Day 1: Chiang Mai – Chiang Dao
Doi Luang Chiang Dao, Thailand’s third-highest mountain
Your guide and driver will meet you at the hotel at 0800 for your Chiang Dao Tour. Our destination today is Chiang Dao, north of Chiang Mai. Mae Malai is an attractive local market where we will do some shopping here in the coming days. You can join your guide or wander around on your own. We will continue our drive to Chiang Dao. This small town is known for Doi Luang Chiang Dao, an enormous limestone mountain that dominates the landscape. It is Thailand’s third-highest mountain, which UNESCO approved as a Biosphere Reserve in 2021.
Trekking through the forest
We will continue to the Palong village Pang Daen Nai, where we start our morning hike. We will trek through the protected community forest. It is a comfortable and relaxing hike through mixed deciduous and bamboo forests. The trail is not flat, but everyone in reasonable shape can do this. We will walk mainly in the shade until we reach the first plantations and agricultural fields of the tribal communities who live in this area. We will pass through fruit plantations, cornfields, and patches of forest. In the distance, we can see the mountains of the Sri Lanna National Park.
Cooking with the Palong people
Mae Chon is a village of the Dara-ang (Silver Palong) people. After short introductions, we will show you the traditional rice pounder that Green Trails donated to the village. Then it is time to prepare lunch in the kitchen of Lung Bun, the owner of the house. If you wish, you can help your guide prepare lunch in a wok on a wood fire. He will teach you some of his cooking skills. Over lunch, we will try to teach you some words in the Palong language. After lunch, you can practice your newly acquired language skills with some of the villagers. It is fun! Then we will meet the weavers of the village. It will allow your guide to show you the beautiful traditional dress of this ethnic group.
After this, we will hike to the village Huay Pong, where Palong and Red Lahu people live together in harmony. It is a nice and easy walk of about one hour with nice views of the surrounding fields and mountains. At the village, we will visit a Lahu spirit temple, which is quite unique.
Then we will drive to Chiang Dao, where we will stay in the Marisa Resort, set in a forest. Enjoy the swimming pool before you can have dinner on your own in the restaurant of the resort.
Overnight at Marisa Resort
Day 2: Chiang Dao – Chiang Mai
The beautiful Sri Sangwang waterfalls
We’ll enjoy an early breakfast after having been woken up by the sounds of the village. Enjoy the morning view of the forest with a cup of coffee. Then we will continue our Chiang Dao Tour. We head for the Sri Sangwang waterfalls in Pha Daeng National Park. The Sri Sangwang waterfalls are “sticky” waterfalls because the limestone surface is not slippery. At this lovely spot, we will spend some time swimming and relaxing. Nearby are the Hot Springs, which we also will visit. Not far from the waterfalls is a remarkable temple.
Chiang Dao’s Golden Rock
Perched on a small hill is the Wat Phra That Doi Mon Ching, a Shan (Tai Yai) temple. We have a great view of Doi Luang Chiang Dao from this temple, the third highest mountain of Thailand (2175m). The Golden Rock in Mon State, Myanmar, inspired the design of this temple. Few monks are living at this small temple. Then it is time for lunch at one of our favorite restaurants from where you have a lovely view of Doi Luang Chiang Dao and the surrounding countryside.
The sacred Chiang Dao Cave
The Chiang Dao Cave has been a sacred place for Thai people for hundreds of years. This limestone cave in Doi Luang Chiang Dao is associated with legends, stories, and holy men. We explore the main cavern as well as one of the connected caves. A local guide from the community will accompany us with a gas lamp. Around the cave, there are many other things to see, such as pavilions with statues of monks, the assembly hall of the monk Kruba Srivichai and the Buddhist shrines of the Burmese hermit U Kanta. In 2021 we have funded the maintenance of these shrines.
The last place we will visit today is Wat Tham Pla Pong, a cave temple carved into the mountain. We walk up many steps to this highly revered sanctuary from where we have a nice view of the surrounding countryside. The monk Luang Poo Sim Phuthajaro established this cave temple in 1967. He was a follower of the forest monk Phra Ajaan Mun Bhuridatta Mahathera. A temple at Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai is dedicated to this famous monk.
Then it is time to drive back to Chiang Mai. We hope you enjoyed our Chiang Dao Tour.