Huay Nam Dang and Doi Chiang Dao – five days

Difficulty
80%

This tour combines the classic three-day trekking in the Huay Nam Dang National Park with the climb to the summit of Doi Luang Chiang Dao in the UNESCO Chiang Dao Biosphere Reserve. We offer this trip only from November 1 until March 1. It is also on request. The mountain has been closed often over the past few years. We can only confirm this program a couple of weeks before the opening on November 1.

Ideally, the climb to the summit of Doi Luang Chiang Dao should not take place on Saturday and Sunday or on Thai holidays. We will handle this on a case-by-case basis so we can customize the trip if necessary. The climb to the summit is also available as a two-day/one-night trip.

Total approximate driving time:

Day 1 – two hours

Day 2 – none

Day 3 – 45 minutes

Day 4 – 30 minutes

Day 5 – 30 minutes

Guide with tourists in the forest Chiang Mai Jungle Trekking Huai Nam Dang
Huai Nam Dang jungle

Day 1: Chiang Mai – Karen village

Mae Malai local market

Your guide will meet you at the hotel at 0800 for your Huay Nam Dang and Doi Chiang Dao adventure. We will drive to the area where we will start our Huay Nam Dang trekking b. Here you can find more about the history and background of hill tribe trekking in Chiang Mai.

Our first stop will be at the local market at Mae Malai. Here your guide will do his shopping for the coming days. You can join him in this fascinating market. He will explain the different ingredients he will be using for dinner. There are some unusual things for sale at this market.

woman at a market with fruit
Saleswoman on the Mae Malai Market

Mork Fah Waterfall

After Mae Malai, we continue to the beautiful Mork Fah waterfall, where you can have a swim and relax. This waterfall is part of the Doi Suthep Doi Pui National Park. After our wet waterfall experience, we will enjoy a simple but delicious lunch at a roadside restaurant. After lunch, we will continue to the Pong Deuad Hot Springs, where we will start trekking. These hot springs are already in Huay Nam Dang National Park, where our trekking takes place. We will hike for about four hours through the lush forest at a leisure pace. There is time to take a rest and to take pictures.

The trail goes up and down until we reach a plateau covered with huge pine trees. These are the Pinus Kesiya, one of the pine trees native to North Thailand. We take our time to enjoy the fantastic views. After this, we walk down to the Karen village, where we will spend the night.

Mork Fah Waterfall Huay Nam Dang National Park tourists swimming
Mork Fah Waterfall Huay Nam Dang National Park

Overnight in Karen village

After arrival in the village, you can relax, explore the village or learn some Thai cooking by helping your guide prepare the dinner. He can explain the herbs and ingredients he uses. Learn to cook on a woodfire in a wok. It is not easy, but great fun! After dinner, your guide will take you to one of the village houses to meet some of the villagers. We will try to teach you some words in the Karen language. An elementary word to remember is Tablu, a greeting that means “thanks” as well.

Overnight will be in the Karen village.

Day 2: Karen Village – Chiang Mai

Breakfast and trekking

Wake up on the second day of your Huay Nam Dang trekking. Your guide will cook breakfast. After breakfast, we will start trekking into the forest for a trek lasting two to three hours, visiting the rice and vegetable fields of the villages along the way, and learning about the villager’s traditional methods of cultivation. Living in a national park restricts the villagers as far as agriculture is concerned: slash and burn is out of the question. Enjoy the lovely natural beauty. We have all the time in the world for our trekking so stop whenever you want to rest or to take pictures.

Afternoon trekking through the national park

After lunch, you will continue trekking for about two hours to the Karen village of Baan Mae Ma Nai, where we will spend the night. You will also have the chance to fish at Mae Tang River using local tools and learn how to construct a bamboo raft before. The evening is free of planned activities for you to explore or relax at your leisure. You can join your guide again in the kitchen. Cooking on a wood fire is really an art. Walk around the village and chat with the locals. “tablu” is the greeting, which you have learned already.

Man and woman in traditional dress Huai Nam Dang National Park Ethnic Minorities North Thailand Karen Hill Tribe Doi Chiang Dao
Elderly Karen couple in Huai Nam Dang National Park

Day 3: Karen village – rafting – Chiang Dao

The best bamboo rafting in North Thailand

Breakfast at the community. After breakfast, we will trek for out about one hour to the Taeng River (Mae Taeng). Our bamboo rafts are waiting for us. We will provide life jackets. Please wear them and read our bamboo raft policy.

Enjoy a wonderful bamboo raft trip along the Mae Tang River to a Black Lahu village. Here we will stop for a while. Your guide will explain about the Black Lahu people. We will raft to a Shan village where we will have lunch. Drive to the start of your whitewater raft adventure. Enjoy half an hour of rafting in a rubber boat on the Taeng River. This is an entirely different experience on the same river but not less exciting. After this adventure, it is time for relaxation. We will drive to Chiang Dao where we will stay at the lovely Marisa Resort.

Overnight at the Marisa Resort.

