Last Updated on January 7, 2016 by Christine Kaaloa
Going deep into Chiang Dao Cave, Thailand
.Have you ever thought of visiting caves on your travels?
Chiang Dao Cave , otherwise known locally as Phra Non Cave, Wat Tum Chiang Dao is cavernous and is actually, a temple of sorts. You’ll find caverns upon caverns of large hanging stalactites (mostly) and stalactites, an eerie sarcophagus burial, shrines and shrines again. Your jaw can’t help but fall open upon viewing some of this. Between Chiang Dao Cave and Tham Nam Lod Cave in Soppong (written post coming ), any other cave you’ve seen in Southeast Asia will feel like a puppy’s playground.
What’s the deal with caves in Thailand
In Thailand, there are caves that are just caves, some are used by Buddhist monks for meditation and others, are well, they part shrines that are also open to tourists.
The Chiang Dao Cave is a temple as it is a tourist destination. There are altars interspersed in some areas and sitting Buddhas. During your walk you’ll find an eerie shrine to a mummified sarcophagus.
chiang dao cave sarcophogus
How to view the cave?
It’s advised to hire a guide to take you through the cave as you won’t be able to go on your own and the cave is deep and dark.
The guides are locals of the area and speak minimal English. They communicate by pointing out how some of the stalagmites and stalagtites look like animals. This seems to be fairly standard for local guides who are showing lighter walks and not so much caving/trekking.
Note: There are hanging bats in certain areas and bugs too. Your guide might point them out to you.
How much does it cost
General Admission is only 40 baht to enter the cave. But to explore the cave you need to hire a guide with a lantern. This costs 100 baht and a tip (I gave 50 baht) is recommended.
Degree of Difficulty
I’d say this cave entailed light walking and was fairly easy to get through, but there were a few questionable spots and the cave can be humid and warm. At one point my guide went through a cave hole that looked small and I wasn’t sure if I’d fit. I had to remove my backpack in order to get through. Also, there’s a point in the path where you need to walk down a steel incline. The rocks on the ground can be slippery and you have to be mindful of your steps. I did break a sweat.
This wasn’t the easiest cave trek I’ve done, but it wasn’t anywhere close to the hardest. It’s still a cave that most tourists can enjoy in leisure, with the exception that this is a cavernous one and goes deep. I highly recommend taking the tour.
Towards the end, when the guide leaves you on your own. The cave is well-lit and almost cheesy at times, with a colored light display, reminiscent of the tourist lighting in the caves of Halong Bay.
Nevertheless, the cave is still mighty impressive!
The temple grounds are more than just a cave
Although the main attraction of this area is the Chiang Dao Cave, the temple grounds are free to roam and you’ll find a medley of shrines, honoring a few different spiritual philosophies. There’s a large outdoor Buddha statue, a worship room for Hindu devotees, an outdoor donation altar for each animal of the Chinese horoscope and a small meditation cave tucked behind the larger monuments, located near the public toilets.
Getting to Chiang Dao from Chiang Mai
There is only two ways to get to Chiang Dao — from either, Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai. You can’t come to it via Pai. From Chiang Mai’s Chiang Puak Bus Station, I took a local bus headed to Chiang Dao. It makes a lot of local stops along the way.
Getting to Ban Tham in Chiang Dao
Yellow Taxi to Bam Tham (Chiang Dao Cave Village) 150 baht
Bus to Chiang Dao ( 3 hours from Chiang Mai)
- No direct route from Pai. Need to take it from Chiang Mai
Watch: Things to Do in Chiang Dao in 48 hours
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