We flew in to Chiang Mai from Singapore on a promotional fare from Tiger Airways. Cheap as chips. Thing with Tiger's cheap fares is that you usually land pretty late at night. In this case we got in to Chiang Mai after 8pm, way after the last public bus to Chiang Dao. We stayed one night in Pagoda Inn, realized they had given away our room because we got there too late (it was 10pm?), and they only had the fan room left. Went with the fan room. Stuffy. But wonderful guesthouse (we returned later to stay in the AC rooms.. much better, only 150 baht more).
The point of this trip was to stay at Chiang Dao Nest.
From Chiang Mai we caught the 10am bus from Chang Puak bus station, which you can get to quickly in a songtaew for 20 baht. From Chang Puak there was a public bus departing for Chiang Dao — easy journey, short one too. Only 1.5 hours. The bus drops you in the middle of Chiang Dao town, from which you can catch a songtaew to Chiang Dao Nest (about 7km away).
We visited both Nest 1 and Nest 2 and found Nest 1 (which I'd requested for) was far more charming. Both are clean and cozy, but I stuck with Nest 1 for the atmosphere.. and the food! Wicha used to cook in London, and her food is really quite something. We were fed happily everyday with the most amazing cauliflower puree soup, lovely bread and balsamic, fantastic cheesecakes and sandwiches, even duck liver. She uses the freshest ingredients from the area. It was great. Nest 2 has some wonderful Thai food too, we walked there for lunch a few times.
Chiang Dao means 'city of the stars' and at night you realize why. It's startlingly beautiful, with an accompanying temperature of 16 degrees Celsius.
A chill place with great food. I would return in a heartbeat and you should too.