14 Days 13 Nights Northern Thailand Road Trip Itinerary:
Northern Thailand, renowned for its vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, and delectable cuisine, provides an abundance of unforgettable experiences for tourists. To fully immerse yourself in the allure of this gem in the north, embarking on a self-drive tour with a well-thought-out itinerary and a dependable vehicle is one of the best ways to go about it. This way, you can explore the region at your leisure, uncover hidden treasures, and create lasting memories throughout your journey. So, buckle up and get prepared for an epic adventure that begins and ends in Chiang Mai.
DAY 01: Chiang Mai Arrival:
On your first day in Chiang Mai, upon arrival at the Chiang Mai Airport, you have the option to rent a car directly from the airport or pick up the rental car you had arranged earlier. After securing your transportation, proceed to transfer to your accommodation within Chiang Mai city. Depending on your arrival time, you can begin your exploration of Chiang Mai by visiting various attractions situated within the city. Two popular tourist spots worth considering are Tha Phae Gate and Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. Tha Phae Gate, a historical landmark, holds cultural significance and serves as an entry point to the Old City. The Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is a vibrant market where you can indulge in shopping, relish local delicacies, and soak in the lively atmosphere. After your first day’s activities, take some time to rest and recharge for an exciting day of exploration ahead. Tomorrow, you can delve deeper into the city’s other captivating attractions, ensuring you make the most of your time in this culturally rich and enchanting destination.
DAY 02: Chiang Mai Sightseeing:
Discover the stunning beauty and rich culture of Chiang Mai as you visit some of its most remarkable and sacred landmarks. Start your journey with the majestic Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple, perched on top of Doi Suthep Mountain. This temple is more than just a tourist attraction, it is a place of deep spiritual significance and reverence for Northern Thailand. Built in 1383, it is said to contain a holy relic of Lord Buddha. Many people come here to seek peace and blessings, making it a popular pilgrimage site. You can choose to climb up the 306-step staircase, guarded by impressive serpent statues, or take the funicular railway for a more relaxing and scenic ride. The temple showcases the exquisite craftsmanship and design of Lanna and Thai architecture, featuring golden decorations, wooden carvings, and elegant pagodas. The main attraction is the revered chedi that holds the holy relic, which is believed to have great spiritual power. From the temple, you can enjoy the spectacular views of Chiang Mai city and its lush surroundings.
Continue your itinerary with the historic Wat Chedi Luang Worawihan temple, located in the center of Chiang Mai city. This temple is one of the oldest and largest in the province, and it has a magnificent pagoda within its compound. The pagoda was damaged by a strong earthquake in 1545, but it still stands as a cherished symbol of Lanna heritage. This ancient temple, also known as Rajakudakan and Chotikaram temple, was built during the reign of King Prachao Sanmuangma of the Mungrai dynasty around 1391. The temple has undergone several restoration efforts over the years, resulting in its current impressive size of 60 meters on each side, making it one of Chiang Mai’s most important pagodas. Continue to visit the San Kamphaeng district and discover the famous silk and cotton weaving industries. This district is a must-visit for tourists, as it offers high-quality and affordable silk and cotton products, ideal as gifts for your loved ones. You can also see how silk is woven and produced at one of the many silk factories in the area. Besides that, there are many other factories and souvenir shops that sell a variety of beautiful items, such as wood carvings, silverware, lacquerware, leather goods, pottery, and cotton products, giving you plenty of options for souvenirs. End your day by relaxing in the charming city of Chiang Mai.
DAY 03: Chiang Mai – Lampang:
Embark on an enthralling journey from Chiang Mai province to Lampang province, where an unforgettable adventure awaits at the Thai in the village of Ban Thung Kwian, nestled within the Wiang Tan Subdistrict of Hang Chat District. This center operates under the guidance of the Forest Industry Organization and serves as a sanctuary for elephants, providing them with nurturing care and vital medical attention. However, this is just the beginning; visitors are in for an exciting array of activities, including captivating elephant shows, insights into the art of elephant care and handling, and the mesmerizing spectacle of elephants engaging in their ritualistic bathing practices. These immersive experiences create lasting memories that showcase the profound bond between these majestic creatures and their human counterparts.
