Thailand is known for exotic food, beautiful islands with while sand beaches. Trekking for beautiful view on top of the mountains is another activities you should do in Thailand. Not many people know that Northern Thailand especially Chiang Mai is a great place for trekking.

Mountain views in Thailand are stunning but the real joy of trekking in Thailand is very less to do with the scenery at the destination. It is your companions and people who join the journey with you, the remote trails barely touched by the mainstream tourism, those birds and insect singing in deep jungle and hill-tribe people you will meet along the trial.

You can enjoy trekking along in Thailand but it is better to have local guides who have passion and enthusiasm in trekking to lead you to a deeper understanding of the areas. There are some areas that required permission from the authority as well and these local guides can arrange the passage for you.

The most famous trekking in Northern Thailand and probably one of the roughest trails in Thailand is trekking to Doi Luang in Ampur Chiang Dao, Chiang Mai Province.

Doi Luang Chiang Dao is the third tallest mountain in Thailand with the height of 2,225 meters above the sea, behind Doi Intano and Doi Pha Hom Pok, and all three are in Chiang Mai. Doi Luang Chiang Dao consists of several peaks. Beside Chiang Dao peak with 2,225 meters from the sea level, other peaks are Doi Kew Lom (2,140 meters), Doi Nue or sometimes called Doi Pyramid (2,175 meters), Doi Nog (2,000 meters) and Doi Sam Phi Nong (2,150 meters).

Doi Luang Chiang Dao is the third highest mountain in Thailand which has the height of 2,275 meters above sea level. In ancient times, Chiang Dao was called. “Doi Ang Salung” which mean mountain with a golden bowl. As the tale goes, this was the place the lord Buddha and his 8 follower monks stopped by and bathed with a golden bowl. It’s highly unlikely that Buddha was never in there but local people always have tales to make a place more sacred. Some people called it “Doi Luang” which mean enormous hill because its size.

Doi Luang Chiang Dao is a limestone mountain that formed between 230-250 million years ago.According from geological studies,  the mountains here are a result of the deposition of sea sediments, precipitation of dead species such as coral and shellfish several hundreds million years ago.

Doi Chiang Dao is quite difficult and majority of travelers don’t travel here of know much about this place. Since Chiang Dao is hard to travel to and it is a far less-trekked area, is perfect choice for those who love adventure. It has variety of trekking possibilities and there’s a full range of options. From some hardcore trekking that requires over night stay in the mountain to gentle walks in the woods to enjoy the scenery. Along the way there caves, viewpoints, hill-tribe villages live along the mountain terrain, such as Akha, Lisu, Lahu, Karen and Palaung).

Trekking to Chiang Dao is not easy and it involve some paper work and waiting processes. Due to undesired terrains, impacts to nature and wildlife, and other risks, the authority allows travelers to climb up on only 2 peaks, Doi Kew Lom and Chiang Doa peak, from 1 November to 31 March. Doi Kew Lom has great spot to view sunrise and morning sea of frog, while Chiang Dao peak is best for scenery of sunset.

All travelers who are to trek to Chiang Dao must obtain a permission from obtained from Director of Wildlife Reserve Division, Royal Forest Department a few weeks prior to the trekking. Normally this permission can be requested for you by a trekking organizer. Once approved, Wildlife Reserve Division will provide mountain guides and porters who will carry your belonging up to the peak. Only 150 people per day are allowed to trek to Chiang Dao.

There are at least 10 accommodations is available in accommodation area in Chiang Dao. One of the best choice is Baan Ra Beang Doa (Meaning House of Terrace Stars). It’s small house resort in the middle of the mountain and very close to great spots in Doi Chiang Dao. It is a super nice accommodation, but it is comfortable to stay and giving you wonderful feeling in the mountain. In a clear night, stars can be seen from the balcony. The room rate is just 500 Baht per night including breakfast and dinner.

When you decide to go to the view point for view near the peak, most of the time you will need to stay overnight by setting up camping because it normally takes 1.3 hours to the camp of the national park’s office, and another 5 hours to get to the view point. It will be too late to come back to the accommodation area in the same day. There is no accommodation up there, also no place to take a shower. But don’t worry the weather there is cool all year round and the atmosphere is fresh that you don’t have a feeling wanting to take a shower.

What you should know before trekking

  • Approval from Wildlife Reserve Division must be obtain prior to the trekking. The office it is not far from Chiang Dao cave, Chiang Dao district or Tel. 05-326 -1466. You can ask your organizer to arrange this for you.
  • Up to 150 persons per day are allowed to enter Chiang Dao. Since the number is limited, you should contact the Wildlife Reserve Division early.
  • The opening period is from 1 November to 31 March only.
  • There must be a mountain guide or an authority personnel in the trekking group. The fee of mountain guide is 400 Baht per person (guided will not carry any belongings). If you required a porter or person who will carry your belongings, it is charged 300 Baht per person per day.
  • Porter person are available at the shop front Chiang Dao Cave.
  • To get full experience the trip normally take at least 3 days 2 nights, however no shower available.


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One Response

  1. Gil Villadores

    Good information. Are there any trekking tour agency who can help to arrange the trek and organize everything? Thanks.


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