The Northern-Most Regions of Thailand

The Northern Most
Regions of Thailand

All aspects of Thailand’s enthralling culture and tales of its moving history seamlessly captured

WHY THIS TOUR?

Intriguing, adventurous and varied: this multiday journey brings out the best of the past and the present. Known for its notorious past, its hill tribes and opportunities to the spiritual side of Thailand, the Golden Triangle never fails to impress.

Nowadays, with the Mekong forming the natural barrier between the aforementioned three countries, the popularity of the Golden Triangle spans from Chiang Rai, along the Mekong River banks and deep into the mountainous regions south of Mae Sai – a region filled with travel opportunities for the avid explorer.

Tailored to leave no stone unturned, no corner left aside, and taking routes and ways often forgotten, a myriad of former Lanna Kingdom landmarks and reminders of bygone eras of a Thailand gone by, this is one of the most complete programmes high up in the Kingdom.

TRAIL ITINERARY

Day 1 | 5 Days The Northern-Most Regions of Thailand

Day 1

Bangkok – Golden Triangle                                                                                                       [L]

The approximately 1-hour flight in northern direction (excluded) will safely bring you to one of Thailand’s finest definitions of an authentic side of Thailand. Upon arrival at the quaint domestic terminal of Chiang Mai International Airport, you are warmly welcomed by an English-speaking guide who will be the ambassador for the coming days. From the airport, we head straight out into northern direction.

Lunch is included at a local restaurant

We arrive in the afternoon at Chiang Saen, situated along the Mekong River and is the one of the oldest towns of northern Thailand. Formerly known as Wiang Hiran Nakhon Ngoen Yang, the former capital of the Lanna Thai kingdom until this was moved to Chiang Rai in 1262 still keeps vestiges of its past glory through ruins of double city walls, antiques and its distinctive Buddhist sculpture style that evolved in the late 13th century. A truly sizable landmark in Chiang Saen is the 58-metre high Wat Phra That Chedi Luang. Seen as the tallest religious structure in the Chiang Rai province, the temple’s main features are its ancient bell-shaped, Lanna style stupa, its historic ordination hall and the various smaller Chedis around its 24-metre in diameter base. The Wat Phra That Chedi Luang is located right next to the National Museum of Chiang Saen.

From Chiang Saen, we board a local long tail boat for an upstream leisurely cruise towards the famous Golden Triangle. A trip to the north would not be complete without seeing the notorious Golden Triangle first hand. This famed border location where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet on the Mekong River was once the centre of all poppy cultivation in the kingdom.

Our day ends with checking in at your overnight address with its prime location along the Golden Triangle. Expect amazing views from north to south where Thailand’s neighbouring countries suddenly are within a stone’s throw from your overnight address. Dinner is on own arrangement.

Overnight at the Golden Triangle

Day 2 | 5 Days The Northern-Most Regions of Thailand

Day 2

Golden Triangle – Chiang Rai                                                                                       [B, L]

Breakfast is included at the hotel

After checking out of your hotel, we drive further north towards Mae Sai. Mae Sai is Thailand’s northernmost point of and an interesting little market town. Many Burmese come over during the day from Thakhilek to work or do business, hurrying back before sunset and the border’s closure. Burmese lacquerware, gems, jade and other goods from Laos and Myanmar are sold in the market at very competitive prices. Time to wander around and perhaps do some souvenir shopping, we continue the morning with heading up into the mountains towards Doi Mae Salong.

Located some 40 kilometres from Mae Chan, along Route 1089, a mountaintop settlement known as Santi Khiri is home to descendants of Chinese Nationalist soldiers who fled to and settled in Thailand in 1940. Mountainside plantations of coffee, and fruit orchards, provide scenic variety. The area is particularly picturesque in December and January when Thai cherry trees are in blossom. Its location at 1800 metres above sea level gives it just the right climate for plantations and farms to flourish.

Lunch is included at a local restaurant

In the afternoon, we reach Chiang Rai, the unofficial gateway to the Golden Triangle. Chiang Rai’s Baan Dam (Black House) is the unique, eccentric collection of the work of a national artist and our first visit of the afternoon. Situated in the heart of the city, it is one of the most unique museums and galleries around in the country where the creative mind of a sculptor, painter and architect are on display in a well-maintained garden.

