Jutting steeply into the sky, and clearly visible from town, this limestone behemoth -- the third largest mountain in the country -- casts a regal presence over the valley.
If you’re considering a hike to the summit of Doi Chiang Dao, or indeed other hikes in the area, then any guesthouse will be glad to help. Since guides and entry permits are compulsory for hikes to the mountaintop, whether one day or overnight, it makes sense to get someone to organise it for you.
Chiang Dao Nest has several packages available to trekkers, and though they are quite pricey, they receive rave reviews. If you're looking for something cheaper, Malee's Nature Lover's Guesthouse down the road offers more affordable packages, and have been working with guides they know and trust for many years.
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.
The trek to the summit, which stretches to 2,175 metres, can be done in a day with an early start and takes seven to 10 hours for the round trip depending on fitness levels. There is a designated camping site just below the summit, so if you prefer you can enquire about a two-day trek, though it will of course be pricier.
Though only the third (and some lists say fourth) highest peak in Thailand, many consider it the kingdom's most spectacular, with the summit consisting of a ring of jagged ridges dropping off into a green, bowl-shaped valley. Views in every direction are stupendous.
By Mark Ord.
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