Family waiting to go rafting on the Taeng River
Huay Nam Dang rafting with the family

Day 4: Chiang Dao – Doi Luang Chiang Dao

Trekking to the summit of Thailand’s third highest mountain

After breakfast, we will depart from Marisa Resort to the start of our hike up Doi Luang Chiang Dao, which is also known as just Doi Chiang Dao. Last year UNESCO welcome Doi Chiang Dao as a new Biosphere Reserve. This area is home to a variety of wildlife, such as clouded leopards, gibbons, and mountain goats (goral). Don’t count on seeing any of those though on this hike. The trek up the mountain though is fantastic and offers amazing views.

Sunset on Doi Chiang Dao

We will be joined by a local guide and porters.  We will trek up the mountain through the forest and open areas until we have lunch somewhere on the slopes of the mountain. After lunch, we will trek up to Ang Salung. Here we will set up camp. Ang Salung is a short distance from the summit of the mountain. After having set up camp we will hike up to the summit to enjoy the sunset. You are on the top of Thailand’s third-highest mountain. It is time for photographs!

The views are simply magnificent. Return to the camp where we will have dinner. We will camp just below the summit of Doi Chiang Dao.

People watching sunrise Doi Chiang Dao
Sunrise at Doi Luang Chiang Dao

Day 5: Doi Luang Chiang Dao – Chiang Mai

Sunrise on the mountain

Wake up in the dark and hike up to the summit to enjoy sunrise and the sea of fog and clouds, unique to Doi Chiang Dao. We will study plants in the area before we descend to the campsite for breakfast. After breakfast, we will start the descent. We have all the time in the world to enjoy the wonderful natural surrounding and the great views. This morning we will take a slightly different route to Pang Wua. We will enjoy a picnic lunch along the way. The truck will be waiting for us to bring us to the Chiang Dao Cave. It is time to say goodbye to our local guide and porters.

Buddha statues on a mountain
The Buddhist shrines at the Chiang Dao Cave Temple

The holy Chiang Dao Cave Temple

There are many legends and stories related to the Chiang Dao Cave Temple. It is one of the main attractions of Chiang Dao and North Thailand. Besides the cave, there are many other things to see such as the assembly hall of the monk Kruba Srivichai and the chedi with 25 spires. The shrines and chedis of the U Kanta, the Burmese hermit monk, have been overgrown with vegetation but we had them partly cleared last year. The cave itself contains Buddha images and other statues but also stalactites and stalagmites. We will take you through one of three deeper caves, accompanied by a local community guide. Then it is time to return to Chiang Mai. We have you enjoyed our Huay Nam Dang and Doi Chiang Dao adventure.

End of the program

Palm trees rice fields and mountains Doi Chiang Dao
View on Doi Luang Chiang Dao with extensive rice fields

Highlights

Huay Nam Dang National Park

Mork Fah Waterfall

Pong Duad Hot Springs

Jungle trekking

Unspoiled tropical forest

Karen tribal culture

Great food

In-depth jungle and tribal experience

Overnights in homestays in Karen villages

The best bamboo raft adventure on the Mae Taeng (Taeng river)

Inclusions

What is included?

Transportation by trekking truck
Accommodation in the village
Experienced English-speaking trekking guide
Bamboo rafting (about 3-4 hours)
One breakfast, two lunches, and one dinner
Drinking water during meals
Coffee and tea
Entrance fee
Limited medical insurance
Use of sheet bag or sleeping bag
Use of Mosquito net
Use of Backpack (on request)
Toilet paper & Soap
Towel
A flashlight is provided in the village

What is not included?

All drinks except drinking water
Personal expenses
Tips

Timeline

Day 1
08.00 – Departure from hotel
09.00 – Visit a local market
09.45 – Visit the Mork Fah waterfall, opportunity to swim
10.30 – Drive to the Pong Duad Hot Springs
12.00 – Lunch at a local restaurant before arriving at the hot springs
13.00 – Shortstop and relax at the hot springs
13.30 – Start hiking about three to four hours to Karen village
16.30 – Arrival at Karen village where we stay overnight
17.00 – Help guide cooking dinner
18.00 – Dinner at the village before free at leisure

Day 2
09.00 – Visit around the village
09.30 – Start hiking for about four to five hours to another Karen village
12.00 – Picnic lunch in the jungle
14.30 – Arrival at the village, rest and relax
15.00 – Visit around the village, meet local people, and join activities at the village
17.00 – Help guide cooking dinner
18.00 – Dinner at the village before free at leisure

Day 3
08.30 – Start hiking for about one hour to the rafting camp
09.30 – Start bamboo rafting about two to three hours
10.30 – Short stop to visit a Lahu village
12.30 – End of the rafting trip at a Shan village and lunch at the village
14.00 – Drive back to Chiang Mai
16.00 – Drop off at the hotel

What to bring

Short sleeve shirts for the daytime (bring a spare one, just in case)
Long sleeves for the evening (especially in the winter Nov – Feb it can be a bit cold)
Shoes with good grip (especially in the rainy season from May-Sep)
A hat or cap
Raincoat
Sunscreen
Flip flops
Sunglasses
Your personal toiletries
Personal medication
Fully charged batteries or even an extra battery for your camera.
1000-1500 Thai Baht per person in small (not bigger than 500 Thai Baht and plenty of 100 Thai Baht notes). This is for souvenirs, drinks, and tips.