If you’ve spent some time in Northern Thailand, chances are you’ve heard whispers about a place called the Chiang Dao Nest. It’s in a small town in the Chiang Mai province and it’s actually two sister resorts less than 1km from each another. We say treat yourself to either the Nest 1 or Nest 2 when you have a long weekend to spare to relaxing and indulging in gourmet food. But that begs the question: Which one do you choose?
Although both resorts feature bamboo cabins in peaceful settings, award-winning restaurants, and naturalistic décor, the similarities end there. By far the biggest difference between Nest 1 and Nest 2 is the cuisine served at their gourmet restaurants, but the atmospheres are noticeably different as well.
Nest 1 has a close-knit cozy community feel to it. It is almost fairytale-like: the bamboo cabins, gazebo lounge areas, and restaurant are loosely contained by a handmade fence within a foresty area, although the sleeping and communal areas are roughly separated from one another by towering trees and lush bushes.
Loose stone walkways snake their way around the grounds and link everything together with a series of crisscrossing trails. Scattered around the property are terracotta mushrooms lamps that give off a soft whimsical glow in the evening. For a few moments, we felt ourselves stepping into a scene from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as we were led to our rooms.
There are even two resident goats that happily groom the property’s bushes and grass.
There are Double and Twin Cabins and Family Suites, but we stayed in the smaller of the two accommodations at Nest 1.We walked up a few steps to a small front porch and into our cabin with a bedroom and en suite bathroom.
It was simply decorated by the local hill tribe’s handmade goods, woven bamboo wall panels, and soft linen curtains.
Walking back to the communal area, there are several lounge areas within a stone’s throw of one another that have plush couches, long stretches of Thai-style triangular pillows and meditation cushions, mesh hammocks, and Papasan chairs. In other words, the Nest 1 consciously encourages their guests to relax during their time here. Not a bad thing if you ask us!
Near the entrance of The Nest 1 mini resort is a fire pit, perfect for groups to gather and softly chat on chilly nights, which is pretty common in Chiang Dao’s cool misty mountains.
Across the moss-covered stone terrace is a dining area decorated with strings of bells, fresh flowers on every table, and a hand written specials menu board.
But perhaps the star of the show, and what most obviously differentiates Nest 1 most from Nest 2, is its award-winning restaurant featuring European cuisine. And it’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
We were hooked after one look at the specials menu and as it turned out, ordered most of our meals exclusively from those boards. We realized that we sorely missed the familiar Western flavors, cuts of meat, baked goods, and cooking styles.
But words don’t do the food justice. The presentations were beautiful, the meat and seafood were perfectly tender, and the portion sizes quite liberal. Foods were stacked, sauces were drizzle, and condiments were carved in ways that we have come to rarely expect when dining out.
We were blown away by dessert: a fluffy passion fruit cheesecake and melt-in-your mouth crème brûlée with tiny bits of French vanilla bean. In the hills of Chiang Dao?! Apologies for the lack of photos, but the lighting was low and the desserts were calling our names.
Small details like leather-bound menus, pitchers of iced water, and a small dish of Himalayan sea salt were thoughtful touches. The next morning the European style breakfast had us drooling over the melted cheddar cheese, hot rolls and butter, fresh espresso, and real bacon. (If you’ve ever traveled in Thailand you know it’s hard to come by!)
As far as pricing goes, lunch averaged between 150 and 200 baht ($5 to $7 USD) per meal and dinner hovered around 350 baht ($10 USD) per meal. Well worth a trip to these quiet mountains!
Depending on the time of year, the Double and Twin Cabins (sleeps two) range from 695 to 1095 baht per night ($20 to $32 USD); Family Suites (sleeps four) range from 1145 to 1845 baht ($33 to $53 USD) per night. These prices exclude the holiday pricing for Songkran, Christmas, and New Years.
Nest 2 has a different ambiance than Nest 1. While it still features bamboo cabins, stone walkways twisting throughout the resort, and similar amenities and décor, Nest 2 conveys a sense of openness and lightness.
Nest 2 has an open field home to a handful of short flowering bushes and banana trees and the cabins are generously spaced apart. There is also a spectacular view of the towering mountain.
