A Week in the Far North of Thailand



A Week in the Far North of Thailand

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Airports Arrive and depart from Chiang Mai International Airport.

Transport This itinerary is ideal for self-driving, which offers the most flexibility, although a good network of buses and (faster) minivans cover all the stops on this tour.

Day 1: Mae Taeng

Drive an hour north of Chiang Mai to the verdant Mae Taeng Valley. The scenery is stunning, and there are fantastic opportunities to go river rafting, or trekking to hill-tribe villages. Stay the night in Mae Taeng.

Day 2: Chiang Dao

Head further north the next morning, and you’ll soon spot the looming massif of Doi Chiang Dao. Take a lantern-lit tour around the sacred cave and temple at the base of the mountain, or opt for a walking or cycling tour in the rugged countryside. There are a number of pleasant guesthouses nearby.

Day 3: Mae Salong

The mountain-top village of Mae Salong has a unique history; it was once a base for Chinese nationalist troops fleeing Mao’s Communists. Now the economy thrives on growing fragrant Chinese tea, which tastes especially good on misty mornings.

Day 4: Doi Tung to Mae Sai

Winding through superb mountainous scenery, you’ll soon reach Doi Tung. The temple at its summit, Wat Phra That Doi Tung, affords incredible views of the surrounding mountains and valley below. Don’t miss Doi Tung Royal Villa, a former royal palace. Head down to the border town of Mae Sai, the gateway to Myanmar (Burma). What Mae Sai lacks in traditional beauty, the market makes up for in vivacity, as Thais bargain over the latest products from China.

Day 5: Golden Triangle to Chiang Saen

Just east of Mae Sai, visit the excellent House of Opium museum, which tells the story of this infamous commodity. Stop at the village of Sop Ruak, where you’ll see the riverine meeting point of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos – the center of the area known as the Golden Triangle because of its links to the opium trade. Stay in the pleasant town of Chiang Saen, and take an evening stroll to the wide Mekong River, where you can watch porters unload the boats.

Day 6: Chiang Rai

The provincial capital of Chiang Rai is growing, but the city center still exudes small-town charm – notice the old teak shop-houses along Tanalai Rd, and admire the wood carvings in Wat Phra Kaeo, once the home of the Emerald Buddha that is now housed in the Bangkok temple of the same name.

Day 7: Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai

The return 3-hour drive to Chiang Mai is a pleasant and scenic tour, passing through hills and then a long valley of rice cultivation. Stop at the town of Wiang Pa Pao and, for a scenic return to Chiang Mai, turn right and continue to the small market town of Phrao. Stock up on traditional textiles and locally grown fruit, then meander through a quiet hill-bounded valley to your destination.

To extend your trip…

From Chiang Rai, head to the rarely visited mountainous province of Nan, once an independent statelet. While there, admire the murals and elegant architecture of Wat Phumin.





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