The life’s work of celebrated national artist Chalermchai Kositpipat still tops bucket lists of many travelers heading up north. Chiang Rai’s Wat Rong Khun (the White Temple) elates visitors for its detailed work and its unique view on Buddhism, seen through the eyes of an artist. A temple that both keeps visitors in awe, whether you’re a Buddhist faithful or embracing the quaint and abstract side of Thailand. This is another Buddhist example and shows the unique position Chiang Rai has taken in the country’s Buddhist scene.

The day ends with arriving safely at your booked accommodation in downtown Chiang Rai. Dinner is on own arrangement.

Overnight in Chiang Rai

Day 3 | 5 Days The Northern-Most Regions of Thailand

Day 3

Chiang Rai – Mae Rim                                                                                                     [B, L, D]

Breakfast is included at the hotel

Leaving our hospitable hosts for the night and moving westwards is what’s on the agenda this morning. With its strategic location along the Kok River, boat trips of any kind have long been favoured by our customers. The Mae Kok, as it is officially named, is seen as a local blood line for the northern region. The 130-kilometre long Mae Kok River’s source flows from the hills to the border with Myanmar and enters Thailand through Thaton before it reaches the Mekong. The river has played an important role in the development of Lanna civilisation with various archaeological findings unearthed over the years.

From the main boat pier, we will embark on a Kok-based journey towards the mountain town of Thaton, located near the Thai – Burmese border. The boats used are exemplary examples of well-maintained and authentically constructed vessels that have navigated the waters of the Mae Kok for generations. We arrive at the end of the morning at our disembarkation point at Thaton. Strategically located halfway between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai along one of Thailand’s most scenic roads in the north, Ban Thaton commands excellent opportunities to see the natural splendour of the North. The main highlight is Wat Thaton, located high in the mountains and its location along the Kok River makes it a suitable starting point for boat trips.

Lunch is included at a local restaurant

Carrying the name of the small mountain settlement between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, Wat Thaton’s position is one of its biggest attractions. Situated high in the mountains, overlooking the Mae Kok River and the town centre, the panoramic views from here are simply amazing. The temple itself has four large Buddha statues on its spiritual premises, reaching heights of up to 10 metres. It is our final stop in Thaton before further making our way down south to Mae Rim.

The rural location of the Mae Rim district, located 30 kilometres north of Chiang Mai, is one of the regions where hiking and trekking trails can be found. Alongside various hill tribe settlements inside its mountainous landscape, the residents of Mae Rim both live off agriculture and tourism-related activities. It is here where our extremely charming lodge is located. Inspired by architectural traits of the Hmong, and managed by the same ethnic minority that calls this part of Thailand their home for generations, the evening is spent with local song, music and dance performances that define the Hmong in its finest and most authentic way. Dinner is included at the lodge with dance performance.

Overnight in Mae Rim

Day 4 | 5 Days The Northern-Most Regions of Thailand

Day 4

Mae Rim – Chiang Mai                                                                                                                [B, L]

With the sun rising, welcoming another day in the mountains, breakfast will be served at the lodge.

It is time to leave the north and move southbound to Thailand’s second largest city. The ‘Rose of the North’ is surrounded by fertile valleys and misty hills occupied by indigenous tribes. The historic city includes antiquities, ancient walls and moats and is close to the magnificence of Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest mountain.

Chiang Mai’s climate is ideal for the cultivation of orchids, the country’s national flower. Wandering around the various orchids at this Chiang Mai orchid farm at the end of the morning will certainly bring visitors plenty of beautiful memories to take home. Founded as an ecological, sustainable project in turned elephant faeces into usable fibres, the name Elephant Poo Poo Paper Park may raise some eye brows at first when reading the name. This family-friendly attraction outside Chiang Mai (45 minutes’ drive) shows how paper and fibres are made as well giving visitors an interactive chance to make their own. Our morning is reserved in learning all there is to know about recycling.

One of the smaller museums outside Chiang Mai, the Dara Pirom Palace Museum was founded after the passing of the Princess Dara Rasamee, a royal consort. Located in the Mae Rim district, this two-story house turning museum displays items, memorabilia and the Benjarong actual living quarters of one of King Rama V’s most beloved persons. The museum is closed every Monday.

Lunch is included at a local restaurant

Before we end the day at your booked hotel, seeing local artisans at work in creating some of the country’s most notable handicraft fills the afternoon. Situated north-east from Chiang Mai, San Kamphaeng has long been associated with being the centre for Thailand’s thriving handicraft centre and home for various natural landmarks. The district lies along the administrative border with the Lampang province and an insight in local life in northern Thailand. The afternoon comes to an end when we arrive at your hotel in downtown Chiang Mai. Dinner is on own arrangement.

