Some easy short trips
Published/Last edited or updated: 12th May, 2018
Without necessarily summiting the third highest mountain in the kingdom there are plenty of excellent, shorter and easier treks on offer around Chiang Dao as well as alternative two-day hikes.
These tend to be either of a cultural or natural bent with trips emphasising visits to hill-tribe villages or flora and fauna—particularly bird-life. Like many of the north’s higher mountains, (Inthanon, Ang Khang, Pha Hom Pok etc), the area is renowned as a Thai bird watching Mecca. The cool upper elevations form the southern limits for many Eurasian, temperate species with the warm lower slopes being the northern limits for tropical varieties.
Most guesthouses and resorts either offer programmes, will put you in touch with a guide or at least point you in the right direction. Both The Cave and local specialists Malee’s Nature Home advertise bird-watching tours while the former also promote one-day and half-day hiking trips with or without rafting. The latter offer two-day hikes with overnight stays in hill-tribe (usually Lisu) villages. 2018 rates at Malee’s started at 1,950 baht per person for two people on a one day hike and 3,600 baht for a two day version (per person, for two people).
In addition, there are some easy hikes you can do on your own in the area such as a marked nature trail or a climb up to a mountain temple. Just a short distance past Nest you’ll see the nature trail indicated on the left side of the road. It winds its way down a wooded valley to the Chiang Dao caves taking between 1.30 and 2 hours depending on your walking speed. Note in the rainy season this can get a bit overgrown and it may be worth asking your guesthouse if they have a machete you can borrow.
Just past the nature trail you’ll arrive at the Wildlife Sanctuary buildings from where steps lead up the mountains to a small temple/shrine called Tham Pla Pong. There are over five-hundred steps to the top so not only will the view at the top take your breath away the climb up will too. Expect lovely views over limestone cliffs and lush vegetation with more good birding opportunities, especially in the early mornings or late afternoons. At the shrine is the tomb of Luang Pho Sim, the temple's founder and one of Thailand's most celebrated monks (The Wildlife Sanctuary Headquarters below is a bit of a non-event though and is crying out for a decent visitor’s centre.)
If you’re planning further in advance, then Chiang Mai tour and trekking agents ought to be able to help out with longer treks in this area which would include hiking as well as overnight stays in Lisu and/or Hmong villages.
Malee’s Nature Home 144/2 Moo 5, Ban Tham, Chiang Dao. T: (081) 961 8387 http://www.maleenature.com
The Cave Chiang Dao Cave road just past Chiang Dao Huts, Ban Tham, Chiang Dao. T: (081) 892 0531. Open Tu–Su: 17:00–23:00
Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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