There are a few interesting caves and cavern complexes within easy range of Chiang Mai. The nearest is Muang On Cave and this is usually combined with tours to San Kamphaeng Hot Spring or zipline adventure playgrounds in Mae On District. The labyrinthine caves at Chiang Dao are farther, but definitely worth making a detour for when heading north to Fang.
CHIANG DAO CAVE
Tham Chiang Dao is a 70km trip from central Chiang Mai and is buried deep within Thailand’s third highest mountain, the 2,175-metre-high Doi Chiang Dao. The caves and passages which make up this complex are said to be more than 13kms long altogether. A fish pond, ornate sala pavilions and a shrine lead the way to the entrance to the caves.
The first few chambers are fitted with lights. Guides are available for those who want to go farther, but even they will not go deeper than about one kilometre into the caves. Chiang Dao residents say the caves are steeped in legend and sacred. This is evident from the large number of Buddha statues and shrines in the initial chambers. Those who do go deeper into the caves with guides get to see amazing stalactites and stalagmites. More on what to do and see in Chiang Dao.
Muang On Cave: Ban Sahakorn, A. Muang On, 50130 | Open: 08:00-17:00 (Daily) | Entrance Fee: 30 B | Map
MUANG ON CAVE
Tham Muang On, as it is called in Thai, is around 30kms from Chiang Mai’s Old City. It is cavernous and packed with stalactites, stalagmites, small shrines and Buddhist statuary. A 10-metre Reclining Buddha statue is a recent addition to the collection. This, with an imprint of a dinosaur skeleton on one wall, and all the other artefacts lend an out-of-this-world aura to Muang On Cave.
The cave is inside a hill. Colourful maga serpent statues mark the beginning of a flight of stairs to the hill’s summit and the entrance to the cave. The caves are lit up inside. Knowledgeable locals are available as guides for those who wish to gain more insights into the history of the cave and its unusual collection of relics.
Chiang Dao Cave: A. Chiang Dao, Chiang Mai 50170 | Open: 08:00-17:00 (Daily) | Entrance Fee: 40 B | Map