Even the restaurant, which is raised slightly above the rest of the grounds, has unhindered views of the surrounding grounds.
There are Cabins and the Family Suite, but we stayed in the larger of the two at Nest 2. It’s a villa with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a living room space.
It had ample windows that let in natural light and air-conditioning units to keep the place cool. It also came with couches and a bean bag chair(!), a flat screen TV, mini fridge, hot water pot, and drinks and snacks (for a small fee).
Nest 2 is the newer of the two resorts and it’s noticeable in the smaller details such as the number of outlets and the bathroom’s style, but both cabins were clean, fresh smelling, and very comfortable.
Very rarely do we indulge in the fancy Thai dining, but the menu at Nest 2 truly showcases some fine cuisine. There are Thai options for lunch and dinner and a mix of Thai and Western options for breakfast.
Aside from the fantastic presentations – stacks of golden fried morning glory vines, bite sized skewers of corn fritters, and steaming clay pots brimming with buffalo curry and shrimp with rice soup – the flavors were rich and savory. It was not difficult to clear our plates completely, even though our stomachs protested.
At one point we went a little overboard with the chilies and ordered a dish “Thai spicy.” It turned out our heat preference is more suited for the medium to Farang spicy range, but we were happy to see that the chef wasn’t afraid to pile on the chilies!
The cost of lunch is around 125 baht ($3.50 USD) and dinner prices ranged from 175 to 200 baht ($5 to $6 USD) per meal.
Depending on the season, the Double and Twin Cabins (sleeps two) range from 695 to 1095 baht per night ($20 to $32 USD); Family Suites (sleeps four) range from 1645 to 2995 baht ($47 to $85 USD) per night. These prices exclude the holiday pricing for Songkran, Christmas, and New Years.
So Chiang Dao Nest 1 or Nest 2? The Consensus Is…
We both agreed that:
If you prefer a cozy homely forest-like atmosphere, go with Nest 1.
If you love open-aired settings with mountain views, go with Nest 2.
If you want to indulge in European food, choose Nest 1.
If you want to try fine Thai dining, definitely choose Nest 2.
While the restaurant prices at Nest 1 were slightly more than Nest 2, the price differences are trivial. And although the family suites are more expensive at Nest 2, they are also fairly newer. We recommend choosing Nest 1 or Nest 2 based on your preference in atmosphere and cuisine and not the price tag.
But if we could only choose one? We think we’d go with Nest 2. We were so impressed with the combination of the authentic flavors of Thai food (with the Thai chef’s personal touches), beautiful outdoor setting, friendly service, and the very affordable prices. We have been hard pressed to come across all four conditions elsewhere.
In fact, we’re already looking forward to our next trip there, sooner rather than later!
Service and Amenities
From the moment we arrived to the time we were saying our goodbyes, the service at both Nest 1 and Nest 2 was incredibly attentive and friendly.
Both resorts welcomed us with refreshing lemongrass drinks and offered cold bottle water and sweet snacks as a departing gift. The staff took care of us without being cloying, which is a blurry line we often run into in Thailand. Not so at either Chiang Dao Nests!
Here’s a quick wrap up of the Nest 1 and Nest 2 amenities:
- Breakfast, lunch, and dinner served from 8am to 9pm
- Toiletries for sale (toothpaste, mosquito spray, tissue, balm, etc)
- Onsite massage shops
- Hot water showers with strong pressure
- Amply stocked bathroom with local bath soaps (kaffir lime, tamarind, rice, etc), razor, Q-tips, shower cap, clothes detergent
- Transportation arrangement services; motorbike rental
- Umbrellas, robes, bath towels (even towels for the pool and local hot springs)
- Excellent Wifi
- Pool with lounge chairs and umbrellas*
- Ping pong table*
- Air conditioning**
*Indicating Nest 1 only
** Indicating Nest 2 only
Location and Contact Information of the Chiang Dao Nest 1 & 2
Reservations can be made directly through their website or by contacting them via email. The most affordable time to visit the Chiang Dao Nest is September during the slow rainy season, so you’d better go soon!
DISCLOSURE: Our stay at Nest 1 and Nest 2 cabins was sponsored in exchange for an honest review. And that we did! Our remaining expenses, including meals and drinks, transportation, and gratuities were paid for by us.