Muang On Cave - Easy Day Trip From Chiang Mai

Are you in Chiang Mai, Thailand and looking for a little more adventure? Muang On Cave is less than an hour away.

Ever since my recent move to Chiang Mai, Thailand I wanted to visit Muang On Cave. One Sunday morning I finally convinced my girlfriend to go for a visit with me. I wasn't expecting much but I was pleasantly surprised. It's actually a decent size and has a good amount of formations.

This cave is less than an hour's drive from downtown Chiang Mai and easy to get to. Just take the Highway 1317 going East from the airport area towards San Kamphaeng. After passing downtown and the suburbs, you'll come to a junction. You'll see a road to San Kamphaeng going to your left. Inexplicably, it has the same 1317 designation. Keep going straight.

Unless you're hungry! If you would like to fill up with some delicious local food before going to the cave, make a u-turn right after the junction.  Almost immediately, you'll see a road on your left. Here you will find Jai Yong Art Gallery and Restaurant. You can enjoy interesting works of art along with your meal. If you stop here, you'll have to make another u-turn and go through the junction again.

Jai Yong Art Gallery and RestaurantJai Yong Art Gallery and Restaurant

After passing through an area of beautiful farmland and mountains for a while, you'll be turning slightly North with a large mountain on your left. If you're like me and need some coffee after a large meal, you can stop at Twins Sala on your left. They have good coffee drinks and decent bathrooms if you need them before heading to the cave.

Just a few kilometers past the coffee shop is the road to the cave on the left. There isn't any sign in English that mentions the cave, so look for a blue sign that says Wat Doipothiyarn.

Sign to turn at for Muang On CaveSign to turn at for Muang On Cave
Steps to Muang On CaveSteps to Muang On Cave

Follow this road up the hill and you'll come to a parking area at the base of a series of steps that go up to the cave entrance. On arrival, we were greeted with the deafening sound of Cicadas and a woman offering coconut juice for sale. This is also where you buy the tickets for the cave. Thais pay 20 baht and foreigners pay 30 baht. (The Farang tax is in full force here). Still, that's only about US$1.00

Mae On ValleyMae On Valley

A walk up the steps will let you know how in (or out of) shape you are. Fortunately, at the top you will find a shady round platform where you can rest, take in the views of the Mae On valley and/or pay your respects at a Buddhist shrine.

Cave entranceCave Entrance

Just a few more steps up will take you to the cave entrance. Here is where you can rent a flashlight (the cave is well lit so you don't really have to have one) or hire a tour guide. Our tour guide didn't speak English but my girlfriend translated and she was very informative.

134 steps take you down into the cave. Be warned, they are steep and at one point there is a low-hanging roof that you will have to slip under.

Dinosaur Bones?Dinosaur Bones?

On the way down, the guide pointed out some formations on the left wall. She said they are dinosaur bones. I'm no paleontologist, but I have my doubts about that.

Giant StalagmiteGiant Stalagmite

Once inside the cave, it's fairly easy to walk around. The centerpiece in the main chamber is a very large white stalagmite. This has been turned into a shrine because of the belief that a hair from the Buddha is inside the stalagmite. Although partially wrapped in cloth, it's still a very beautiful formation.

Deeper into the cave, there is a section of petrified wood in the wall. The guide told us it was teak which is very probable because teak grows all over this area. Notice that no attempt was made to hide the electrical wires for the lighting. This is very typical "Thai style."

Shrine in Muong On CaveOne of the shrines inside cave

Another typical aspect of caves in Thailand is to see various shrines set up inside the cave. Muang On Cave has quite a few.

Muang On Cave is Well Worth the Drive

Whether you drive, ride a motorbike or take a taxi out to Muang On Cave, it will be well worth it. If you still have energy to burn after seeing the cave, continue up the mountain. There are steps that go all the way to the top for some very nice views.

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