Set in pretty grounds that teem with jungle butterflies, this forest wát sits at the entrance to Chiang Dao Cave, a chilly warren of passageways that extend more than 10km beneath the limestone massif of Doi Chiang Dao. For Buddhists, the cave is a meditation retreat, a sort of extension of the wát itself, and the twisting tunnels overflow with stalactites and stalagmites.
The Chiang Dao Caves complex itself is supposed to consist of over 100 caves which extend for some 10-12 kilometres inside the mountain range but there are only five main caves which are currently open to the public. There is a small admittance. Once paid go up the steps to the cave entrance, then descend into a large cavern where there are numerous Buddha images. A bit further on is the guide station. From here you have two choices. You can freely explore two caves by yourself as they are lit with electric lights; they are Tham Seua Dao (540 m) and Tham Phra Nawn (360 m). Both of these caves contain many shrines, statues and Buddha images.
Acquaint yourself with Asian elephants at The Elephant Training Center Chiang Dao. Enjoy a ride through the lush green jungle setting on the back of one of these giants, and watch them play and paint pictures (available for purchase later). Each elephant has its own personal caretaker and they are trained in the morning only, which leaves them free to roam the forest and relax the rest of the day.
This small forest temple perched on a hill not far from Wat Tha Chiang Dao is accessible by an ascent of 510 steps. Like that the number can be scary but it is more a walk with climbs and descents than a true hard ascension. Along the way, you will encounter many panels with Buddhist wisdom and advice written in Thai and English. Once you arrive up there, you will discover the cave of the temple and its many Buddha images and pictures of monks on the walls and a golden chedi with a nice view of the surrounding mountains.
Discover a simple beauty nature of Chiang Mai’s Countryside at Mae Taman Elephant Camp. At the camp, a total of 60 elephants, elephants’ routine and elephants’ abilities will be presented and then, enjoy an elephant ride through the lush green forest with the beautiful scenery of Mae Tang River together with experience on the ox-cart riding to one of the nearby village. The program at the camp will be ended with a traveling along Mae Tang River by the bamboo rafting in the sense of fresh air and sustainable living habitat along both sides of the river.
Doi Chiang Dao also referred to as Doi Luang Chiang Dao (ดอยหลวงเชียงดาว), is the third highest peak in Thailand and hands-down the peak to climb as a short trek on any trip to northern Thailand (note the link for access to mountaingazelle's excellent page overviewing the region). Although Doi Inthanon is far more popular for being the highest point in the country (and a drive up Doi Inthanon is well worth a trip both for the summit and the nearby waterfalls), Doi Chiang Dao offers a much more authentic experience and has spectacular views of surrounding peaks and terrain that are largely lacking on its larger neighbor to the southwest.