CHIANG DAO NEST 1
An easy 1.5 hour bus trip from Chiang Mai, Chiang Dao (the “city of stars”) is a popular place to escape the urban buzz for a night or two. It doesn’t have anywhere near the same infrastructure (or quite the same vibe) as Pai, but Chiang Dao has a similar tropical feel and doses of that fresh, mountain air that makes Northern Thailand so appealing to so many. Having recently stayed the night at Chiang Dao Nest 1 (the original of the two accommodation branches), I can wholeheartedly recommend their bungalows and on-site restaurant. (But since we barely set foot outside the idyllic Nest compound, that’s about as far as my Chiang Dao experience goes!).
Don’t bother organising a red truck to transport you to Chiang Dao, just take the public coach (‘orange bus’) from Chiang Mai’s Chang Puak Station, which departs every half hour or so (no advance booking required). The bus is safe and fast, and a seat will set you back a measly 40 baht per person, plus an extra 150 baht per vehicle for a taxi to the Nest.
Nest 1 is home to a European restaurant that is a thing of legend among Chiang Mai expats. I don’t know how they pull it off, but from this jungle kitchen seemingly in the middle of nowhere, the all-female chef team create some of the finest food I’ve ever had in Thailand. Be sure to book your stay over a Thursday night during peak tourist season (October to May) if you want to experience Nest 1’s famous BBQ. Ten perfectly charred meats, 12 homemade condiments, and a heavenly array of salads and sides – this was surely one of the best meals of my life.
At just over 1,000 baht per night, Nest 1’s bungalows are very reasonably priced. The owners accept bookings via email – head to their website to make an inquiry.