Continuing this expedition, your next destination is the Chae Hom District, where you’ll be treated to the celestial beauty of “Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat Phrachomklao Rachanusorn,” also known as “Wat Phra Bat Phu Pha Daeng.” Perched atop a mountain at an elevation of nearly 1,000 meters above sea level, this sacred site transports you to a heavenly realm on earth. The path to its summit winds through a 1-kilometer trail enveloped by the forest, sometimes involving steep ascents and steps. Amidst this picturesque journey, nature’s lush bounty envelops travelers, culminating in a summit adorned with meticulously crafted pagodas. These pagodas stand as symbols of devotion, representing the collective dedication of monks and villagers who, over years of unwavering commitment, have brought them to completion. From this vantage point, a breathtaking panorama of the surrounding landscapes unfolds, offering sweeping views of Chae Hom District and the expansive vistas beyond.
Lose yourself in the enchantment of Lampang city by indulging in a delightful carriage ride along its historic roads, providing a glimpse into the authentic way of life of its local inhabitants. These carriage routes, once bustling main economic arteries of Lampang, retain echoes of the city’s past prosperity. The avenues are lined with ancient structures that bear witness to Lampang’s heritage, inviting tourists to admire and reflect upon their historical significance. The horse-drawn carriage holds profound importance as an emblem of Lampang Province’s identity. Once serving as the primary mode of transportation for locals, it embodies the region’s rich traditions and cultural heritage. Despite modernity’s advancement that introduced mechanized transportation, the people of Lampang have passionately preserved their legacy. Even today, horse-drawn carriages persist, serving primarily for tourism purposes. This enduring dedication reflects the deeply rooted cultural value of these carriages, offering visitors a nostalgic and picturesque way to explore the city’s historical wonders. As the carriage glides through Lampang’s streets, a journey back in time ensues, where the fusion of old and new paints an enchanting tableau in this captivating city. After a day suffused with Lampang’s heritage, embrace the allure of this province and spend the night.
DAY 04: Lampang – Sukhothai:
Embark on an enchanting journey from Lampang to Sukhothai Province, the historical heart of Thailand, where the past gracefully intersects with a tranquil and traditional way of life. Upon your arrival in Si Satchanalai District, prepare to be captivated by the magnificence of Si Satchanalai Historical Park, a site of paramount importance recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage site in 1991. This archaeological marvel spans an expansive 45 square kilometers and boasts an impressive 215 archaeological sites, each a testament to prehistoric settlements. The park’s distinct allure lies in its intricate large-scale archaeological structures crafted from laterite, which stand as awe-inspiring relics of ancient ingenuity. Within the array of key archaeological sites, you’ll uncover the significance of temples such as Wat Chang Lom, Wat Chedi Chet Thaeo, Wat Nang Phaya, Wat Suwan Khiri, Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, Wat Suan Kaew Yai, Wat Suan Kaew Noi, and the City Pillar Shrine, each steeped in rich historical significance. Nestled amidst the lush embrace of the forest, this ancient city retains its natural splendor, offering visitors an unparalleled window into Thailand’s historical heritage.
Continuing your journey into Mueang Sukhothai District, you’ll encounter the renowned Sukhothai Historical Park, a vast expanse spanning approximately 70 square kilometers. As Thailand’s inaugural capital during the 18th to 20th Buddhist centuries, Sukhothai played a pivotal role in shaping the nation’s political, economic, and cultural landscape. UNESCO’s recognition in 1991 underscores the park’s role as a cradle of Thai arts, culture, and urban design. Among its treasures are the Sukhothai Buddhist sculptures, celebrated for their intricate delicacy, representing the pinnacle of beauty across various facets of Thai art. Within the park’s boundaries, you’ll be immersed in an array of magnificent structures, including ancient Buddha images and over 70 historical edifices outside the city walls, complemented by 26 structures within the walls. Noteworthy sites encompass Wat Mahathat, Wat Chana Songkhram, Wat Traphang Ngoen, Wat Sri Sawai, Wat Si Chum, and many more, each unveiling a unique facet of the region’s rich cultural tapestry. As the sun sets, relish the day’s explorations and settle in for the night in Sukhothai.