Overnight in Chiang Mai

Day 5 | 5 Days The Northern-Most Regions of Thailand

Day 5

Chiang Mai – Bangkok                                                                                                                  [B, L]

Breakfast is included at the hotel

Chiang Mai is home of some of Thailand’s most influential and adored temples, each with its own history and design. We commence with the Wat Chedi Luang. Also known as the Temple with the Great Chedi, the 14th century Wat Chedi Luang was partially destroyed during an earthquake in the 16th century, leaving its brick foundation partially untouched. Comprising of three separate temples and still towering 60 metres in height, the temple is one of the most visited ones by visitors and locals. Wat Chiang Mai is next on our itinerary. Etched in the history booked as Chiang Mai’s oldest temple, Wat Chiang Man is a weather-worn example of Buddhist influences with an interesting story behind it. Constructed in 1297 and located in the heart of the city, the first ruler of the Lanna Kingdom, King Mengrai ordered the creation of this holy sanctuary at the time the city was founded.

We end the morning with the most famous of all Chiang Mai temples. Part of the Doi Pui National Park and within a short drive from downtown Chiang Mai, Doi Suthep Mountain is best known for its highly revered temple nearby the peak – Wat Prathat Doi Suthep. The uphill road to this spiritual sanctuary with amazing views over Chiang Mai comes with quite a few turns to reach the 1050 meter above sea level temple. Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep is to Chiang Mai what St. Peter’s Cathedral is to Rome. Climb a 300-step staircase to be rewarded by the sight of the temple’s golden spire and birds-eye view of the city below.

Lunch is included at a local restaurant

Spiralling down Suthep Mountain and back into downtown Chiang Mai marks the end of our visit to the North. Together with your guide, you will be transferred to Chiang Mai’s International Airport to catch a 1-hour domestic flight back to Bangkok. A one-way transfer from the airport to your downtown Bangkok booked hotel (no guide) marks the end of 5 days travelling through the northern part of Thailand.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

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INCLUSIONS

  • Tours with licenced English-speaking guiding services / assistance. Other languages are on request and are subject to availability
  • Accommodation at hotels and a local lodge;
  • Transportation for tour and transfers by air-conditioned vehicle, unless otherwise stated.
  • All entrance fees for visits as mentioned in the program.
  • All applicable taxes, service charges and baggage handling
  • All meals as indicated in the program (food only)

EXCLUSIONS

  • Personal expenses such as other meals, drinks, tips and gratuities, shopping, portage fees and optional tours/ visits, unless otherwise stated
  • Hotel accommodation in the destination of commencement.
  • Any domestic / international airline tickets, airport taxes, visa fees, specific camera / video fees, additional transportation cost from and to the general pick-up / drop-off regions (such as airports, out-of-town resorts, ports, harbours and accommodation in surrounding towns)
  • Any accommodation expenses of a personal nature. This includes (compulsory festive) meals and drinks, mini-bar consumption, laundry, room service, any telephone or other communication cost not mentioned in the program
  • International travel and medical insurance coverage for customers

GOOD TO KNOW

  • The accommodation used in Mae Rim is simple accommodation with basic amenities. This may include no air-conditioning (fan only), and lack of Wi-Fi, in line with the concept of this hill tribe-adventure experience;
  • We will do all possible to comply with any dietary requirements during this tour; it may not always be possible to confirm your wishes in advance based on the choice of local restaurants;
  • Natural elements of any kind have a destructive effect on electronic equipment. It the customer’s own responsibility to ensure that any camera, mobile telephone or other device is properly wrapped and protected against these elements. We cannot be held responsible in any way for negligence and/or not following suggestions for any damage related to this;
  • We reserve the right to make necessary changes to the tour in case of unfavourable weather conditions or situations where we are forced to make alterations to guarantee the safety of our guests;
  • Tours and excursions often include obstacles of various kinds that may not make this excursion suitable for wheelchair users or guests with limited mobility;
  • The protection of the country’s flora, fauna and its historical and cultural treasures is of immense importance for us. We will not pursue any activities that are not in line with our animal, wildlife and environment protection principles;
  • Guests traveling over and during local holidays may experience longer waiting times than normal, may see certain sites being closed down, and this program may be subject to supplementary charges;
  • Please ensure that you bring sunglasses, a hat /cap and sunblock with a high SPF factor when traveling with us. Even when it is cloudy, the sun still has an immense power;
  • All mentioned times, durations and stops are based on approximations and may change due to unforeseen circumstances, weather and traffic conditions beyond our control

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