Chiang Dao - City of Stars

Chiang Dao Travel Blog

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Doi (mountain) Angkhang is right next to Myanmar. The weather is cool all year round.
Chiang Dao - City of Stars, really does live up to its name, at least in terms of stars. Away from the bright lights of the city, there are plenty of stars to light up the night sky. People goes to Chiang Dao to relax and to enjoy nature. There are a lot of attractions and activities in the area such as trekking, visiting Chiang Dao Caves, and eating some wonderful food! You can spend your time just relaxing at the resort, enjoying the cool mountain air, or get out there and explore. Only about 1 hour from Chiang Mai, it's perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway.

We went on a little family vacation (2 days 1 night) to Chiang Dao.
Beautiful flowers from Doi Angkhang Agricultural Development Centre
This is what we did:

Doi Angkhang (Fang District, Chiang Mai) - not exactly Chiang Dao, but just a bit further north.

From Chiang Mai, we decided first to visit Doi (mountain) Angkhang, approximately 3.5 hours north of Chiang Mai town and around 1.5 hours north of Chiang Dao. The road up Doi Angkhang is very steep and there are a few steep hair-pin turns, but quite spectacular. If you decide to drive yourself, please be very careful driving down as many people have burnt their breaks coming down the mountain. In fact, there is a couple of traffic officers stationed after the first hair-pin turn to stop cars with smoke billowing out of their wheels as they head down (as well as a strategically placed fruit stall!). Alternatively, a car with professional driver can be organized, and the price is not much more than you would pay to hire a car and drive yourself.
Beautiful hill tribe bag in a market at Doi Angkhang.

Doi Angkhang actually borders right onto Burma, and at an elevation of 1,939m, is Thailand's 6th tallest mountain, and is cool all year round, with the average temperature being 17 degrees celcius. One of the main attractions at Doi Angkhang is the Royal Agricultural Station - the first research station of the Royal Project established by the king and queen to help promote crop substitution to hill tribe farmers. The farmers used to grow tea and opium, now they grow tea, organic vegetables, flowers and fruit crops. Today, the the Doi Angkhang Research Station does research into growing temperate climate fruits, flowers, vegetables and medicinal plants, and can be visited.

There is also a very interesting Hill tribe market right on top of the mountain in front of the Research Station.
View of Doi (mountain) Luang (left) and Doi Nang (right) from a nature trail at Marisa Resort in Chiang Dao - about an hour north of Chiang Mai.
As Doi Angkhang is home to various hill tribe groups, the market sells hilltribe handicraft products, fruits, vegetables and freshly prepared food. The vendors are very friendly, and if you ask, they are very happy to let you have a taste of their cooking before you buy.

We had lunch at a "local" Yunanese Restaurant. Every dish was delicious, one of the reasons, no doubt, being the fresh produces from the mountain. The stir-fried chicken with ginseng leaves was very nice, Black Chicken and Gingseng soup (also very good), and Yunanese BBQ pork from a stall in the market. The BBQ pork was marinated with ginger, lemongrass, ginger and ginseng, and was one of the most delicious roast pork I've ever eaten. It was worth going all the way just for the pork alone!

Marisa Boutique Resort & Spa, Chiang Dao

After a very satisfying lunch and visit to the Doi Angkhang Research Station (a couple of hours could be spent there), we returned to Chiang Dao and checked in at Marisa Resort.
Bungalows at Marisa Resort
It turned out to be a good choice, and I would probably describe it as a "nature" resort even though the "jungle" is really a very nice garden with lots of beautiful trees.

Marisa Resort has extensive grounds complete with lots of trees, lovely gardens, streams and a small lake. Guests live in comfortable beautiful wooden Thai houses, and the rooms are very clean. What I love most about the resort is that we are able to roam the grounds, enjoying the gardens and fantastic views of nearby mountains. One downside was that the hot water system wasn't working when we were there, so we had to take lukewarm showers in the cold weather - but I believe the problem is being looked at.

