The Great Escape to Chiang Dao
Thailand Mountain Trail has spent several years to investigate the most remote mountain trails in Northern Thailand before creating TGR1, the first Thai Great Route and long footpath of the country (LINK). Thanks to our extensive knowledge of those areas and long relationship with local people, our organization is the only one to bring runners and trekkers in those mountains.
This 3-day trip will lead us to the last part of TGR1 until Chiang Dao, the highest mountain range of Thailand. From the jungle in the valley, we will run up to the highest summits and hill-tribe villages of Thailand. It’s steep, wild and magnificent. It’s a privilege to be there alone running in a fascinating area barely unknown from the tourists.
Characteristics of the Trip
8,950 THBAll-inclusive price
We start the 1st day by tackling a remarkable, dense bamboo jungle, acting as a natural frontier between Karen country and Hmong country. While the former live in the valley, the latter live in the high country.
After a long and slow climb, the village of Mong Ngo, with its bamboo houses nestling against the mountainside, appears at 1300m above sea level. The view all around is imposing and wide. We are surrounded by an ocean of greenery until we reach the lovely village of Kio Bua Ha.
After passing this village, the route follows a magnificent river during 10 kilometers. First it’s only a stream that runs in a wild jungle. Then it’s a big river alongside the famous Mae Taeng valley. After 4 kilometers finally we turn left to follow another stream and come back to the jungle until it comes out at a waterfall.
On arrival at the village of Kup Kap, our overnight place, we get a wonderful and wide view over the valley of Mae Taeng. It’s a great reward after a steep 2k climb from the waterfall to reach this Lahu village located on a ridge at 1100m. We will enjoy the scenery until the end of sunset and before having dinner with a local family. We will sleep here in bamboo houses built in the purest traditional Lahu style.
From Kup Kap on the 2nd day the run is mountainous, the atmosphere is more alpine. We leave the village with regret by running a path down for a couple of kms. The biggest challenge of the day is now waiting for us: 800m elevation gain in 2 kilometers on a steep ridge to conquer Doi Pha Sam Liam (1650m). At the summit the reward is huge. As far as our eyes can see, we can enjoy a sea of green mountains all around.
Continuing on a ridge in a beautiful pine forest, we arrive at Doi Pakhia (1680m) and can observe for the 1st time the massive mountain range of Chiang Dao. Standing out against the sky, it is the only alpine mountain in Thailand. With a profusion of lesser peaks and ridges, it is also the most imposing and beautiful one.
In the Hmong village of Pakhia, we will make a break at the foothill of the mountain range before tackling with the final part. Depending on the time of the year, we go through or around the massif from south to north. Whatever the route, we will go up for another tough 700m elevation gain on a steep path. It will give us a unique opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere of sheer cliffs and spectacular rock walls before going down on technical trail to the final Lisu village of Na Lao Mai.
This traditional Lisu village offers a privileged view on the whole mountain range of Chiang Dao. TMT has developed strong links with locals. Food is excellent and atmosphere is great; the night will be sweet at the foothills of the mountains in traditional bamboo houses.
The 3rd day of the trip leads us to the summit of Doi Chiang Dao. Standing out against the sky, mysterious and fascinating, Chiang Dao is the only alpine mountain range in Thailand. Of all the high mountains of the country it is also the most imposing and the most inaccessible. From the start at the foothills of the massif there begins a long climb through rocks and tropical forest in a majestic alpine décor.
There are 10 kilometers to cross inside this tooth-shaped massif, and a gain of 1500-metre elevation to negotiate up to the summit. We have many opportunities to enjoy the several 2000m-high peaks around us before reaching the highest one at 2225m.
At the summit the scenery is wonderful. It’s a long view on a series of steep peaks and high hills all round. It looks like we are at the center of Thailand and we can observe the whole country. After a long break to enjoy this moment, we run back a different route on a long technical way down the valley. With 1500m elevation loss on a long technical trail we have many opportunities to observe the whole mountain range from another side (west side) until we reach Na Lao Mai, our final point.
Kup Kap is a wonderful Lahu village. Located on a ridge, the view on the valleys and the other mountains is wide and impressive. We could enjoy both beautiful sunrise and sunset from the village. Even if the village welcomes some tourists, it has stayed very traditional with typical bamboo houses. We will eat with a local family which we have made relationship for a long time.
Na Lao Mai is a small Lisu village that benefits from its unique location at the foothill of the mountain range of Chiang Dao. The view from the village on the mountains and the atmosphere of the place are unique. The weather in Na Lao Mai is also much colder than in the rest of the country. We will stay in bamboo huts owned by local Lisu families and will enjoy dinner and breakfast at their home with a magnificent view on the mountains.