Chiang Dao - City of Stars
Chiang Dao Travel Blog› entry 3 of 3 › view all entries
January 1st, 2009 – by: indigocm
We went on a little family vacation (2 days 1 night) to Chiang Dao.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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