Wat Tham Pha Phlong
A fantastic cave temple / monastery perched on the side of the Doi Luang Chiang Dao mountain.
Roughly 1km from both Nest 1 and 2 to the bottom, and then up 500 steps to the top of the chedi. From the top you get great views of the valley and surrounding mountains. It can also be a very rewarding birdwatching spot.
A visit to Wat Tham Pha Phlong combines buddhism, nature and exercise and is a definite highlight of the area.
Chiang Dao Cave
Explore the famous Chiang Dao Cave (or Caves). Hire a cave guide (with a lantern) inside the cave and they will take you on a fascinating loop, highlighting various formations enroute. Fun for all the family, but a reasonable level of agility is required to navigate some of the smaller holes. There is also an area that is lit that can be visited without a guide.
Chiang Dao Cave is about 300metres from Nest 2, about 1km from Nest 1.
Yang Phu To Hot Springs
Located around 7km from Nest 1 and 2, there are two parts to these hot springs. The first is a public area where there are concrete rings with hot spring water flowing through to form an individual upright bath. These are not very aesthetically pleasing, and they are often busy, but they are free! Before you get to the public ones there are a couple of private hot spring pools that you can rent for the hour. These are very pleasant if the maintenance and cleanliness levels are good. Most of the time it is best to book these in advance (ask our staff for help with this.). From Nest 1 and 2 this is a great destination for cyclists, and maybe walkers. There is also a small Karen Hilltribe Village next to the hot springs.
Sri Sangwan Waterfall
Part of the Pha Daeng National Park (sometimes Pha Dang). The Sri Sangwan waterfall is a very pleasant spot to spend some time, particularly in the hotter months. Kids (and adults!) love climbing up and down the waterfall and, while there is an element of danger, with care it is suprisingly easy and relatively safe. There are a few shallowish pools to splash around in too. The entrance ticket gets you into Pong Arng Hot Springs too. Both are located around 35km from Nest 1 and 2.
Pong Arng Hot Springs
A very well laid out attraction. You can see the pools where the hot springs actually originate (extremely hot - not recommended to even test with a finger or toe!), and then relax in one of the two large public hot spring baths, according to your temperature preference. Seems to be well maintained most of the time.
This is a sprawling Chinese, ex-KMT, Yunnanese village. Noteable for signs in Chinese, people speaking Mandarin, and some Chinese architecture. While the village itself is of moderate interest, the real highlight is the Tayong Yunnan Noodlle shop. Unsurprisingly it offers very highly rated noodle soup, and a few other specialities including delicious kyoza. Definitely worth including on a trip to the nearby Pha Daeng National Park (Sri Sangwan Waterfall and Pong Arng Hot Spring).
Chiang Dao Elephant Training Centre / Camp
It is debatable whether animal attractions should be on anyones list of things to do while on holiday, and this includes riding elephants. It is probably best to educate yourself with the pros and cons before making your decision. If you do decide that you'd like to ride an elephant the Chiang Dao Elephant Training Centre / Camp offers shows, rides and bamboo rafting. It is located just over 20km from Nest 1 and 2 on the road towards Chiang Mai.
Chiang Dao Tuesday Market
Every Tuesday there is a large-ish weekly market in Chiang Dao town, near the bus station (about 7km from both Nests). While there are probably not many things that most visitors would want to buy, it is interesting to see the villagers from the surrounding mountain villages come down to do their weekly shop. Many are from hilltribes, with some wearing their traditional costumes. It is also fun to be part of the hustle and bustle of the market which does get very busy at times. It starts early and finishes around midday.
Doi Luang Chiang Dao
Doi Luang Chiang Dao is the name of the big mountain in Chiang Dao. Chiang Dao Nest 1 and 2 are located just next to this mountain. It is home to a wide variety of unique species of wildlife, birds, flora and fauna, as well as a variety of hilltribe villages. The mountain also lends itself to a range of pursuits. Trekking up the top of this mountain is a highlight for many (assuming the National Park manages issues around sanitation, and rubbish, at the camping area beneath the summit). There are numerous other hiking trails probably best undertaken with local guides. Birdwatching near it's southerly ranger station, Den Ya Khat (DYK), is very rewarding. Cycing the trail to DYK or Pha Kia or along the paved road to Nalao Mai or Muang Khong are adventurous, challenging but also fun.
Chiang Dao Nature Trail
This nature trail starts about 300metres from Nest 1 (between Nest 1 and Wat Tham Pha Phlong). It basically goes up over and then back down the hill behind Nest 2, and finishes at the Chiang Dao Cave. It is well marked and suitable for most (assuming a reasonable level of agility and fitness - children 10 years and up can do it without a problem). It does get muddy, treacherous and slippery in places during the rainy season, but is still possible.
Suggested one day loop from either Nest 1 or 2 ... Walk to Tham Pha Phlong, walk the nature trail, visit Chiang Dao Cave (maybe have lunch at Nest 2 or one of the food places in front of the cave), then walk back.