The Chiang Dao Cave is one of the top tourist attractions in Thailand as it extends to 12 kilometers into the Doi Chiang Dao Mountain. Truth is, only a handful of experienced trekkers get to venture into the cave of Chiang Dao apart from the five accessible areas: Tham Maa, Tham Phra Nawn, Tham Kaew, Tham Naam and Tham Seua Dao. This cave alone attracts hundreds of tourists to the city and has contributed much to the growth of tourism in the country.
The caves feature magnificent crystal formations that have formed due to the drippings of water. Air inside the renowned caves remains cool most of the time but can get extremely humid during the hot and rainy seasons. Despite being a highly complicated trek, the cave of Chiang Dao is safe for travel. It is important to hire guides, though, to help you through the caves. Never attempt to go into poorly lit caverns without a guide as several areas have unmarked drops that may be potential hazards.
The caves of Tham Phra Nawn and Tham Seua Dao have adequate lighting inside where novice trekkers can explore. All caves carry a number of sacred Buddha images. Make use of the handrails provided, watch your head and keep children accompanied at all times. Also, it’s important to never remove anything from the cave. A 10 Baht admission fee is charged for every person to enter the cave and an additional 100 Baht more is needed when hiring a guide.
Another interesting spot to visit is the Padung Village that can be found further up the cave. This is where the Long Neck Karen ethnic tribe can be found. Women in the village wear an impressive array of thick brass rings around their necks as part of their rich culture. This distorts the growth of their collarbones and makes them look like they have long necks which are seen as beautiful in their society. The row of brass rings does not actually stretch their necks but instead squashes the vertebrate and the collar bones. A typical Long Neck Karen woman has about twenty or more rings around her neck, the first of which would have been put upon her at about the age of 5 or 6.
These Long Neck Ladies see dozens of people daily and are constantly photographed. It is but normal for them to appear bored in your pictures, so you might want to try and charm them into a smile before you take a photo. It will be a good idea to explore the culture and ways of life of this interesting tribe before supporting their source of income by buying a few souvenirs. An entrance fee is required to enter the village to see these astonishing ladies.
The town of Chiang Dao is about 72 kilometers or about an hour’s drive away from Chiang Mai. From the city, get on Highway 107 or Chiang Mai-Fand and turn left when you reach Km. 71-72 to get to the base of the Chiang Dao Mountain. Take another left turn and head straight about 5 kilometers more until you reach the parking lot. The drive will definitely be worth your while. Boasting of some of the most stunning stalactite and stalagmite formations in the country, the Chiang Dao Cave is just one of those spectacular tourist spots that you absolutely must visit during your trip to Thailand.