Chiang Dao lies above the Menam Ping gorge on the green slopes of Doi Chiang Dao mountain. The name means "City of Stars", and derives from its earlier name Piang Dao, or "(at the) level of the stars". True to the name, limestone peaks reaching a height of 2186 m (7174 ft) make Chiang Dao an impressive area. The village is a quiet little picturesque area, with a quaint Northern Thailand feel.
The nearest major airport is in Chiang Mai. A metered, air conditioned taxi will cost about 1000 - 1200 Baht one-way (~$35US).
The easiest and cheapest way to get in and out of Chiang Dao, is to stay next to, or near Highway 107. Anywhere along side the highway, one can wave down a bus or Songtheaw to either go towards Chiang Mai (40 Baht), or Fang (40 Baht). Buses run quite often (between 6am - 6pm every half hour)
There are buses six times daily from Chiang Mai to Tha Ton, which stop at Chiang Dao along the way. 90 minutes, 40 baht.
You can ask the driver to stop anywhere along the side of the road, which is ofter better than getting off at the Chiang Dao bus stop, where Sontheaw drivers charge 100 Baht or more to take you one-way to a resort.
Most guesthouses can arrange motorcycles for rent for around 200-300 baht/day. This is is one of the cheapest options as there are very few taxis in the town and they employ a price fixing strategy, be prepared to pay 150 baht per ride from one of these regardless of how much you barter.
Taxis usually stay in town close to the 7-11, better to negotiate with taxi drivers directly, instead of asking the guest houses as they mark their prices sometime quite dramatically.
Places, such as Mon and Kurt's Restaurant and Guesthouse, also rent reliable Bicycles and Mountain Bikes(100 Baht per day/24 hours).
TIP: If you are just traveling on the main Highway 107, the Songtheaws that just travel on the main highway, are only 10 Baht within the Chiang Dao Area and all the way to the MuangNgai turnoff, North of town.
Chiang Dao Cave (ถ้ำเชียงดาว Tham Chiang Dao), 5 km off the main highway. The best-known attraction here, offering 12 kilometers of stalactite-laden caves — although only five of the caverns are accessible to the public. Chambers are large but lack spectacular decorations. Entry: electricity fee 40 baht. You can tour the lighted part of the cave alone, or hire a guide with a lantern to view the unlit caverns. It will cost you 100 baht per group (goes to the temple?) plus the guide will expect the tip about 100 baht/person. Bringing your own flashlight is recommended.
Birdwatching Malee's Nature Lovers Bungalows, cater to bird watchers and are very helpful with information, with regards to bird watching.
Hot springs The original Hot Springs,consisted of several small concrete basins fed from a pipe.
A few years ago, the friendly owner, Ura, of Take Restaurant, built two very nice Japanese Gardens, with bamboo gazebos, change room/showers and toilets. There is also a small restaurant on site. The concrete basins, further up the road, are free to use, while the fee for the Japanese Garden, is 100 Baht.
San Phakia is a spot for overnight camping located on the mountain with a fantastic view over Doi Luang Chiang Dao and the valley below. In January good place to see cherry blossom. Tents, sleeping mattresses and blankets available for rent (300 baht/tent). Few bungalows are also available. Access via 24 km dirt road; turn-off from main road at Mae Na. Drivable on the small bike but not on the heavier bikes with street tyres.
Waterfall in Chiang Dao National Park
The town of Chiang Dao is adjacent to Chiang Dao National Park, which covers over 1000 sq.km. of the stunning craggy mountains in the area. Being fairly high up, it's noticeably cooler and drier than on the plains and can get downright cold in the winter. The local flora are semitropical, with extensive bamboo forests and a number of mountain streams and waterfalls. The area is popular for trekking, as in addition to the mountain views there are many Lisu and Karen hill tribe villages scattered in the park.
Doi Luang Chiang Dao (ดอยหลวงเชียงดาว) at 2225m is the highest peak in the area (and the third-highest in all Thailand) and doable as a two-day trip.
Chiang Dao Nest Tours and Trekking,  offers a wide variety of 2-3 day treks in the national park. Small, private groups led by local hill tribe guides, priced at roughly 1000 baht/person/day all-inclusive.
Doi Luang Chiang Dao () is a limestone mountain in the Chiang Dao Wildlife Reserve area, Amphoe Chiang Dao. This cone-shaped mountain is 2,195 metres from sea level, which makes it the third highest mountain in Thailand after Doi Inthanon and Doi Pha Hom Pok. Narrow plains on top of the mountain overlook spectacular views that include a sea of fog on the Amphoe Chiang Dao side, Doi Sam Phi Nong, the Chiang Dao mountain range, and the far end of Doi Inthanon. The peak is cool and windy. It is full of rare highland flowers, birds, and butterflies. Visiting Doi Chiang Dao needs an approval letter from the Director of Wildlife Reserve Division, Royal Forest Department. It must arranged at least 2 weeks before travelling. Call 0 2561 2947 for more information.
Getting there: The peak is accessible on foot. At Chiang Dao cave, guides, porters, and chartered transfers to the starting point of the trail are available. Rented local truck costs around 900 baht and, a porter is 300 baht per person. There are no tourist facilities on Chiang Dao Mountain. Visitors must bring their own sleeping bags, food, and water. If you are a very fit trekker you might be able to climb up and down in one day if you start very early and the locals confirm that. There is a small village with the lodging near the start of the northern trail, easily accessible on the motorbike via paved road.
Descending the mountain is possible on the trail near Ban Tham, which is located near Chiang Dao cave. The trail is rather steep; nevertheless, it could shorten the walking distance upon descending. It is quite difficult to climb up.
