Chiang Dao, Thailand Restaurant Review: Chiang Dao Nest 1 (and Chiang Dao Caves!)

Posted by on Dec 6, 2013 in Travel | 0 comments

On one of our days in Chiang Mai, some friends from South Africa who now live in the city arranged for us to visit Chiang Dao Caves and have lunch in the area.  Chiang Dao is about an hour north of Chiang Mai and the drive to get there is stunning, through gorgeous countryside and lush rainforest.

Chiang Dao Caves

Chiang Dao Caves

The Chiang Dao caves themselves are worth seeing.  Temples dot the grounds surrounding the caves; statues of Buddha sit up in the mountains overseeing the goings on below; and the mountains loom majestically.

Gorgeous pond and carvings at the entrance to  the caves.

Beautiful pond and carvings at the entrance to the caves.

At the entrance to the caves there are a number of little shops that sell lotions, potions, herbs and roots of all shapes and sizes. English is not spoken, but my mum managed to communicate well enough to buy some lovely tiger balm and jasmine oil.

Roots and remedies!

Roots and remedies!

In the caves many of the tunnels are not electrified, so to explore them you need a guide with a gas lantern to show the way. While there are big, beautiful open spaces inside, there are also some tight points where you need to get on your knees to clamber through some of the smaller “doorways.” I had read some reviews on Tripadvisor that said you don’t really need a guide to explore the caves: you absolutely do.  The path is not in the least bit obvious, especially when it comes to crawling through the small openings and some of the path can be a bit treacherous, which the guide pointed out.

Temple on the grounds of the caves

Temple on the grounds of the caves

In one section of the caves hundreds of cute little insect bats hang from the ceiling (we cared for orphaned and injured insect and fruit bats when I was growing up, so I have a soft spot for bats).  Some of the limestone formations are really gorgeous. Deep inside the caves there is a shrine to a Burmese hermit and a reclining Buddha, which is not accessible during the rainy season because the sandy passage floods.

For lunch we visited the wonderful Chiang Dao Nest. There are two “nests;” both of which have restaurants and little bungalows for overnight guests. Nest one is further up the mountain and the restaurant serves primarily Western meals. Nest two, which is set at the base of the mountain, serves Thai food.  We visited Nest One. 

The Nest is very vegan-friendly, with a good number of vegan options clearly marked on the menu.  My mum and I ordered a roasted pumpkin and pepper salad and a steamed vegetable salad with tofu croutons and peanut dressing to share.  Both were exceptional!

Pumpkin

Roast pumpkin and bell pepper salad

The roasted pumpkin and pepper salad came was sprinkled with sunflower and pumpkin seeds and dressed in a balsamic vinegar & olive oil dressing.  The red bell peppers were cooked to perfection; warm, but still nice and crispy.

Steamed vegetable salad with tofu croutons and peanut sauce

Steamed vegetable salad with tofu croutons and peanut sauce

I don’t think I had tried a steamed vegetable salad before, but this was outstanding.  The veggies were perfect: warm but crunchy. The tofu croutons were great and the peanut sauce was just phenomenal. Slightly spicy, creamy deliciousness. I’m trying this at home!

Gorgeous!

Gorgeous!

The thing that really makes Chiang Dao Nest great is the setting. Surrounded by mountains and lush rainforest, this little restaurant has everything going for it! It’s definitely worth the trek. 

Location: 273 M.5, Chiang Dao, Thailand
Hours: 8am – 9:30pm Daily

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