You can do Chiang Rai in a day trip from Chiang Mai. But when you are James and Suzannah you can make that day trip last a week! The first part of the route to Chiang Dao is popular with backpackers on motorbikes, but for us it is a great excuse to get on a local bus. Our love affair with local transport started in Peru and continued in Cambodia. We delight in travelling the way the locals do and it is so jolly cheap.
Chiang Dao is only an hour and a half from Chiang Mai up in the mountains. You could easily drive by and miss it and that would be a shame. James tracked down a great little hotel on Booking.com with rave reviews for us. The owners are a German and his Thai wife, so the English is good and the food is sensational!
This morning we went and had breakfast with the monks up at Wat Thum Phaprong. Our German host was delighted we Aussies thought nothing of leaving at 7.15am to get there in time for the blessing of the food. He mentioned only briefly the 500 odd steps up the mountain, and we forgot until confronted by them! But it was worth it to see that first weak sunlight hitting the golden roof of the Wat Thum Phaprong. We were the only foreigners there watching the jungle mists clear and the mountain birds start their morning chorus. After the food was carried in and blessed, we quietly left and allowed the monks to eat in peace.
Breakfast for us was at our next stop, the Phra Non Cave. As a claustrophobic I have to be careful with caves, but this is a nice big roomy cave and being there so early we had the place to ourselves. I got right to the end, taking photos en route and then walked very swiftly out whilst James dawdled.
Tomorrow we continue our slow journey to Chiang Rai, stopping at Tha Ton, I wonder what delights we will find there?
The bus trip from Chiang Mai to Chiang Dao took one and a half hours and was a ridiculously cheap 40 Baht each less than $2*. There are several bus stations in Chiang Mai, the one you want is Chang Phuak Bus Station.
We stayed at the Huan Chiang Dao Resort which we found on booking.com.
Our morning’s trip of about three hours with a Songthaew waiting for us was 500 Baht, about $20* and our hotel arranged it for us.
Visiting the Wat Thum Phaprong was free but the entrance to the Phra Non Cave was 40 Baht each (less than $2). There were other excursions to deeper parts of the cave at an additional cost but with my claustrophobia that wasn’t happening!
- Prices correct at time of writing February 2018