Welcome to Thai Holiday Guide’s list of things to do in Chiang Dao! Located in the Chiang Mai province of Thailand, Chiang Dao is a small town that is surrounded by natural beauty and offers a range of activities for visitors. From exploring the Chiang Dao Cave to hiking the trails of Doi Chiang Dao, there is no shortage of things to do in this region. Whether you’re interested in outdoor activities, cultural experiences, or just want to relax and take in the beauty of the area, Chiang Dao has something for everyone. Keep reading to discover the top things to do in Chiang Dao, Thailand.
Visit the Chiang Dao Cave
Visit the well-known Chiang Dao Cave. Hire a cave guide (with a lantern) to take you on a fascinating loop, highlighting various formations along the way.
Fun for the whole family, but some of the smaller holes require some agility to navigate. There is also a lit area that can be visited without a guide.
Hike Doi Luang Mountain
The big mountain in Chiang Dao is known as Doi Luang Chiang Dao. It is home to a diverse range of wildlife, birds, flora, and fauna, as well as a number of hilltribe villages. The mountain also lends itself to a variety of activities. Many people enjoy trekking to the top of this mountain (assuming the National Park manages issues around sanitation, and rubbish, at the camping area beneath the summit). There are numerous other hiking trails that are probably best done with the assistance of local guides. Birdwatching is especially rewarding near its southernmost ranger station, Den Ya Khat (DYK). Cycling the trail to DYK or Pha Kia, or along the paved road to Nalao Mai or Muang Khong, is exciting, challenging, and enjoyable.
Visit Wat Tham Pha Phlong Temple
On the side of the Doi Luang Chiang Dao mountain is a magnificent cave temple or monastery.
To reach the chedi’s summit, there are about 500 steps. You have fantastic views of the valley and neighboring mountains from the summit. It can also be a fantastic location for birdwatching.
A trip to Wat Tham Pha Phlong combines Buddhism, the outdoors, and exercise and is unquestionably one of the region’s highlights.
Relax at Chiang Dao Hot Springs
These hot springs, a local favorite, are free to visit and open to everyone.
Various concrete tubs are connected to one another. A basic system of pipes transports hot water from the mountains to these tubs. The temperature of these tubs changes as water flows from one to the next. You can start by sitting in the one with the cooler temperature before moving gradually to the one with the direct water supply.
You can simply stroll to the Mae Ka water stream for a clean water bath after taking a bath in the hot spring water inside the tubs. Take a slow dip because the cold stream water will cause your body temperature to suddenly change. Once your body adjusts to the temperature change, you’ll love lying down in the stream.
Hike the Chiang Dao Nature Trail
The nature trail is clearly marked and appropriate for most people (assuming a reasonable level of agility and fitness – children 10 years and up can do it without a problem). During the rainy season, it can become muddy, dangerous, and slippery in some places, but it is still feasible.
Take a Day Trip Around the Region
You can take a motorbike or car ride around the area. Here are some suggestions to make a day of it.
An expansive Chinese, ex-KMT Yunnanese village can be found about 45 kilometers north of Chiang Dao, close to the Myanmar border. Chinese architecture, Mandarin speakers, and signs in Chinese are notable features.
The Tayong Yunnan Noodlle shop is the real draw, despite the village’s average level of interest. Naturally, it offers highly regarded noodle soup in addition to a few other specialties, like delectable kyoza.
Definitely worthwhile to include as a part of a day trip to the nearby Pha Daeng National Park (Sri Sangwan Waterfall and Pong Arng Hot Spring).
Sri Sangwan Waterfall
Especially during the warmer months, spending time at the Sri Sangwan waterfall is a pleasure. Though there is some danger, it is surprisingly simple and relatively safe for children (and adults!) to climb up and down the waterfall. There are also a few somewhat shallow swimming holes. The Pong Arng Hot Springs are included in the entrance fee for the Pha Daeng National Park, which also includes the waterfall.
Pong Arng Hot Springs
A very well laid out attraction. You can see the pools where the hot springs actually originate (extremely hot – not recommended to even test with a finger or toe!), and then relax in one of the two large public hot spring baths, according to your temperature preference. Seems to be well maintained most of the time.
Yang Phu To Hot Springs
These hot springs are divided into two sections. The first is a public area with concrete rings that have hot spring water flowing through them to form individual upright baths. These are not very aesthetically pleasing and are frequently crowded, but they are free! There are a couple of private hot spring pools that you can rent for an hour before you get to the public ones. These are very nice, and the upkeep and cleanliness are excellent. It is usually best to book these in advance. A small Karen Hill Tribe Village is also located near the hot springs.
Visit the Chiang Dao Tuesday Market
If you happen to be in Chiang Dao on a Tuesday, you should check out the morning market. This massive flea market is set up for about a half kilometer on either side of Route 107 (one of the main roads that runs through Chiang Dao).
Thai (sized and styled) clothing and accessories, household and healthcare items, dried goods and kitchenware are all available. There are produce stalls as well as vendors selling ready-made snacks and cold beverages. Local hill tribes come here to sell their handcrafted goods and produce.
Visit Ban Mueang Khong
Mueang Khong is a small village near Chiang Dao. To get to this town on the other side of the mountain, take a scenic drive through the mountains.
Previously, it was only a stopover or overnight stop for people traveling from somewhere else. This community is now well-known as yet another tourist attraction in the district. There are homestays, coffee shops, and paddy fields where visitors can check in and take photos.
It has interestingly adapted to tourism and has a lovely, laid-back vibe. It’s becoming more popular, and you can see why when you see the natural beauty and charm of this place.
Go Bamboo Rafting on the River Ping
Bamboo rafting is one of the most enjoyable activities in Chiang Dao. Think gentle water floating rather than wild water rafting. Allow your guide to navigate the Ping River while you relax and take in the sights of jungle riverside life. Trips can range from a one-hour cruise to an overnight stay in a hill tribe village.
Kayak from Chiang Mai to Chiang Dao
Kayak down the Ping River and admire the lush nature of the beautiful Chiang Dao valley. Paddle past orchards, rice paddies, corn fields and rolling hills in the shadow of the Chiang Dao mountain. You will see everyday local life, get back to peaceful nature and learn to handle river currents with an experienced instructor.
This is a one day trip that will pick you up at your hotel in Chiang Mai, and then take in stunning views of the countryside as you make your way towards the Chiang Dao mountain and Ping River. Gear up with the provided kayak gear upon arrival, and get basic tuition from an instructor about how to handle the boat on the water. Then, paddle on clear spring waters through the valley, and learn a few new tricks as you are greeted with beautiful vistas at almost every bend in the river. Soak up the relaxed pace of life as you encounter locals making a living by fishing and farming the land on the side of the river. Head back to Chiang Mai and get dropped off at your hotel at the end of the day.
Whether you’re interested in outdoor activities, cultural experiences, or just want to relax and take in the natural beauty of the area, Chiang Dao has something for everyone. So why not add it to your list of destinations to visit on your next trip to Thailand?
We hope that this list of things to do in Chiang Dao has inspired you to plan your own trip to this beautiful region.