Doi Luang Chiang Dao is the third highest mountain in Thailand after Doi Inthanon and Doi Pa Hom Pok. It is well-known amongst Thai and foreign tourists who travel there yearly to challenge its peak, an exercise to cultivate one’s body and mind.
November is the beginning of the misty winter season in Northern Thailand, when the magic of its colorfully dense jungle attracts travelers from all corners of the country, and the world. The mountain areas of Thailand are home to ancient people and legends and can be visited during different months of the year for the purpose of ‘winning the mountains’, a traditional challenge for the Lanna People.
Doi Luang Chiang Dao, located in the Chiang Dao District of Chiang Mai, is a 2.225 meters high limestone mountain and comes under the Wild Animals Protection Area. It is one of Thailand’s many wonders, a complex ensemble of mountain peaks that are an important water source to the local people and home to rare and endemic flora and fauna. Thanks to the area’s fertile forest, Doi Luang Chiang Dao has more than 1.700 different species of fauna, including 160 varieties of mammals, 78 kinds of reptiles, 105 kinds of butterflies, 203 kinds of birds and 36 kinds of fish. 50 million years ago this area was covered by the sea. Sediments started to deposit on the sea floor; they piled up and compressed to eventually emerge from the sea as mountains.
Local Lanna people who live in the Doi Luang Chiang Dao area inherit their customs and beliefs from their ancestors, passed on from generation to the other; these beliefs form the core values of their life today. Lanna people believe that Doi Luang Chiang Dao is the sanctuary of Gods that protects them, and a ceremony is held every year as a mark of respect to the mountain divinities.
Rules for visitors to the Doi Luang Chiang Dao Wild Animals Protection Area are strict. The first requirement is registration, where you will be asked to list all items you take into the park (including potential garbage such as water bottles and carrier bags) and pay a deposit which will be returned once you exit the park and have brought back all that you took in with you. You leave only your lightest footprints in this delicate ecosystem.
Lighting fires or singing songs might disturb the local fauna and are forbidden activities inside the park. Only a maximum of 200 visitors are allowed in a day. You can take advantage of the 3 camping areas in Doi Luang Chiang Dao for longer stays in the park.
For those of you who love challenges and support ecotourism, tackling Doi Luang Chiang Dao Mountain will reward you with spectacular flora and the rare animals you will encounter. Allow Doi Luang Chiang Dao to regale you with some unforgettable travel memories, the Lanna way.
HOW TO GET THERE
To reach Doi Luang Chiang Dao from Chiang Mai, take highway 107 to Chiang Dao District, turn left at km 76, and go straight for 5 km to the Chiang Dao Cave. From there, a minibus will take you to the Ranger Station. Distance from Chiang Mai is 77 km. The hike to Doi Luang Chiang Dao summit should take about 5 hours.
Doi Luang Chiang Dao on Wikepedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doi_Chiang_Dao
A comprehensive description by Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Chiang_Dao