Thursday, January 13, 2011

Authentic Chiang Mai Doi Luang - Chiang Dao

Photo by All Rights Reserved 2011

Having first seen Doi Luang Mountain 20 or so years ago it was and still is a magical place making the hair on the nape of your neck prickle as it comes it to view never failling to conjure up Buddhist legends and the spiritual world referenced in chronicles and fairy tales of the Lanna kingdom which still occupies the eight northern provinces of Thailand to this day
The 'spiritual home' of the people of the north and a personal totem Doi Luang Doi Chiang Dao is Thailand's third highest peak. Located in the heart of the north in the province of Chiang Mai. A limestone massif standing some 2,225 metres high. With its striking silhouette erupting from the fertile rice growing valley floor up into sub - alpine conditions.

A place of remote beauty, explore challenging nature trails to stunning panoramic mountains views. Discover a rich variety of Montane Bird Life and for orchid enthusiasts endemic orchids and flora with the excitement of chance encounters on a nocturnal animal watching trip during the dark phase of the moon for an optimum Its status as a protected Animal Sanctuary with limited access allows Doi Luang to preserve its unique place in our world.

Typical tour agencies, not knowing the area well only promote the caves which are easily accessable by road, though definately worth visiting particularily the deeper caverns that are normally missed out on standard group tours.

Travel with an expert independent tour operator and the mountain gives up its secrets from a one day "Remote Trails City Escape" and overnight "Stunning Mountain Nature Trail Experiences". Balancing nature with the Indigenous tribal groups of mainly Hmong, Karen and Lisu People, already settled for generations and living on its verdent slopes, tribal cultural experiences can be combined with a theraphutic soak at a local hot spring or relaxing at a refreshing seasonal waterfalls in a forest grotto.

Extended programs combining elephant Mahout training programs passing on the in depth knowledge and skills of the traditional local Indigenous Karen elephant keeper's followed by traditional travel by bamboo Raft along scenic river ways or take a cool ride by white water rafting along one of the best stretches of the Mae Nam Taeng River with some extreme class 5 rapids or opt for the fun for all class 3 rapids joining one of the many qualified outfits operating on the river, but choose wisely.

Recommendations: Book well ahead as trips run on a limited departure basis each month. Travel with knowledgable qualified guides respectful of the environment and communities. Visits to the Animal Sanctuary are seasonal. If travelling alone contact travel site forums such as to put together a small group ahead of your arrival to Chiang Mai.

Written by Caroline Marsh.

Caroline Marsh is co-founder of Chiang Mai based independent ethical tour operator .."Expertise, Ethical travel and Authentic Experiences contribute to making a difference to local communities and the environment." passionate about new experiences and travel; preaches and teaches community environmental well being; Caroline writes for travel sites, regional travel magazines and her own blog Authentic Chiang Mai promoting her adopted city of more than 20years!; coordinates local 'grassroots' community peoples actions through Holistic Environment Urban Schools Program (HEUSP)and a member of the umbrella network group Lanna Community Life Network (LCLN) formerly NCCN. Visit channel

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