Doi Chiang Dao (Doi Luang Chiang Dao)


Doi Chiang Dao: A Valentine’s Day Hike With Breathtaking Views and Candlelit Dinners

Doi Chiang Dao
Natural Height
Hiking Period
Rest Stops & Facilities
Guides & Porters
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Summary Doi Chiang Dao (Doi Luang Chiang Dao) Thailand - Summary

Need a romantic hike? Try Thailand’s Doi Chiang Dao for breathtaking views and candlelit dinners

Doi Chiang Dao is a 230-250 million year old limestone summit – known to locals as Piang Dao or “at the level of the stars”. It’s Thailand’s most popular hike owing to its unspoilt natural beauty, and place in Thailand’s spiritual fabric. Most climbers choose to either take in the sunset or sunrise at the summit, and camp under the stars.

Climbing Doi Chiang Dao (Doi Luang Chiang Dao) Thailand - Height and Distance

Natural Doi Chiang Dao (Doi Luang Chiang Dao) Thailand - Natural Height

Summits Index:
4 / 10 (2,001m - 3,000m)

2,175m (7,136ft)

Natural Doi Chiang Dao (Doi Luang Chiang Dao) Thailand - Hiking Period

Summits Index:
3 / 10 (2 days)

Though this entire trek can be covered in a single day, most travellers follow a 2-day itinerary which gives them plenty of time to stop and admire the sights.

Difficulty Doi Chiang Dao (Doi Luang Chiang Dao) Thailand - Hiking Difficulty

Difficulty Doi Chiang Dao (Doi Luang Chiang Dao) Thailand - Terrain

Summits Index:
4 / 10 (Generally mild, though may be challenging in some parts)

Doi Chiang Dao is one of the most scenic treks in Thailand. The trail, though steep in parts, is mostly under a canopy of trees which will help take off some of the pressure of the climb. Even so, expect some gruelling stretches and factor in plenty of time for rest both ways. Because of the steepness of the mountain, climbing down is every bit as exhausting as climbing up. Hence, climbers who are physically fit and have some exposure to trekking will find it easier.

There is only one official trail that takes climbers all the way to the summit. (unofficial trails also exist but it is advisable, in the interest of safety, to stick to the official one).

Day 1:

The official start of the trail is at Chiang Dao Cave. Here hikers will start the trek with a 12km drive to the start of the walking trail.

The trail leads trekkers along steep slopes in dry evergreen forest but is not a difficult climb (unless you are blessed with rain showers). The route has plenty to offer including amazing views and colourful flowers and butterflies along the way.

After about two and a half hours, the trail remains steep, but the scenery changes slightly. You get to see bamboo groves, limestone formations and grassy patches on the way before you reach the Ang Salung (or Ao Salun) valley.

The trail proceeds to the camping ground that is at the far eastern end of the valley. On this stretch, you get to see the villages down below and the mountains all around.

Starting from the cave at around 10:00 should bring hikers to the edge of the Ang Salung valley, the campsite for the night by about 17:30. Here hikers set up camp before trekking to the summit for the sunset.

Day 2:

An early start allows trekkers to hike up to the summit again for the sunrise. The hike up at this hour can be difficult because it is in the dark and the trail is pretty steep. In fact, this is the steepest stretch of the trail and involves scrambling over the rocks. Once up at the summit though, one can rest while watching the sun come up above the sea of fog and clouds.

Back to camp for breakfast and begin the descent. The trail will clear up as the day picks up (except in the odd chance that it rained the day before, which will make it muddy and slippery), and towards the afternoon more people start going up, trudging along the routes that you were navigating the day before.

By 15:00 hikers arrive back at the Cave and proceed back to lodgings.

Difficulty Doi Chiang Dao (Doi Luang Chiang Dao) Thailand - Weather

Summits Index:
4 / 10 (Fluctuates greatly across seasons and/or between the base and summit or mildly unpleasant throughout the year)

The Doi Chiang Dao Wildlife Reserve is only open to visitors during the cool and dry season from November to February. The temperatures range between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius during the day and between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius during night time. Up in the mountains, nighttime temperatures often fall below 10 degrees at night, so pack warm for the night in case you are camping overnight.

Difficulty Doi Chiang Dao (Doi Luang Chiang Dao) Thailand - Equipment

Summits Index:
3 / 10 (Poles would help)

There is no special equipment needed to hike this trail, however, proper hiking shoes are a must, and poles might help on the steep sections, especially when it rains.

Facilities Doi Chiang Dao (Doi Luang Chiang Dao) Thailand - Support Facilities

Facilities Doi Chiang Dao (Doi Luang Chiang Dao) Thailand - Rest Stops & Facilities

Summits Index:
4 / 10 (Sufficient facilities; regular rest stops, some food and water but not throughout)

At the trailhead, you’ll find a registration kiosk, toilets/bathrooms, food, and potable water.

Along the trail are publicly displayed trail maps and portable water.

At the summit base camp, there are shelters for overnight rest but food and potable water are only available from guides/porters.

Facilities Doi Chiang Dao (Doi Luang Chiang Dao) Thailand - Guides and Porters

Summits Index:
4 / 10 (Recommended, or required by regulation even though technically may not be necessary; reliable and affordable easily available)

Guides are necessary to hike this trail and porters are recommended.

Accessibility Doi Chiang Dao (Doi Luang Chiang Dao) Thailand - Accessibility and Safety

Accessibility Doi Chiang Dao (Doi Luang Chiang Dao) Thailand - Location

Summits Index:
2 / 10 (Near major city; accessible any time)

Chiang Mai International is the nearest airport. Domestic connections are available from other major tourist destinations in Thailand to Chiang Mai. From Chiang Mai, there are several options to get to Chiang Dao. You could choose between a private taxi, bus services that operate several times a day or a self-driven cab. It takes a little more than an hour to get to Chiang Dao from Chiang Mai.

Accessibility Doi Chiang Dao (Doi Luang Chiang Dao) Thailand - Safety

Summits Index:
4 / 10 (Little risk of injuries, but not recommended for single travelers)

Being a popular destination, it is very unlikely you will ever be completely alone or isolated on this trek so there is little to worry about in terms of personal safety, however, Unexpected rain can slow your progress and make the trail slippery and treacherous at some points, so tread carefully when bad weather hits.

Insects: As is typical with any wilderness, you are likely to encounter a few insects and mosquitos. Make sure to use insect repellent, especially if you are planning on an overnight stay in the mountains.

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