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We had only 3 hours for preparing everything for this trip.
We are going to fight for the top of the mountain called "Chiang Dao" which is our main goal.
We arranged and confirmed everything like booking a vehicle, mountain climbing assistants and contacted officers within 3 hours. It was lucky that my friend, Big, and my sister had talked with them before, but it's not really well prepared because everything was in rush. Big was already in Bangkok, my sister (Aom) had just come back from Chiang Mai to count down with our parents and still had to take a bus for over 10 hours. My brother (Prik) was in Hua Hin and had to drive to Chon Buri for taking his clothes and headed to Bangkok for taking a bus. Myself, had just landed from a backpack trip in China. How does it sound like??? This trip is going to be chic and cool yeah !! lol
Left to right: Prik, Big, Mi, and Aom
We had no choice, all flights were full during new year.
Actually travelling to the mountain Chiang Dao is very easy. You can book a car from Bangkok to Ta-ton village and get off on on the way, then walk a short way to the mountain Chiang Dao. People whom we previously contact will pick us up there (I'll tell you more details later). But...buses for this route were all full, that's why we had a rush plan.
Firstly we had to book a bus to Chiang Mai (we would organize a trip when arriving Chiang Mai).
We took a bus departing at 11 pm and that would take us around 10 hours before arriving Chiang Mai in the morning at around 8 am. Once our feet touched Chiang Mai land we asked a minibus to Chiang Dao which would cost 1,200 Baht. We felt that it's too expensive so we'd better take a motorbike which was cheaper. We didn't know exactly how far, but it shouldn't be that much. So, let's find motorbikes!!.
Before looking for motorbikes, we'd better book a bus ticket for our return because we had to work on Monday. But, if there is none, it's not that serious because we still can find a bus, like a hitchhiker. Luckily that there were extra buses we could book during this new year time. As I remember, the ticket price was 563 Baht for a single trip and cost the same for a return.
Ok let's switch to a motorbike rental. The first rental we visited was "Smile" where it had a very cheap rental rate, only 200 Baht for one per day. But...unfortunately they were all booked so we went to another one called Bikky. Like usual we gave them our ID card, signed and paid 250 Baht per day for a motorbike. I recommend you to look for a 125 cc so that you could have more fun !!
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It is around 75 kilometres from Chiang Mai city to Doi Luang Chiang Dao wildlife sanctuary. We took a road number 107 which is the way to Mae Rim district. You might have to be careful when entering this road at the beginning because there are many cars at that point, but after that it is fine. We were very happy while driving but then we had to stop because of the police call. In Chiang Mai there are a lot of police and we might get checked even though we are wearing a helmet. As I noticed, I think they will call a rented motorbikes to check if we have a driving licence. But,....they will never get me because I have my licence !!!. Wait...it's already expired for 2 years already....oh....then...ok I surrender !! lol
But on this way there is also a fun part from Mae Taeng to Chiang Dao. The road is so good for motorbikes, lots of curves and that is very entertaining and exciting (some people gave a big thumb for us and I'm not sure if that means positive or negative...lol). About an hour we finally arrived the wildlife sanctuary.
When we arrive there we have to sign on rules must be followed in the area; garbage, number of plastic bags and water bottles, etc. The fee is 40 Baht for entering, 40 baht for the tent, and 300 Baht deposit per group for garbage which would be returned when we show it to authorities before we go back. To go up to Doi Luang, we only need one assistant which costs 500 Baht per person for one day. I had contacted Mr. Jaroon already, and for more information please call 085-962-8358.
I didn't know that we could actually use our car to go to the start point. Previously some people said that we had to rent a pick-up so I thought the road might not be in a good condition. But....it was macadamised road all the way up to start point. So, if you bring your own car you can contact an assistant to meet at the start point and that you don't have to rent a pick-up like us.
There are 2 ways to get to the start point, Den ya kud and Pangwua, each with different price. The difference between these 2 ways is the distance to the peak, Den ya kud will take 8.5 kilometres and Pangwua will take 6 kilometres. For Den ya kud, the way will not be so steep at the beginning, unlike Pangwua. So you have to consider you would prefer to take. A pick-up for Den ya kud will cost 1,200 Baht per one way, and Pangwua 600 Baht one way as well. We chose Pangwua because we wanted some excitements for this chic and cool trip, a little bit steep way is fine. Once everything was ready...let's go !!.
