After a very busy but productive week in Chiang Mai, we were looking for a quick weekend getaway. Our choice? The lush forests of Chiang Dao in Northern Thailand. We hopped on our motorbike and drove for about an hour and a half and slowly, we saw the landscape begin to change. Around us, we saw the towering limestone karsts set amidst a dense foliage of greenery. When we arrived, the clouds were looming and pockets of fog covered the mountain tops. Our destination for the weekend was The Nest, a hotel which people flock to for their delicious food and excellent service. Our plan? A weekend of doing absolutely nothing while relaxing in their resort premises.
Nest 1 Chiang Dao
As soon as we arrived in Nest 1, we were happily greeted by the staff in the restaurant. It was a little bit past lunch time but their restaurant area was packed-which is always a good sign. One staff member welcomed us in and told us that our room would be available in an hour or so. Meanwhile, we were welcome to have lunch in the restaurant or use their lounging huts, hammock, or pool. Just from that sentence alone, we knew we were in for a good treat.
The Resort Facilities
Set amidst a large green garden, The Nest 1 is home to small native huts surrounded by giant Dipterocap trees which make the whole ambiance even more dramatic and idyllic. Nest 1 has 14 cabins with new cabins and buildings that are well on their way. Being that you are surrounded by lush greenery, it is the perfect place to relax and unwind. They had lounging huts where you could lay in their rattan hammock and floor mats while reading a book. It was raining during the most part of our trip which made this area an even more ideal place to hang out and chill. Nest 1 had a swimming pool which was located in the adjacent lot across the compounds. This was also where they were building the new cabins. With giant bamboo and other trees surrounding the poolside area, you had the perfect view of the mountains as you went for a refreshing swim.
The Cabins in Nest 1
The cabins in Nest 1 were simple but had everything you needed. Although there wasn’t any air-conditioning, the cold climate and fresh breeze made the entire room quite cool. The bed was full of blankets which made our sleep nice and cozy. To be perfectly honest, both of us slept very deeply during our two nights in The Nest. I don’t know if it was due to the peaceful and calm vibe but we definitely slept like babies! The rooms also had an ensuite toilet and shower. Unfortunately, the hot water in our cabin wasn’t working during our time there but we didn’t really mind as it wasn’t really needed. They had a variety of cabins which had double beds as well as family rooms. The rooms were decorated with bright linen curtains and local handmade woven items which added a lot of character to the place. Our night was spent relaxing by our outdoor porch as we looked at the stars. The only thing that would have made it perfect was if each outdoor porch had a hammock! But then again, we probably would have never left.
The Food in Nest 1
Before we decided to visit Chiang Dao, The Nest has already been a place that has been floating around in the foodie facebook groups that I am part of. Everyone there RAVED about the Nest’s food so this was definitely something that I was looking forward to. The restaurant in Nest 1 is an award winning European Gourmet restaurant which people head to even if they aren’t guests in the resort. Everyday, the staff would write down their specials in the menu board and each dish sounded incredibly appetizing. Everything from their lunch meals, to their salads, and plated dinners were fantastic. The food was so good that we ending up eating here for every meal-which is not like us as we love to explore different places to eat.
We had their carbonara pasta, pulled pork quesadillas, chicken curry and cashew salad, and grilled salmon along with variety of appetizers. (We shamelessly ordered A LOT of food during our stay) and each one was as good as it sounds on the menu!) We definitely recommend eating here even if you aren’t staying in the hotel. While the food was pricier than usual, we found it still fairly reasonable! Lunch varied from 100-200 THB while dinner started at around 350 THB a plate.
Nest 2 Chiang Dao
On our second day in Chiang Dao, we transferred to The Nest 2 so we could compare the two. Nest 2 was similar in décor and feel but was set in a more open air garden. As there weren’t as many giant trees, you had an uninhibited view of the gorgeous limestone mountains. Although Nest 2 had no pool, you could head over to the facilities of Nest 1 to use it.
The Resort Facilities
Similar to Nest 1, Nest 2 had some lounging huts spread across their resort area but we found the areas in Nest 1 to be a lot more inviting. Nest 2 has 10 cabins with each one fitted with an ensuite bathroom area. The recently added a luxury 2-bedroom suite perfect for large groups of people or families.
The Cabins in Nest 2
Similarly decorated to Nest 1, the cabins in Nest 2 were comfortable, cozy and made us feel right at home. The units here are fitted with air-conditioning units which we didn’t even use! The breeze was nice and the wind kept us nice and cool during the night. The water pressure in the shower was strong which is always a hit and miss when in Thailand. Naturally, after a cold rainy day, a long hot shower was one of the highlights of our lazy weekend away.
Chiang Dao Nest 2 has impressive mountain views all ’round, and a dramatic “wall of mountain” back-drop. Guests have enjoyed many hours staring at this impressive lump of rock! It certainly lends the resort a different type of ambiance. It is located very close to Chiang Dao Cave, one of Northern Thailand’s major attractions.
The Food in Nest 2
While Nest 1 boasts of gastronomical European dishes, the food in Nest 2 is equally as impressive! Serving authentic Thai cuisine made with a twist, we enjoyed a sumptuous meal before leaving. Their menu is extensive and varied (they literally had ever Thai dish imaginable). We ended up ordering their Penang Buffalo curry, a fish dish, and a variety of appetizers. Although we got to choose the spiciness level- they had mild, medium, farang spicy and thai spicy, our mouths were burning! Despite this, we kept eating as the food was SO GOOD. The buffalo curry was out of this world and is something that we recommend ordering. The food here is a lot more reasonable with dishes varying from 150-200 THB
How to Choose Where to Stay: Nest 1 vs Nest 2
In my opinion, both resorts were quite similar so choosing between their ambiance would be a tough choice. The main differences would be that Nest 2 has air-conditioners which isn’t much of a problem but I imagine during the hotter summer months, it may get warm in the evenings. Apart from that, the deciding factor would be the food! If you want to indulge in European food, stay in Nest 1. Otherwise, if you want to gorge yourself in trying out different local cuisines, Nest 2 it is! This article would be complete if I didn’t mention the wonderful staff at both establishments. They all spoke fantastic English, were welcoming, helpful, and were overall just lovely. Despite the fact that we literally did not do anything in Chaing Dao apart from read, lounge in the pool, and hammocks, it was the perfect getaway for us and was exactly what we needed. We will be returning to Chiang Dao soon to explore it’s caves and treks and a trip to the Nest (primarily to eat their amazing food) is definitely in order!