Boasting some of the most spectacular stalactite and stalagmite formations in the country, Chiang Dao Cave stretches many kilometres into the mountains. Legend has it that it connects with several other caves, before eventually emerges at the other end somewhere in Shan State across the border. The official figure, though, is 12 kilometres, and you can explore only a small part of it.
The cave is part of the 2,100-metre-high Doi Chiang Dao mountain range, the third highest peak in Thailand formed by pushed up sea floors some 230-250 million years ago. For the most part, the cave is well lit, but as you progress further in, even a powerful flashlight is useless.
Further up from Chiang Dao Cave, a visit to the Padung Village introduces you to the ‘Long Neck Karen’ ethnic hill-tribe. The women wear brass rings around their necks, wrists and ankles as part of their culture. It is a good idea to explore, with respect, the village a little to get a feel of their culture and way of life, before supporting their income by purchasing a few souvenirs.