Note that most tourists choose Den ya kud to reach to the top and choose Pangwua for a return.
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Ok, now it's time to describe about going up to Doi Luang Chiang Dao.
The distance from Pangwua to the peak is 6 kilometres and two sides of the road is covered by forest and limestone. The beginning of the road is quite steep and slippery, then it becomes less slippery on the half way.
There are very few flat area, most are quite steep especially the final way before reaching the top. There are also fossil of shellfish which is an evidence that this area is used to be a sea. Normally tourists will take about 6 hours for going up. For us, we took photos, rested, and talked among a very nice, chilling and relaxing weather. We took off our clothes and walked with our chic and cool style walking steps. We continued walking, enjoyed the scenery and a beer and finally we arrived the base camp after 5 hours of walking.
Once we arrived the base camp our new friend Mr. Mai (our assistant) set up a tent for us. He told us to rush and walk to the top so that we could see the sunset. The final period of walking today we were very excited to see an amazing thing waiting for us. On the way to our final destination there were full of limestones. A pathway is used to be full of grasses but now is replaced by dust as a result of tourist footsteps. The beautiful flowers seem to wither because of thousands of peoples' eyes fondling and camera flashes. What I see here is not that perfect like what it looks in the picture. But.....what I see in front of me makes me forget that this is Thailand !!!
We were there for quite long....long enough to be the last group on that mountain until the last sunshine was gone, then we couldn't see the beautiful view in front even though it's so close. At the top it was so cold with 6 Celsius degree at about 6 pm only. Before we left we took a photo with the sign of " the top of Doi Luang Chiang Dao" and then walked down to the base camp.
We came here with nothing much, each person had a cup of noodle, 2 bottles of water (one for drink and one for other use), and 2 cans of beer. We didn't bring any lighter or gas stove because we thought that we would find a great friendship up here...and it's true.
We met one person who gave us 6 more noodles and we also borrowed a pot and a gas stove from him for cooking. It was really delicious eating noodles among the moon light on that night. We talked for a while and could not stand the cold temperature outside so we'd better go inside our tent. Anyway we couldn't sleep because it's too cold (lowest degree was -2 Celsius). At around midnight we then heard animals' sound of teasing.
Oh or it might be chamois's sound like Mr. Mai told us before. He said that at late night there would be chamois coming to search for food at where where set up our tent. I thought it must be them for sure !!. I woke up and looked outside through the black tent net in order to see the animal. Oh...they are there !! I was so glad to see them here because normally it is quite hard to see them around. I saw 3 chamois running, teasing each other and making sound like..fud fud fud. They were playing with lots of fun and so cute until I had to take my flashlight to see them clearer.
I also woke up my sister (Ms. Aom) to see the chamois together but she was too sleepy. I turned on the flashlight gently so that I wouldn't disturb them. But..it seemed that they knew I was looking at them so they ran away into the forest. I felt pity for turning on the light on but not so long after that I heard their sound again like......eng eng eng. I was doubtful and wondering all night about that sound but finally I recognised that it was just a dog sound of a tent beside us. lol......
I woke up in the next morning but was still sleepy. What !! it's almost 7..oh that's because of those chamois disturbing me all night. We walked slowly with full of energy until we arrived Kew Lom point. At that time there were not so many flowers left as they were already withered. The best time for Chiang Dao is between the middle of November to the middle of December which you can see a lot of beautiful booming flowers, some are hard to find especially parrot flowers (available only one place in Thailand.... Chiang Dao).
Mr. Mai told us that at the time we came it was a period of clear sky, no fog and beautiful. If we come during mist time, we will get another scenery which is also beautiful. He also invited and asked us to come again next year. We exchanged our phone numbers and then walked down very fast so that we could have time for Chiang Dao cave. When we arrived our tent, I asked my friends to go back to the top again to take a picture of tent and Doi Luang Chiang Dao. Mr, and Mr. Prik joined us as well. While walking up to the top at the second time, my sister Aom and my friend Big were cooking noodles and waiting for us down there.
