The wondering Long-neck Karen and the mysterious journey to Chiang Dao Cave
The set-up tour in Chiang Mai that is less popular among the tourists can’t miss “the long-neck Karen village and Chiang Dao Cave”. Explore the mystery of nature with the beautiful and exquisite stalagmite and stalactite at Chiang Dao Cave. And find out why the Karen ladies wear the accessories over their neck as long as possible is the ideal beauty.
Even though the location of both attractions is not the close but mostly touring program of Chiang Mai join them together as the same journey since it doesn’t take too much time to travel from each other and quite convenient to visit.
About Chiang Dao Cave
Here we will introduce you another exciting cave site in Chiang Mai which rich in the various bizarre shape of the stalagmite and stalactite that irresistible for us to drive our imagination. And another charm of this cave is a stream that is flowing from the hole throughout the year with no any clue to show its draught.
The creek runs descending to the basin packed with the numerous fish that swim merrily among the stimulating and shady environment from the lush trees. Moreover, at the entrance of the cave is also the venue of Wat Chiang Dao, a Buddhist temple where the place is a house of “Phra Than Jai” (Instant Blessing Buddha) that it believes that the devotee would be blessed for one wish instantly from the sacred Buddha.
The Myth of Chiang Dao Cave
Chao Luang Kham Daeng:
It mentioned that Chiang Dao Cave is an old hole with the mysterious background. It is a story of “Chao Luang Kham Daeng,” a son of the sovereign ruler of Payao that abandon his land to follow a lady who transfigures to be the golden deer. The prince fell for her beauty deeply, and once she was invisible into the cave, thence the prince came after her and never return. After that, the villagers believed that prince Kham Daeng turned to be the divinity who protect the cave; therefore they altogether built the shrine to dedicate to him and named as “Pho Luang Kham Daeng Shrine”.
The story continued with the belief that in any auspicious night that the sky is clear, a luminous sphere looks similar to the Buddha’s relic would float in the air from the backward of the cave and moves to the east in about 5 minutes. Then, the blast echoes at the same time that the light vanishes. The dwellers believe that it might be the spirit of Prince Luang Kham Daeng that go back to visit his homeland in Payao.
On the other hand, there’s another story of the cave which is once upon a time, there’s a hermit named “Brahma Ruesi” whose powerful sorcerer. The hermit called for the meeting with the participation of celestial being, Intra, Brahma, giant, demon, naga serpent, etc. to cast the magic things included the gold Buddha image, the gold Bodhi Tree, the magic elephant or Erawan, the magic sword or Sri Kan Chai Sword, the ambrosia, and the magic horse, for instance. And those of things were stored inside the innermost of the cave with the strict protection by the potent celestial called “Chao Luang Kham Daeng”.
Once, the two villagers entered the hole to find those supernatural objects with the purpose to bring them back with them. Unfortunately, they both were destined to misfortune since they couldn’t make the way out of the hole. Afterward, the villager found them accidentally, one was no more, and another was still alive. The resident brought him back to heal, unluckily the man deceased within a week after. Since then, there’s a lot of incidents regarding the people that got into the hollow and never return that the dwellers believe that those people are all sinful intention to possess the treasure that hidden mysteriously inside the cave. The legend then became belief and faith of the people toward Luang Chiang Dao Cave from then on.
Phra Than Jai:
Apart from that, there are many more exciting stories about the cavern, for example, the marble Buddha image that has lasted long together with the cave for a long time ago. The statue was stolen and caused that people nearly expired and had to return the sacred image at the place. Or a story of “Phra Than Jai” that enshrined inside the hole with the high reputation and holiness to bless the believer instantly.
Presently, Chiang Dao Cave is one of the attractive natural resources of tourism which appeals to the numbers of tourist both local and abroad to visit and experience the exotic and exquisite stalagmite and stalactite inside the cavern.
Taking Tour at Chiang Dao Cave
The cave nestles in the area of the hillside of Doi Luang mount or also called Doi Ang Saloong as one of the largest and most mystic caves in Thailand. At the entrance, it is a sala (pavilion) and stairway with the multi-tier Burmese style shelter orderly layered. Also, there is a clear water stream runs past the mouth of the cave with diverse species of fish. The site allows the visitors to feed the fish and to visit and explore inside the cave the tourist shall contact for the touring guide at the front of the cavern.
After you pass through the stairway to enter the cave, you will spot the multiple routes leading to various holes inside the cave; Tham Ma – the horse cave (735 meters), Tham Kaew – the crystal cave (474 meters), Tham Nahm – the water cave (660 meters), Tham Phra Norn – the reclining Buddha cave (360 meters), and Tham Sue Dao – the leopard cave (540 meters). Each route is packed with the assorted shapes of the magnificent stalagmite and stalactite that openly allow your imagination. Besides, the cave enshrines the Buddha image for the tourist to pay homage for luck, as well.
What should know before Taking Tour at Chiang Dao Cave
The THB10 / person admission fee is a supplement. And specific for the way to the reclining Buddha cave (Tham Phra Norn) provides the light along the path, while there’s no any lighting within other caves. And the cave is restricted to enter without the local guide since some area of the trail need to go through the narrows; also it’s slippery and has to mind your head. So, without any expert touring guide may potentially dangerous. The touring guide is local that rotating to lead the tourist to visit the cave and it is about 5-6 people per group that is appropriate for one guide (and enough light from the lantern). The visitor shall pay for the lantern fuel that used for the cave trip about THB10 plus tip for the guide as a recompense.
