Chiang Dao , Northern Thailand. Chiang Dao, literally translated ‘the City of Stars’, is North of Chiang Mai en route to Fang / Tha Ton. There is more to Chiang Dao than just it’s famous caves. Chiang Dao town centre still has some charming old style wooden shops flanking the highway. The soon to be opened bypass should make it a very pleasant place to visit.
Many of the people around Chiang Dao are involved with agriculture, and most are asleep by 8.00pm! They tend to rise very early for work. The morning market starts at around 3.00am finishing at about 8.00am. It is an interesting to see the locals shopping here. Every Tuesday Chiang Dao has a bustling and colourful market where people from the surrounding area, including many different groups of mountain people (hilltribes) come to buy and sell their wares. Not intended for tourists and well worth experiencing.
While the centre holds some interest the natural beauty is found away from the Highway. The area near and beyond the cave are regarded by many as the most beautiful in Northern Thailand. Doi Luang Chiang Dao Chiang Dao’s most striking feature is Doi Chiang Dao, Thailand’s 3rd highest mountain at 2225m which plays host to an abundance of wildlife and nature. It is one of the lesser-visited, but nonetheless interesting Thai birding sites.
Chiang Dao is an ideal base for people touring the area, whether on foot, cycling, in rented cars, or on motorbikes.
There is a wonderful temple just outside of town in the hills that is worth a visit, just past the caves. There are many stairs to walk to the top to see the temple but the views are a worthwhile reward.
Elephant centres and river rafting are situated close by. A wide variety of hilltribe villages are dotted around the nearby mountains which can be reached independently or as part of a tour or trek. There are also some hiking trails through the forest, or up the mountain.
It is also a great place to unwind. Meditation , relaxing in a hammock, drinking a beer, or reading a book. It’s such a beautiful, peaceful place, doing nothing is always an option.