Tham Chiang Dao

  Andrea Schaffer

Tham Chiang Dao

The most well-known attraction at Chiang Dao is the Chiang Dao caves, about 5km from the town centre and next to a temple of the same name. The cave complex consists of 12km of caves, full of stalactites and stalagmites that run deep under the limestone mountains; 5 caverns are open to the public. The cave is in fact a Buddhist temple, so "temple dress-code" applies. You can rent suitable coverings for 20B. At the entrance, you will see the small temple shrine to the right, and in front of you are well-tended gardens, teeming with jungle butterflies. There is also a lovely stream of aqua blue water stocked with colourful carp which you can feed. Buy your ticket here and then walk up some steep steps to reach the cave entrance. From here you descend into a vast cavern containing many Buddha Images. You can explore the main lit cavern by yourself, where you can clearly see the rock formations, and then walk down the main passage to the second cavern and shrine. This is as far as you can go without a guide. For the unlit caves you need to hire a tour guide with gas lamp, which is a good idea as it is easy to get lost. Guides cost 100B for 1 or more persons and they expect a tip of 100B per person at the end of the tour. They will take you on a little gas-lamp adventure through the remaining three chambers which are over 500m underground and are quite large, although some of the connecting passages are very narrow and in places you have to crawl. Not to be recommended for the claustrophobic or physically challenged. In every chamber you will find statues and Buddha images. Although the main temple was built in relatively recent times, it is thought that the ancient chedis built on rocks at the back of the cave are 2,000 years old. Outside in the car park you will find a few Thai coffee shops which also sell cheap Thai food, mainly noodles and rice dishes. *TIP* - The caves are serene but can get busy(ish) with Chinese tour buses around late morning – early afternoon; so best to go early morning or late afternoon. Entry: 40B Open: 7:00am - 5:00pm Getting Here: 5km west of the main highway/ Chiang Dao town. (11 minute drive and an hour's walk.)

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