Doi Chiang Dao (or Chiang Dao Hill) is in Chiang Dao Wildlife Reserve area, Amphoe Chiang Dao. Its peak is called Doi Luang Chiang Dao(which is slightly distorted from ‘Piang Dao’ or ‘at the level of the stars’, the word local people call this hill.). It is a 230-250 million years old limestone massif, which is a part of the Thanon Thong Chai Range. Doi Chiang Dao is located 2,195 meters high above sea level, regarded as the third highest peak of all peaks in Thailand, following Doi Inthanon, and Doi Pha Hom Pok. From the plain at the top of the hill, tourists can enjoy a picturesque surrounding landscape, ranging from Talay Mok (or the sea of fog) in Amphoe Chiang Dao’s side, Doi Sam Pee Nong, Doi Chiang Dao mountain range until the far away Doi Inthanon. However, climbing up to stand on the top of the hill in a large group is still not appropriate, because a variety of plant there can be destroyed.
Doi Luang Chiang Dao is categorized as Ratchaburi rock unit, caused from deposition of sea sediments, and limestone fossils. It is assumed that this area used to be the sea, where all animal carcasses, such as corals and shells were piled up here. Doi Luang Chiang Dao has no reservoirs, no any natural water resources. Its few soil surface, rare water, and cold weather make the hill the only place in Thailand that is home to semi-alpine plant, which are low shrubbery, and herbaceous plant. The trees that grow here are Himalayan plant mutated into local plant. Therefore, we can find many flowers and plants that only grow in this specific place, which are Kho Chiang Dao, Singto Chiang Dao, Singto Konta Khao, Singto Ta Daeng, Singto Leb Yieaw, Ua Pak Foi Chiang Dao, Ngu Kieaw Pak Muang, Rong Tao Nari Muang Karn, and Uang Nang Tien. Moreover, the hill is also the habitat of abundant unique beautiful plants, for example, Tien Nok Kaew (its flower resembles a parrot shape), Kho Chiang Dao or Palm Rak Mek (which can grow in limestone condition and around mountain slopes), Yuea Chong or Tien Mor Kha (which is the biggest plant in Tien species), Chompoo Pim Jai, and Kularb Luaey Chiang Dao or Sri Chantra. Additionally, Doi Luang Chiang Dao is also a habitat of rare wild animals that almost become extinct, such as Saming Chiang Dao butterflies, Bar-Tailed Pheasants, Long-tailed Goral (that the locals call Deva Horse), and common serows.
A tourist who wants to visit Doi Chiang Dao must acquire an approval letter from the Director of Wildlife Reserve Division, Royal Forest Department at least 2 weeks in advance before the visit. For more information, please contact 02 561 2947. Chiang Dao Wildlife Reserve Area is open every year for travelling only in 5 months from 1 November – 31 March. As a recommendation, to enjoy the atmosphere at Doi Luang Chiang Dao at its fullest without getting too exhausted, tourist should take at least 3 days 2 nights. A trip to the site starts at Chiang Dao cave, where visitors can find guides, porters, and taxi buses for dropping at the starting point. The taxi bus renting fee is about 900 baht, and 300 baht per one personal porter. There are no any tourist facilities on Chiang Dao Mountain. Visitors must prepare themselves their own sleeping bags, food, and water. To descend the mountain , tourists must take the trail near Ban Tham, which is located near Chiang Dao cave. The trail is rather steep, so it could shorten the distance down. However, It is quite difficult to climb up.