the region’s geology and ecology, plus the benefit of experienced guides for safety and navigation.
The sanctuary is a haven for birdwatchers, home to many rare and colorful species. Other wildlife, including various mammals and reptiles, also inhabit the area.
Accommodations range from luxury resorts to homestays. Chiang Dao Nest, Azalea Village, and Marisa Resort are well-known for their beautiful settings amidst nature.
Respect local customs and traditions, especially when visiting religious sites. Dress modestly, remove shoes when entering temples or homes, and avoid touching anyone’s head, as it’s considered sacred in Thai culture.
Motorbikes can be rented for local exploration. For longer distances, hiring a taxi or a songthaew (shared taxi) is recommended. Car rental is also available if you prefer self-drive.
Families can enjoy exploring the Chiang Dao Cave, relaxing at the hot springs, visiting local farms and markets, and learning about local cultures in hill tribe villages.
The Tuesday market is a lesser-known spot where hill tribes sell local produce and crafts. The Sri Sungwan waterfall, although a bit off the beaten path, is a great place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of Chiang Dao. For a unique cultural experience, consider visiting a local hill tribe village to learn more about their lifestyle and traditions. Please keep in mind to visit these communities respectfully and preferably with a local guide who can facilitate communication and understanding.
Check out our prices for renting automatic scooters and maxi-scooters, semi-automatic motorbikes, and motorcycles with manual gear.
If you prefer to rent a car, including the option to return the rental car to a rental location in another city, we recommend that you compare car rental rates in Chiang Mai. Prices may differ by half or more.
If you find inaccuracies in the text or want to add interesting information for our readers, feel free to message us at any time.
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