Tham Chiang Dao

Chiang Dao Cave

Useful Information

Location: Chiang Dao. Signposted from the town, at the end of the village turn left, 7 km to the cave. 72 km north of Chiang Mai city along the way to Fang and Tha Ton and 5 km west of route 107.
(19°23'38.40"N, 98°55'41.29"E)
Fee: Adults THB 10, Guides per group THB 100.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=9,402 m.
Tham Phra Nawn: L=360 m.
Tham Seua Dao: L=540 m.
Tham Maa: L=7,365 m.
Tham Kaew: L=477 m.
Tham Naam: L=660 m.
Guided tours:
Address: Tham Chiang Dao.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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There are five interconnected caves which make up the Tham Chiang Dao complex, two of the caves are illuminated by electric lights. They are called Tham Phra Nawn and Tham Seua Dao. The lit caves can be visited on self guided tours. The visit resembles a visit to a cave temple as these caves contain many religious statuary and sacred Buddha images.

The other three caves can be explored accompanied by local guides with lanterns. This are Tham Maa, Tham Kaew, and Tham Naam. This is the real cave trip, with lots of speleothems and a cave river. It is strongly advised to take a guide, as there are unmarked drops. The cave is not difficult, many parts are equipped with paths, but visitors should expect some easy crawls too.

A Thai legend tells that the Chiang Dao Caves served as the home of a reu-sii (hermit sage) for a thousand years. She sage was so intimate with the deity world that he convinced some the-wadaa, the Buddhist equivalent of angels, to create seven magic wonders inside the caverns. These are:

  1. a solid-gold Buddha
  2. a stream flowing from the pedestal of the solid-gold Buddha
  3. a storehouse of divine textiles
  4. a mystical lake
  5. a city of nagas
  6. a sacred immortal elephant
  7. the hermits own tomb

Unfortunately they are so far inside the cave, they will never be found. And theres another drawback: visitors who try to remove anthing from the cave, even if it is just a piece of rock, loose there way back and will never leave the cave again.

Nearby is a cave temple called Wat Tham Pha Plong. It has some great views, as there are more than 500 steps to the temple half way up the side of the mountain.

The peak of nearby Doi Chiang Dao is 2225 meters above sea level, making it one of Thailand's highest mountains.