Every Tuesday morning the town has a big market with many hilltribe people coming down to trade.
Take Cafe, Japanese restaurant, Run by a Japanese gentleman and his wife on the road between Chiang dow village and the cave very reasonably prices, jovial host and enjoyable budget Japanese food.
Malee's Nature Resort. Close to Chiang Dao Cave. Reasonably priced selection of local Thai and some western foods, makes a great breakfast with fresh home made bread and jams. Cosy garden with great views.
Chiang Dao Nest (western food) and Chiang Dao Nest 2 (Thai food) Take highway 107 North from Chiang Mai towards Fang (Chang Puak Gate from the old city) , At 72km, in Chiang Dao town ,just after the Chiang Dao Inn Hotel, turn left towards Chiang Dao Cave and Malee's. Delicious, fresh, local ingredients, high quality. Worth a stop even if you're not staying at the nest. Beautiful setting in the mountains to boot. (Next to Malee's)
Haniba Coffee. Nice coffee shop opposite PTT gas station. Cheesecakes.
Mon and Kurt's Restaurant and Guesthouse, Chiang Dao, Chiang Mai Province, Northern Thailand (across the street from the Chiang Dao Inn Hotel), ☎ 084-173-9975, . 8am-9pm Tuesday-Sunday. Mon,the owner, serves delicious European, Western, Thai and Vegetarian food, along with her mouth watering cheesecakes. She also brews a great cup of coffee. You may have to wait for a while for your food and it is recommended to make reservations on weekends, because the place is quite popular with local Expats as well as Thai Customers. It is well worth the wait! Fast, free Wi-Fi, air conditioned inside, during hot season. Large selection of imported beers and wines. Foodsave Cert. Pricesmoderate. (N19 22.369,E98 57.964)
Mon and Kurt's offers a good selection of wine and imported beers, along with "Shooters" and "Highballs". They use quality alcohol. (Jose Quervo Especial Tequila, Jack Daniel's, Jaegermeister, Russian Vodka, etc.) They are conveniently located downtown, but close early, at 9pm.
Chiang Dao Nest also has a great selection of Spirits and a nice quiet atmosphere, but there are also a few Thai Karaoke Bars in and around Chiang Dao, for those who are a little more adventerous.
Chiang Dao now offers quite a few guesthouses and resorts, some located right near the Chiang Dao - Fang Highway, others near the bypass or near the cave and mountain temple. There's no luxury accommodation though, since the Baan Krating resort closed in 2007.
Chiang Dao Nest, +66-60171985  run by English/Thai couple Stuart and Wicha is a self-proclaimed mini-resort where the mass goes with views of the mountains around and Thai/Western food. 11 bamboo bungalows with fan, attached bathroom, hot water, from 495 baht/night.Some Thai/Western couples claim to have been harrassed (Thai wives accused of being 'bar girls') by the rather officious Wicha, she can also be very unreasonable with guests when things don't go so well.
Nature Home, is a nice and quiet place, offers nice rooms with private bathrooms for 400 baht/night. The owners are a local couple who speak no English but are very friendly. If you are lucky, you might get some kind of breakfast for free in the morning.
Malee's Nature Lovers Bungalows, +66-819618387  is a nice and quiet place set up in 1995 offers sturdy, well-maintained bungalows with private bathrooms. Cheapest rooms (200 baht) have shared bathroom and a fan. Family and honeymoon suites are also available. The location offers a pool in a cosy garden with views of the surrounding mountains. Free WiFi in the entire resort. There are detailed maps of the area on display and there is a bird sightings log.
Chiang Dao Hut,+66-872081269 firstname.lastname@example.org Chiang Dao Hut is a small, new, cosy, guest house run by a young friendly Thai couple who have had many years of hotel experience in Chiang Mai and speak reasonable English. There are 2 fairly large, simple but clean wooden bungalows (one double, one twin) each with fan, attached bathroom and hot shower. Prices from 380B (low season) to 580B (high). They have a small cafe at the front which is a great place to relax with a latte, fruit shake or some Western or Thai food like pizza, spaghetti, pad thai etc.
Mon and Kurt's Restaurant and Guesthouse, Right Across the Street from the Chiang Dao Inn (Downtown Chiang Dao), ☎ 084-173-9975, . checkin: before 9pm; checkout: 12 Noon. Clean, new, spacious rooms. Comfortable beds with clean, quality sheets and towels. Air Conditioned 500 Baht, Fan room 400 Baht. Conveniently located at the First Class (Bangkok) Bus stop. Free, Hi-Speed Wi-Fi in all the rooms and in the restaurant. Beautiful Mountain views from Rooms and nice garden sitting area, outside the air conditioned restaurant downstairs.400-500 Baht. (N19 22.369,E98 57.964)
orange Buses (every hour, 40 Baht)and orange Songtheaws (every 30 minutes, 40 Baht),pass through Chiang Dao, on Highway 107. You can wave them down anywhere and they will stop for you, if not full already.
VIP (32 Seat Sleeper), First Class, Air Conditioned Bus, leaves at 6:30pm (664 Baht), in Front of Mon and Kurt's Restaurant, for Bangkok. Arrives approx. 5am in Bangkok.
Regular 52 Seat Sleeper bus leaves as follows, in Front of Mon and Kurt's Restaurant (Reserve tickets across the street, at local mini-mart):
Leaves Chiang Dao 8:30am, arrives in Bangkok 8pm. 569 Baht
Leaves Chiang Dao 19:30pm arrives in Bangkok 7am. 569 Baht
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