We didn't take so long to reach the top again and shouted loud to tell people who were waiting down there...arrived already !!!. We took our tent and camera so that we could have some nice pictures. After we finished taking those pictures I thought they were beautiful and didn't mean to break any rule. But..finally we got some problems...many groups of our friends warned us that we should bring the tent up to the top. I knew that I would not intend to sleep up there because it wouldn't be that comfortable; not a nice place to sleep, windy at night, and cold weather at almost minus degree. Also, if we had any problem it would be hard to find someone to help up there. We just brought our tent for having a nice shot for our memory. We were warned that we should never do that even for photo taking only. Ok, now we know it well we should never bring a tent to the peak of Doi Chiang Dao in all cases.
Note that you should read this review with your consideration, and search for more information about the place in Google before going there.
After that we went down to clear up our tent and ate our noodles. Luckily that we got 6 noodles, otherwise we would be so hungry. At that time it was almost 10 am already and very sunny but still very cold. While we were eating Big and Aom were packing up everything until we were ready to go.
Not so long after that..we arrived the cave Chiang Dao. I forgot to tell you that on the way down from Doi Chiang Dao we were very energetic running for about 1.5 hour from the top with lots of fun. We were having lunch in front of the cave and left our heavy luggages at the shop. Then we went into the cave and walked like chic and cool style, knew nothing about the cave..lol
The entrance fee is 20 Bath per person and if you want one lantern it costs 100 Baht (you can bring your own torch). There will be a guide leading us a tour who might be a housewife or people in that community. They told us that we had to pay them only 100 Baht. We wanted to pay higher but..as we still had to go to another place so we paid them as they required.
In the cave there are stalagmite and stalactite as well as buddha statue stick to above wall ( there are many patterns of buddha statue). In inner area it is a shrine of Jao Luang Kam Daeng which I just learned about it's story later on after coming back from this trip. If you want to know more about this shrine you can search further details by yourself. We continued walking.......
In the cave there are 2 main areas, bright and dark zone. It is this dark zone that we need a torch or lantern for the light, and we also need a guide and pay for them. You could arrive there first and consider whether to hire a guide or not.
We took about one hour in the cave which was very hot and sweaty like during Song Kran festival. I think this cave is beautiful because it has some interesting things, maybe it might used to be an underwater cave in the past. There are traces of water , and stones like it used to be full of corals. I can't help thinking that this place might used to an ocean. I would score this cave as much like 6 out of ten...very interesting.
We left the cave Chiang Dao and took motorbikes to Chiang Mai city for continuing our chic and cool trip.
So in summary we ended this trip in the city with nothing special. There are actually more stories I would like to share with you but that would be too much. I just would like to note that for those who are interested to visit Doi Chiang Dao please search for basic in useful information before going there. It is not a national park, but a wildlife sanctuary. Therefore you should travel with policy awareness and cautiousness.
This is an overview of what you might have to pay for this chic and cool trip.
1. Take a bus number 999 from Bangkok and get off at the entrance of Doi Luang. A return ticket will cost about 1,200 Baht per person. If you don't bring your own car you will have to pay for the vehicle going up from the start point, Denya at 1,200 Baht and Pangwua at 600 Baht.
2. You can also take a bus to Chiang Mai city like what we did, and take some vehicles like motorbikes to the start point. In this part you will have to pay 250 Baht a day and the petrol for a return trip is approximately 140 Baht. If you go 2 people, then you could share with your friend.
3. For going up to the top of Chiang Dao you will have to pay 40 Baht, another 40 Baht for a tent, and 300 Baht deposit for garbage (you will get it back when you go down).
4. If you already have an assistant you don't need any authority to lead the direction. One assistant will cost 500 Baht a day. We were there for 2 days one night and that's enough to see everything already, unless you want to take more photos.
5. The entrance fee of the cave Chiang Dao is 20 Baht per person. If you want to visit the dark zone you have to pay a guide at least 100 Baht plus a lantern for 100 Baht, or you can bring your own torch.
At last, thank you for following my story until the end here. I apologise for any possible mistake I might have made.......
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