Once we enter the cave, there is the Burmese style Buddha image, Naga serpent staircases, Singha statue, and the bell-carrying man. The first direction is the way to Tham Ma (the horse cave) with 735 meters distance and one-way route. The end of this path is a steep abyss, so to get back from the cave the visitor shall walk back on the same way for a bit and take the stairway to exit to another path which leads to Than Kaew (the crystal cave). Tham Nahm (the water cave) is deep down from Tham Phra Norn about 40 meters, and it’s forbidden to enter during the rainy season caused by the water that fills up the cave. Tham Phra Norn, on the other hand, is packed with the various forms of the stalagmite and stalactite – tortoise, hippopotamus, broken breast giant, elephant’s ear, lotus petal rock, and supine Buddha image that claimed to build in 1857 by the Burmese artisan named “Mong Phao”. The statue is a reclining Buddha who is called “Phra Mahakassapa”.
Travel to Chiang Dao Cave
Chiang Dao Cave is in Chiang Dao district which is about 77 km from the city of Chiang Mai. To get there, drive along the road to Chiang Dao district about 72 km, then turn left and drives more 5 km you will arrive at the destination. The way is good pavement and ample parking at the location with a big resting pavilion.
Discover the long-neck Karen
From Chiang Dao Cave, we will guide you to the Long-Neck Karen Hill-Tribe Village at Mae Rim district which takes about 1.5 hour’s drive. To plan the trip, the tourist that is not prefer to buy the tour package, it is not too complicated to pack both locations onto your one-day trip. And feel free to adjust the schedule whether to start at the cave or the Karen village.
Nevertheless, we recommend to visit the cave in the morning session, so you have plenty of time to wander around the area, and it is not too dangerous to walk inside the dark cavern, including the trip to come back to the city. In case you have accommodation in town since Mae Rim which is the location of Karen Village is closer to the city.
“The Long-Neck Karen,” the extraordinary human-being
As we know in general, Chiang Mai is plentiful for the tourist attractions that never enough for the tourist both domestic and overseas. However, another thing that is remarkable amazing of the tourism in this intriguing province is “the long-neck Karen” that is hard to see in general, and it is here at Mae Rim, Chiang Mai.
Formerly, the long-neck Karen existed in Mae Hong Son province that anyone who would like to see them needed to visit there only. However, the long-neck Karen village is established here at Mae Rim district in Chiang Mai with a proper population of them inside this lovely community. The site opens to the tourists to experience the life of Karen including to the local products and cultivation,
When we enter the village terrain, we will spot the residence of the Red Karen that constructs connectedly. They bring lots of products and souvenirs to sell together with many performing shows such as crossbow show, traditional music playing, or pound half-milled rice with the traditional pestle and mortar demonstration show. Sometimes, the presentation of rice farming and plough the field will be included.
Highlight of The Long-Neck Karen
The highlight of the place which is the long-neck Karen is innermost of the village. This is the most critical location of the community that needs to walk along the edge of the levee that connectable between the outbound and inbound space of the property. The walkway passes the food center that offers food, coffee, and drinks with the service by the staff. And about 200-300 meters walk, the picture of the giraffe-like hill-tribe ladies are doing the routine life – textile weaving, basketry, or sell the souvenirs that are the local handicrafts at the front of their houses would be such an exciting scene for the tourists. The visitor is allowed to take the photo of them or if you fancy to try on the brass ring around your neck is also possible.
Commonly, the majority of the tourists who visit the place is foreign tourists that might be from the expensive admission fee which is about THB500 per head. By the way, we think it would be one of your most amazing experience that worth for your money, indeed.
The location beside the long-neck Karen, there are other tribes including Hmong, Palaung, Lahu, Sgaw Karen, and Akha. And each tribe get dress differently and attractive enough for you to witness by your sight. Furthermore, inside the venue on the right is the hub for the elephant riding that can bring you to Pang Chang Mae Sa (Mae Sa Elephant Camp). So, for those whom interesting to take the ride can buy the ticket at the entrance of the village.
Get to Know the Karen
The long-neck Karen is a unique culture that distinctive from urban life. They call themselves “Padong”. The group migrated from Myanmar with its significant style of the ladies’ costume with the layers of brass neck ring to elongate their necks which is the ideal beauty of the tribe. According to the myth noted that they witnessed the charming swan and wished to have the delicate and beautiful neck just like the swan. Therefore, they started to put on the ring on their neck.
The second story said that the tribe resided in the wood and sent to death by the evil that transforms to be the tiger to eat the Padong ladies to harm them to the inheritor. Thence, the Padong women wrap around their neck, arms, and legs with the metal rings to protect their life. And the last story is the Padong was invaded by Burmese, and there was the princess, and some of the servants escaped. On the day, the princess wore some gold yellow plant around her neck called “Padong”, so that the princess proclaimed that “As long as she can’t come back to her homeland, she will not take it from her neck”. And then it became the tradition of the tribe that evolved to be the brass ring as we see presently.
Location and How to Get to the Long-Neck Karen Village
The long-neck Karen village is at Ban Tong Luang, Mae Rim district, Chiang Mai. From the city, drives along the highway number 107 and passes Mae Rim. Then, you will meet the trisection then makes the left turn to enter to the road number 1096 route Mae Rim – Samoeng. And before you arrive at Mae Sa Elephant Camp, makes the left corner to access Ban Tong Luang and crosses the bridge. After you pass the slope part, it is the space that is similar to the valley with a good parking area and ticket booth.