Chiang Mai to Chiang Dao

The bus to Chiang Dao leaves from Chiang Mai’s Chang Pheuak bus station. They leave quite frequently and there was one about to leave when our taxi dropped us off so we climbed aboard straight away. You buy your tickets from the conductor on board and it cost us 100 baht for two adults and one child. The bus has two seats on one side of the aisle and three on the other so we had a group of three seats and Ed sat on my lap and fell asleep. The ride takes about one and half hours and climbs up into the mountains. People hail the bus anywhere along the side of the road so there is lots of stopping and starting and there were people standing in the aisles when the seats all filled up. The bus in this photo is actually the one we took to Tha Ton but the same buses shuttle between Chiang Mai – Chiang Dao – Fang – Tha Ton.

Tha Ton bound.

Chiang Mai to Tha Ton bus

In Chiang Dao we were dropped in the main street outside a Tesco Lotus. Chiang Dao town really only has the one main street and the town itself is not that interesting. We ate lunch at a restaurant across the road before getting a taxi (which cost 150 baht!) to our bungalow guesthouse, Chiang Dao Nest.

Our home of the moment.

Our bungalow at Chiang Dao Nest

The Nest is about a ten minute drive out of the town and is nestled at the foot of the mountains. It’s a beautiful spot and the clouds come down low on the mountains. We had a double bungalow with an extra bed for 1195 baht ($AUD40) a night. The bungalow had a fan (aircon was not needed) and bathroom and wifi was available in the restaurant area but the 3G on my phone was actually faster. I first read about the Nest online over a year ago and really wanted to stay there!

Chiang Dao Nest Bungalow

Inside the bungalow

The bungalow was simple but very comfortable, and the resort is great with a small pool, and lots of open air pavilions around the place for hanging out in, including one with a basket of kids toys. Unfortunately, as in Chiang Mai, the weather was pretty rainy so things were very damp.

play sala

Play Sala

Chiang Dao Nest 1 (where we stayed) has a famous restaurant serving Western food but it is pricey with mains 3 – 400 baht each. Chiang Dao Nest 2 down the road has a cheaper Thai restaurant but it is also quite pricey compared to our normal eateries. We didn’t try the food at Nest 2 but I’m sure it’s great. We ate dinner two nights at the bungalows next door to Nest 1, Malee’s Nature Lovers, and the food there was very nice and reasonably priced.

Coffee and clouds on the mountain.

Coffee in the garden at Nest 1

On our last night we splurged and ate at the restaurant Nest 1. The food really was delicious and it’s lucky it was our last night or we would have been very tempted to blow the budget and eat there again. They also have an interesting kids menu. Lillian ordered ‘Alice’s Platter’ which had cheese cubes, crackers, carrot and cucumber sticks, homemade baked beans and sliced apple. She ate the lot and then went off and played with Alice who is the chef’s daughter and 7 years old.

Chiang Dao has a market once a week on a Tuesday morning and seeing as we were there on the right day I thought we should see it. Alas, it started to rain just as we got there and the market was very wet and muddy. It also straddles the main road so was not very relaxing to walk along with the kids! The kids were moaning about the rain and mud so we abandoned the market for coffee and milkshakes until the rain had stopped. After a bit more of a wander we ate lunch at the same restaurant as the day before, bought some breakfast supplies from Tesco, and got the taxi back to the Nest again. It was an expensive outing at 150 baht each way and probably not really worth it but if we hadn’t gone I’d still be wondering!


Chiang Dao Temple

On our final day in Chiang Dao we walked up the road to visit a temple on the mountain. This one had 510 steps to walk up. Just as we got to the start the heavens opened again so we took refuge in a shelter that bizarrely had bookshelves full of Thai home decorating magazines (for the monks??). They made for interesting reading while waiting (again) for the rain to stop.

cave shrine

Temple cave shrine

Chiang Dao was a nice relaxing place after the hustle of Chiang Mai. It was nice to lie in the bungalow with the windows open at night listening to the insects and frogs. We all slept well and I even enjoyed being woken at 3am by the monk’s chanting. After three nights it was time to get back on the bus and move on to Tha Ton.


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