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Introducing Chiang Dao

In a lush, jungle setting and slammed up against the limestone cliffs of a mighty doi (mountain), Chiang Dao is a very popular escape from the steaming urban plains of Chiang Mai. Local accommodation plays on this theme attracting families and 30-something travellers looking for good eating, plenty of relaxing and northern rural ambience. The star attraction in this mountainous playground is Doi Chiang Dao, allegedly Thailand's highest limestone mountain. It is a thickly forested peak with a revered cave shrine burrowed into the base, and trails popular with birders and trekkers.

Chiang Dao town isn't much but a dusty crossroads that hosts a colourful Tuesday morning market, when hill tribes come to sell their wares. The more charming part of town is 5km west along the road that leads to Tham Chiang Dao (Chiang Dao Cave). The surrounding village and guest houses are smack up against the mountain.

From the main four-way junction at Chiang Dao, those with their own wheels can head eastwards to visit Lahu, Lisu and Akha villages, which are all within 15km. Roughly 13.5km east from Rte 107 is the Lisu village of Lisu Huay Ko, where rustic accommodation is available. Without independent transportation, you can arrange hill-tribe treks through the guest houses at Chiang Dao.