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 TMT01, the first Thai Great Route and long footpath of the country. 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 TMT01 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 tough trip with much elevation gain but what a privilege to run alone on wild trails in fascinating areas.
Characteristics of the Trip
8,450 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. It’s wild and beautiful, it’s a blessing to run in such an area. Finally we leave the jungle when the slope begins to go up. It’s a complete change of atmosphere; we are now uncovered and the mountains opens up in front of us.
It’s a long and slow climb exposed to the sun and the mountains around. It’s both beautiful and tough as the sun begins to beat down. After one hour appears at 1300m above sea level the village of Mong Ngo located on a pass with its bamboo houses nestling against the mountainside. The view all around is now imposing and wide. For the next kilometers we are surrounded by an ocean of greenery until we reach the lovely village of Kio Bua Ha.
After passing the village, the route follows a magnificent river during 10 kilometers. First it’s a stream that runs in gorges in a wild jungle. It’s not a trail anymore, we hike directly in the water. Progress is difficult and we must be careful. When finally the stream joins the big river of Mae Taeng, it’s getting easier until it comes out at a waterfall.
It’s now 4k and 600m up on a steep slope until the overnight place. On arrival at the village of Kup Kap, we get a wonderful and wide view over the valley of Mae Taeng. It’s a great reward after a difficult climb from the waterfall. This Lahu village is located on a ridge at 1100m. and offer a great scenery at sunset. We will have dinner and sleep at a local family 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 before tackling with the final part. Now we have to go around the massif of Chiang Dao for another tough 700m elevation gain on a steep path.On the ridge line, stand in the distance the magnificent mountains of Chiang Dao and Doi Nang. Further down, we can observe as well the Lisu bamboo village where will sleep tonight. It’s not so far but the way down can be steep and technical.
In the morning of the last day we continue our trip by entering the large valley of Nong Khatae. Down in the valley we are surrounded by 3 big and imposing mountains: Doi Chiang Dao in the back, Doi Nong Khatae on the left and Doi Nang Non, the sleeping lady mountain and our objective, in the front. It’s one of the best places we know to observe the high mountains of Thailand and no other tourists have never heard of it.
After a wonderful way up in the jungle across large rocky boulders, we enter deeply in the valley of Nong Khatae and say good bye to the Doi Chiang Dao massif that offers us its best side. We reach a very remote and poor Lisu village at the foothill of Doi Nang Non, our next objective.
The way up to Doi Nang Non is steep and narrow and offers at its top a great view on the valley and the small Lahu village. We pass on areas near the summit at 1700m high that were previously famous for poppies crops. This time is now over so we can enjoy these trails peacefully. Finally we tackle a long way down to reach the valley of Chiang Dao, 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.
Ban Fa Suai is a small Lisu village that benefits from its unique location at the foothill of the mountain range of Chiang Dao. The view on the mountains and the atmosphere of the place are unique. The weather there 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.