Chiang Dao Travel Guide
You most likely won’t hear much about travel to Chiang Dao on your trip to Thailand. It’s not on the tourist path for most travelers visiting the North. However, I find it to be an incredibly relaxing place, and a great way to see normal, everyday life in action outside of the big cities. Chiang Dao translates into ‘The City of Stars’, which is true to its name in the evenings when the stars light up the whole sky.
If you follow my itinerary which eventually leads you up to Mae Salong in the Northern mountains, you can easily stop in Chiang Dao for a night or two.
How To Get To Chiang Dao
Chiang Dao is easily accessible from Chiang Mai. Head to the Chiang Mai bus station and book your ticket to Chiang Dao. You could take a regular bus or a mini van. The cost should be very low, most likely less than 200 baht ($6). It will take only about an hour and a half to reach the Chiang Dao bus station. During the wetter months, the ride into Chiang Dao is incredibly beautiful, as you wind along the mountains following streams with green jungle surrounding you.
Where To Stay In Chiang Dao
I wouldn’t suggest staying in the town of Chiang Dao itself as much as the outskirts of town, more towards the mountains. The town itself doesn’t offer too much in the way of things to do. There are a few budget guesthouses in town, a local market that gets larger on Tuesdays. The best place by far to stay however, is The Nest, or its sister, The Nest 2
The Nest is a perfect place for someone traveling alone, as a couple, or a small family or group of friends. Set about 7km from the town itself hugging the base of the mountain, you won’t find a more adorable and accommodating place in Chiang Dao than The Nest. The bungalows are decent sized and very cozy. Super soft, comfortable beds with in suite bathrooms for a very affordable price (usually around 1000 baht $30 ). The Nest offers a pool with a spectacular view of the mountain, and you will find surprisingly a 5 star, award winning restaurant serving Western foods. The chef and owner has traveled around the world learning how to cook, and her meals are not a disappointment. They put a lot of care into their cooking, and it shows. Show up on a Thursday night for the big BBQ dinner!
The Nest 2 is the sister guesthouse, located on the same road just about a km down the road. This guesthouse is smaller, with only about 9 cabins, and has an equally delicious restaurant, except this time serving Thai Cuisine only.
Both locations offer tours in and around the Chiang Dao area, which offer trekking, caving, zip-lining, etc.
Where to Eat In Chiang Dao
The Nest for Western foods and The Nest 2 for Thai Cuisine
What to Do In Chiang Dao
Rent a motorbike from the guesthouse next door to The Nest. His prices are a little higher than most places in Thailand (around 400 baht) but its one of the only options (as of 2016) for motorbike rentals outside of the town, and definitely worth it to explore the area.
Ride your bike around the local plantations of Chiang Dao. It’s truly beautiful with the mountain backdrop.
Climb the 500+ stairs of the temple up the road from The Nest for an early sunrise or sunset experience. On the road leading to the temple, there are locations where you can do your own hiking, just ask The Nest for a map of the area and where to enter the trails.