Chiang Dao Cave History
The Chiang Dao cave history is an integral part of the Chiang Dao area, to the Thai people. The caves have been part of Thai folklore for over 1,000 years. With numerous statues and offerings throughout the over 12km of caves in Chiang Dao, this is a long standing place of worship. You will see carvings, statues and chedis within the cave.
Both the Thai and Shan people revere the caves, and have traditions surrounding them. The cave mouth is surrounded by a stairway, and an ancient Shan Chedi that provides you with a sense for how important the Chiang Dao Caves are to the Thai and Shan People. The temple surrounding the cave leads right into the mouth of the cave itself, through an ornamental staircase.
Chiang Dao Cave History: Cave Formation
Much like caves worldwide, they were formed over 10’s of thousands of years slowly being eroded, and then built up again by Stalactites and stalagmites. Chiang Dao caves are no exception with their beauty and impressive cave formations. Depending on which cave you choose to enter Tham Seua Dao, Tham Phra Nawn, Tham Maa, Tham Naam, or Tham Kaew each has it’s own unique history and formations. In total, there are over 12km of caves that have, and have yet, to be explored. No matter which cave you choose to explore, the caves will leave you with a sense of true scale of what is beneath the Doi Chiang Dao mountain range.
In addition to the stalactites and stalagmites, there are large crystal formations that shine in the cave depths. These are made from limestone and crystal, and are truly a unique site while traversing the kilometers of caves under Chiang Dao.
Chiang Dao Cave Superstition:
One word of warning to everyone who chooses to visit the Chiang Dao Caves is that you should never take anything from inside the caves. Even taking a small stone from the caves will become lost forever. It is forbidden to remove anything from the caves. Superstition is a key part of Thai spirituality and is important to respect.
This superstition has formed legends associated with it that are key to understanding the caves themselves. Thai superstition involving ghosts and myths is deep within their culture. Taking anything from this cave system has the most famous story about the Soldier.
Chiang Dao Cave: Legend of the soldier
The legend of Chiang Dao Caves says that a solider stole a marble Buddha statue from the caves. Once he returned home he placed it in his house, and thought nothing of it. When he moved the statue, his son drowned. He believed that removing the statue from the cave had caused this, and gifted the statue to his brother.
His brother was an air force pilot, and soon suffered two plane crashes. Knowing that the statue was causing this, he gifted it to his commanding officer. From there the officer lost all of his belongings, and then passed away shortly after.
Finally the statue ended up in the hands of a man who was respectful to it. The new owner’s father died shortly, along with his wife becoming ill. Reading into the history of this statue, the new owner decided to return it to it’s true home, the Chiang Dao Caves. As the legend goes, the Phrom Ruesi appeared to him in a dream, and told him to return the statue. This was the same night he had made his decision to return the statue. He was to do it as quickly as possible or he would suffer as well.
Chiang Dao Cave Hermit: Phrom Ruesi
Phrom Ruesi is the hermit of legend who lived in the caves. This is the same spirit that appeared to the man in his dream, telling him to return it. It is said that Phrom Ruesi lived in the cave for 1000 years. In this time, he became so familiar with the cave that he knew angels called “the-wadaa”. He talked “the-wadaa” into creating amazing structures and a monument within the cave.
These monuments are a stream running from the solid gold Buddha through the caves past a cache of divine textiles in the legendary city of Laplae, a city of Nagas, a mystical lake, and a sacred immortal elephant. Phrom Ruesi received a sacred tomb. “The-wadaa” revered the hermit so they gave him this gift. Phrom Ruesi is still part of the caves in many ways.
Human eyes have never seen these wonders. The history of the caves remains shrouded in mystery. Most people will only go to a certain depth inside of these expansive caves. Superstition and legend guard against anyone going any deeper.
Chiang Dao Cave hermits:
Another further legend tells of a gathering of hermits within the Chiang Dao Caves. Deep within the cave lies their legendary home. “The-wadaa” are familiar with the hermits. According to legend, long ago, they called the hermits to a meeting with the deities of the cave. They created the seven sacred objects. Within the cave, a demon was to guard these objects. The demon, Chao Luang Kham Daeng Khun Yak, guarded these deep within the cave system.
Chiang Dao Cave History: Find out more
You can read everything about Chiang Dao Caves, but going there is really the only way. Once you arrive at the Doi Chiang Dao Mountain, and see it towering overhead you will see why there are legends around these caves. Once inside, you can hire tour guides to take you deeper into the caves. They can present the Chiang Dao Cave history with a unique local viewpoint of a local Thai person. On this page is a summary of what to expect when you want a guided tour deep inside the Chiang Dao Caves.