The Chiang Dao Caves are often considered one of the Seven Wonders of Thailand. A half hour from Chiang Mai, they stand in a largely undeveloped mountain region of Northern Thailand.

The province is also called Chiang Dao, which means “city of stars,” and is named as such because of its spectacular height and majesty.

Its steep limestone cliffs, towering mountains, and deep valleys are home to some hidden temples and shrines as well as the spectacular Chiang Dao Caves.

Since the caves are hard to access without private transportation and a knowledgeable guide, most visitors to the area are locals. The caves are connected in a honeycomb-like network that goes over 12 kilometers deep under the mountains.

Our guided tour (the only way to enter and explore the caves) will leave the lighted area of the caves for a lantern-lit trip through the deep cave passages, limestone stalactites and stalagmites, and ancient Buddhist statues.

The cave contains pools of mountain water that are home to an array of local fish. And of course, one of the benefits of visiting Chiang Dao, in addition to the beautiful views, is the break from the heat of the day that spelunking provides.

Surrounding the caves is the Chiang Dao National Park, home to semitropical flora and extensive bamboo forests. The bamboo can grow up to 40 feet tall, and it gathers in clumps and spreads down the pathways creating great shade and home to tons of animals.

We'll have some time during our visit to hike and explore the forests surrounding the caves. The mountain breezes knock the hollow stems of bamboo together like enormous windchimes throughout the forest.

This really is a magical place.