As the resort provides 2-3 bedrooms villas and bungalows, it is very family friendly. In fact, there were a lot of families with children staying at the resort and the children were having a great time roaming the grounds and riding on bikes around the resort.
Grilled chicken with blue vein cheese on creamy pasta from Chiang Dao Nest 1 - Yum!
Please don't be put off though, if you are a couple on your honeymoon or just want peace and quiet. The bungalows are quite far apart from each other. All in all, I think it's a great place to stay for a family holiday, or for people wanting to take a break from the "busy" Chiang Mai.

Chiang Dao Nest 1, Chiang Dao

The famous Chiang Dao Nest 1 was our chosen location for dinner. Chiang Dao Nest 1 is a resort with a fantastic restaurant serving Western food. The food was fantastic. Wicha, the owner and head chef, was trained in the UK. I had Grilled Chicken with Blue vein cheese and creamy pasta - very interesting and and delicious! The other dishes also looked really good too. For dessert, we had Cream Brulee, which was divine...and Devil Chocolate Cake and ice-cream.
View of Doi (Mountain) Luang from Chiang Dao Nest 1. At 2,225m above sea level, Doi Luang is Thailand's 3rd tallest mountain.
The cake tasted good, but I think it would have been better if it was warmed up a little.

We also had an opportunity to inspect one of Chiang Dao Nest 1's huts. The accommodation is very basic, with no TV, but it looked very comfortable and clean. We will possibly stay try them out next time. The resort is quite small - with the gardens not as big as Marisa's, but there are some lovely views of Doi Luang from the resort.

There is also a Chiang Dao Nest 2. The restaurant here serves Thai food.

Chiang Dao Caves

We visited Chiang Dao Caves the next morning. These caves are actually located in a temple not far from Chiang Dao Nest 1 & 2. The interesting things about these caves is that the caves are not lit up like you'd get in the "Western World", but rather, you go in with a guide by the lights of a kerosene lamp.
This pagoda was built in AD 191, found in front of the entrance to Chiang Dao Caves.
A rather unique experience. The entry fee goes to the Temple, and there is a charge of 100 baht per group for the use of the kerosene lamp. Guides are actually unpaid volunteers and help to protect the caves from sticky hands of people who likes to take souvenirs from the caves. If you go, please support them by giving them a "tip" after your tour so they can continue doing their important work protecting the caves and preventing you from getting lost, or falling down a big hole in one of the caves!

Visiting Chiang Dao Caves also require a bit of crouching and crawling (part of the fun!) to get into some of the caverns. Don't worry, it's nothing too strenuous. Wear good shoes when you go, even if the locals do it all in their flip-flops. The floors are uneven and some parts quite slippery.
There are many hill tribes living around Chiang Dao. They still wear their traditional costumes around town. This lady is breast feeding on the road side.

Chiang Dao Town & Ka Moo (Thai stewed pork leg with five spices)

After exploring the caves, we were quite hungry, so we went into town for some "Ka Moo". Chiang Dao is actually quite famous for its Pork leg stews. There are several shops along the main street. Stewed Pork legs are normally eaten with rice and a bit of chilli sauce. Yum!

One interesting thing about Chiang Dao town is that the local hill tribe people still dress up in their traditional costumes as they go about their business in town, so a great opportunity to see the hill tribes out and about doing their daily activities out of touristy situations.

We all had a fantastic time. All of us really enjoyed the beautiful scenery, the cooler weather, and of course, great food!
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Doi (mountain) Angkhang is right n…
Doi (mountain) Angkhang is right …
Beautiful flowers from Doi Angkhan…
Beautiful flowers from Doi Angkha…
Beautiful hill tribe bag in a mark…
Beautiful hill tribe bag in a mar…
View of Doi (mountain) Luang (left…
View of Doi (mountain) Luang (lef…
Bungalows at Marisa Resort
Bungalows at Marisa Resort
Grilled chicken with blue vein che…
Grilled chicken with blue vein ch…
View of Doi (Mountain) Luang from …
View of Doi (Mountain) Luang from…
This pagoda was built in AD 191, f…
This pagoda was built in AD 191, …
There are many hill tribes living …
There are many hill tribes living…
Thai stewed pork leg with five spi…
Thai stewed pork leg with five sp…
Chiang Dao
photo by: Stevie_Wes