Wat Tham Chiang Dao Temple

Wat Tham Chiang Dao Temple

Wat Tham Chiang Dao Temple
4.5
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4.5
71 reviews
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TheHotelTesters
Basel, Switzerland43 contributions
Couples
We randomely discovered the Wat Tham Chiang Dao on our route from Chiang Mai to the Golden Triangle. But the highlight on this (not very big) temple complex wasn't the temple itself. It were the enormous caves, whose entrance is hidden behind unimposing stairs. Once we entered the cave against a small fee, we found ourselves in a cave with many buddha statues and an information desk. There are two caves with electric lights, in one of them is a holy buddha (it's a national pilgrimage site). The other caves arn't lit. In order to access those, we had to get a local guide at the information desk who guided us trough the caves with only a oil lantern. We had our own guide, although you might be grouped if there are many people. The unlighted caves are worth the crawling and ducking down it takes to get there. They're huge and the path that leads to them is an adventure itself!

Tip 1: not suitable for claustrophobic, achluophobic, overweight or elder people (however a visit to the lighted caves is possbile for those).
Tip 2: a 100 baht tip is expected.
Tip 3: there arn't many options to eat something, so bring a picnic.
Written October 19, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

parrot45
Chiang Mai, Thailand29 contributions
Friends
I visited this temple three times during the four months I stayed in Chiang Dao from December 2014-March 2015. One time alone in January - when I also visited the Reclining Buddha cave - and then again with my Thai boyfriend in February, and then for a third time in March, for Makha Buccha day, in a group with my boyfriend and another person. So I have a pretty good knowledge of this place.

It's a huge temple complex in a very pleasant environment. There is an atmosphere of great spiritual energy, with many different small caves and Buddhist shrines. As usual at Thai temples, you can get your fortune told, or donate money for the day of the week you are born and your Chinese astrological birth sign. There is an area with Hindu god statues also. Usually, there are crowds of Buddhist pilgrims here, as well as many tourists. When you enter the area, you see a Thai school, and many shops and restaurants. There are special stalls selling all kinds of unusual traditional medicines. There is also a big pond where you can watch some big, colorful fish - and if you want, buy food to feed them. Also, there are many women making traditional baskets that are for sale. It's fascinating to watch them work.

There is no fee for going to the temple, but if you want to go in the Cave of the Reclining Buddha, you must pay 40b for the electricity, for which you get a ticket. If you want to go to other caves, you must hire a local guide with an electric lantern and pay 100b.

Getting here, if you're on a budget, is the most difficult part of this trip. The best idea would be to stay in one of the many guesthouses located along the route from Chiang Dao town to the temple. Take the Thaton/Fang bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Dao town (50 Thai baht) and then have a songtaew or moto taxi drop you off at one of the guesthouses. Many of the guesthouses rent motorcycles and bicycles, and from there, it's easy to walk or bicycle to this temple and the caves.

When I went alone the first time, this wasn't an option for me, as I had to go for the day from Chiang Dao Hill Resort. So I found the turn-off, not far from the bus stand in Chiang Dao, with big signs for The Nest and Malee's Nature Bungalow, and walked part of the 5 kms to the wat. I got a ride halfway through from a lady who sells soap at the caves, I walked back to the town in the evening, also! However, I found the walk very interesting, in a pleasant, forested area, with many sights along the way. It was very busy, height of tourist season, so I felt safe.

The second time, in February, when I went with my Thai boyfriend, the two of us also walked, and he got very tired! It wasn't as busy at this time, though it was Sunday. On the way, at the second highway junction from the turn-off, we were able to visit the beautiful Wat Mayeet, which was almost as nice as Tham Chiang Dao. This is a huge temple with colorful carvings of evil spirits and lost souls in Hell undergoing torture! We took a shared songtaew back to town, which was costly.

The third time, in March, I was in a group with my boyfriend and another Thai person. We were able to take the Chiang Dao Hill Resort vehicle there, as a detour from doing other errands for the resort. It was Makha Buccha, an important Buddhist worship day in Thailand. It was very busy then, with lots of Thai worshippers, lively Thai pop music, and vending stalls, though there didn't seem to be any special program going on (at least not in the afternoon when we got there). We were able to get there easily and quickly, but couldn't stay long that day.
Written June 25, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Christopher T
184 contributions
A normal temple outside the cave. Just at the entrance to the caves, I enjoyed watching the fish. There's various catfish species including maybe the mekong catfish or patin. I saw one or two sebarau and there's a good number of Thai mahseer Neolissochilus stracheyi. You can buy food to feed the fish.
Written November 3, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

John_MtEden
Auckland, New Zealand489 contributions
Couples
We visited this cave/temple complex and were very disappointed. The caves were unexceptional apart from some statues. The main pathway was well lit. The part where we had to pay for a guide with a lamp was abandoned because the lamp prevented us seeing beyond as it was lighting a small area with a too bright light. There was little air and it was very hot. The smell of paraffin was nauseating. We abandoned this part. The best part of the complex was the old temples and rocky setting. The staff were somewhat surly. An unusual experience in Thailand.
Written March 24, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Fujimaytan
San Francisco, CA53 contributions
Solo
The lamp lady is needed to go to the deeper parts of the cave and that is more interesting. However the ladies only know few words so it’s hard to get the information. If they don’t speak English, perhaps they can have an English board for explanations. I went at the end of the day and no one was there so it was nice but the lady really rushed so she can go home....
Written August 31, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Yonatan R
71 contributions
The place is nice and clean but it's nothing special compare to other average caves. You can go inside and see interesting parts of the cave. Defiantly won't go to Chiang Dao only for the caves but as part of longer trip.
Written February 25, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

James B
Phnom Penh, Cambodia5 contributions
When you exit the cave, you can easily walk to the white pagoda that is set in a lovely park beside a bodhi tree.
Written December 18, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Eugene Nyunt
Chachoengsao, Thailand712 contributions
Solo
ဂူများသည် son posiblemente las más famosas ပေမယ့် the resto de los grounds of the large ဘုရားကျောင်း are just as လှပတယ်။
ဂူ များ အာလုံးကြည့်ချင်ဆိုရင် ၂နာရီလောက် လိုပါလိမ့်မယ်။ If you know you’ll be satisfecho con las lit areas of the cuevas, ၄၅ မိနစ်လောက် should be suficiente.
Written December 15, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

ianx17489
Inverurie, UK827 contributions
Couples
Excellent place to visit. We were lucky in that, it was not very busy (strange for a thursday late morning, late november), however for us it was a bonus. The caves here are the main attraction. They are very well presented and interesting inside. The lit path is about 200m. (We have been to many caves, so did not feel the need to pay the extra 200 baht for a guide to the deeper darker sections. However if you have not visited many caves before it may well get worth it). There are lots of stalls outside so I guess during peak periods, festivals etc if must get quite hectic. As always the earlier you go the better
Certainly worth a visit.
Written November 29, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

vamsally
Seattle, WA709 contributions
We mostly passed by this wat since we were headed to the caves. Looked interesting enough but not enough to outshine the caves.
Written May 22, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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