Chiang Mai, the “Rose of the North”, is the region’s hub and a laid back place to hang out or use as a base, if heading to the hills for trekking, rafting and other soft adventures. If temples are your thing, Chiang Mai has lots, including the impressive Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Wat Phra Singh and the massive Wat Chedi Luang. The area is also rich with cottage industries and you can visit workshops to watch artisans at work, then head to the bustling Night Market to haggle for handicrafts and souvenirs, and feast on authentic Thai cuisine.
Thailand’s most northern city, Chiang Rai, is gateway to the infamous Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar (Burma) meet. Along with a relaxed pace and array of beautiful temples, Chiang Rai is also a launchpad to the surrounding mountains, hills and forest parks. If trekking isn’t for you, take a stroll by the Kok River where you’ll even find a stretch of sand, or simply shop for hilltribe handicrafts, souvenirs and clothing at the Weekend Walking Street Market or Night Bazaar.
Hemmed in by high mountain ranges, sleepy Mae Hong Son nestles remotely in a pretty valley near the Burmese border. Trekking is a major attraction and a terrific way to appreciate the superb scenery and visit some of the hilltribes that inhabit the area, each with their own unique style, language, customs, traditions and cuisine. Mae Hong Son also has several temples, including the striking Phra That Doi Kong Mu. Set high up on a hill overlooking Mae Hong Son, visit at dawn to see the town bathed in mist or later in the afternoon for far-reaching views.
GMT +7 hours
There are no direct flights from the UK to Northern Thailand. From Bangkok the flight north to Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai takes approximately 1 hour 30 minutes. The flight from Bangkok to Mae Hong Son takes approximately 1 hour 15 minutes, or just 30 minutes from Chiang Mai.
The popular cool season (December to February) brings daytime temperatures over 30ºC but chilly evenings. The hot season (mid-March to June) has higher humidity and while the rainy season (June to November) brings torrential downpours, they tend to clear up quickly.
A half day tour from Chiang Mai which allows you to see the skill and patience of the artisans who produce quality handicrafts, such as umbrellas, lacquerware, silk and furniture.
This half day tour from Mae Hong Son includes an early visit to the market which sells all manner of goods, including insect foods! Continue to Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu which dominates the city. Also visit Wat Chong Klang and Wat Chong Kam monasteries.
This half day tour begins with a cruise by longtail boat along the Mae Ping River to a farmhouse for a stroll around the grounds. Continue to Waroros Market for a real insight to life in this region before travelling by tricycle to the old city. Visit Wat Pra Singh temple to see supreme Lanna art.
On this half day tour from Chiang Mai visit a Meo hilltribe to observe their simple way of life. Continue to the north's most sacred temple, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep for panoramic views.
This half day tour from Chiang Mai begins at Nong Hoi local market to purchase fresh ingredients for the class. Continue to Baan Hong Nual and the open kitchen where your teacher will show you how to prepare and cook three dishes and a dessert. After lunch you are transferred back to your hotel.
A wonderful half day tour from Chiang Rai which takes you by classical rickshaw through the ancient streets to experience the cultural highlights. Sights include Wat Phra Kaew Temple and the Hilltribe Museum. Finally, continue by road to Wat Rong Khun which has unique 'Kanok' architecture.
Explore the idyllic mountainside Santikhiri village on this full day trip from Chiang Rai. Visit the hilltribe villages of indigenous Thai people, learn about their unique way of living and stop by the local tea and coffee plantations as well as the store selling locally grown products including wine and herbs.
Start with a cycle ride along quiet country roads through paddy fields and orchards with stunning mountain backdrops. Ride across the dam within Sri Lanna National Park before a long tail boat ride to a floating restaurant for lunch. Later, kayak along the jungle edge of the lake watching for wildlife.