DAY 05: Sukhothai – Phrae:
Set forth from Sukhothai province and direct your course towards Phrae province, a gateway to the historic Lanna Kingdom, where a rich tapestry of captivating history and diverse attractions awaits, ranging from temples to natural wonders and museums. As you arrive in Mueang Phrae District, your exploration commences with a visit to Wat Pong Sunan, an entrancing temple adorned with a resplendent golden reclining Buddha. The temple is strategically located near an auspicious archway. Inside the ubosot, a sacred prayer hall, the revered Buddha image named “Phra Chao Saen Suk” commands attention – a timeless artifact that has graced the world for over five centuries. This image is enshrined within a pagoda that holds relics of the Lord Buddha. Noteworthy among the temple’s distinctive features is the “Phra That Chedi Wiharn Kaew,” a white temple embellished with 108 pagodas, each encapsulated within a plexiglas sphere. A curious wonder awaits when gazing through these spheres – the pagodas take on an inverted appearance, showcasing a mesmerizing visual spectacle. Within the viharn, a prayer hall, you’ll encounter the grand Buddha image “Phra Saraswadee Prathanpon,” surrounded by intricate murals that depict Buddha images from Phrae province and the diverse zodiac years.
Moving forward, your expedition leads you to Khum Wong Buri, also known as Ban Wong Buri, an iconic century-old Thai house painted in an enchanting shade of pink. Erected in 1897 by Mae Chao Bua Tha, the principal consort of Chao Luang Piriyathepwong, the last ruler of Phrae, this resplendent edifice stands as a testament to the fusion of Thai-Lanna and European architectural styles. The golden teak wood construction is an exemplar of traditional Thai craftsmanship, where wooden tongue inserts replace conventional nails. Elaborate wood stencil patterns, evocative of the King Rama V era, grace the gables, roof ridges, eaves, and windows, adding an exquisite touch. Khum Wong Buri’s interiors encompass rooms like Chao Mae Bua Tha’s chamber, a living room, and a bedroom, adorned with antique furnishings, ancient weaponry, Buddha images dating back to the Chiang Saen and U-Thong periods, and captivating historical photographs that narrate the house’s saga.
Your historical voyage progresses to Khum Chao Luang, another centennial abode entrenched in Phrae’s heritage. Built in 1892 by Chao Luang Piriyathepwong, this two-story brick and mortar structure elegantly blend Thai Lanna and European architectural influences. Remarkably, the building’s foundation rests on sturdy wooden logs instead of conventional piles, exuding sophistication with its fretwork and intricately carved motifs. Inside, three rooms beneath the elevated structure were purposed for storing valuables, wealth, and treasures. Abundant windows, doors, and beautifully chiseled fretwork patterns enhance the building’s allure, showcasing the skill of esteemed Chinese artisans from that era. Following this historical voyage, proceed to Phae Mueang Phi, also known as Phae Mueang Phi Forest Park, a natural marvel shaped by the erosion of soil and sandstone, resulting in a stunning array of clay pillars standing in remarkable formation. This captivating forest park, established on March 4, 1981, spans over 100 rai (40 acres) and offers a geological spectacle with its cliffs and captivating formations. An adventurous nature trail beckons to curious travelers, offering an opportunity to explore the park’s geological features and savor its natural splendor. As the day transitions to dusk, embrace the serenity of Phrae and spend the night.
DAY 06: Phrae – Chiang Rai:
Embark on a scenic voyage from Phrae Province to Chiang Rai Province, punctuated by captivating stops that unveil the region’s natural splendor and cultural treasures. Begin your journey with a visit to Kwan Phayao Lake in Muang Phayao District, Phayao Province. This crescent-shaped lake is cradled by breathtaking mountain ranges, creating a tranquil and picturesque backdrop. As the north’s largest freshwater lake and Thailand’s fourth-largest, it assumes a vital role as the main freshwater fishing ground in the upper northern region. The lake teems with over fifty species of freshwater fish, serving as a thriving breeding ground for a diverse aquatic ecosystem. Next on your itinerary stands the iconic Wat Rong Khun Temple, affectionately known as the White Temple. This architectural masterpiece was envisioned and brought to life by Professor Chalermchai Kositpipat, a revered Thai artist. His creation seamlessly melds contemporary religious architecture with the rich heritage of Lanna culture. The temple’s pristine white chapel resembles a celestial castle, adorned with ornate stucco designs adorned with glass and expansive wall murals. As you traverse the bridge leading to the chapel, sculptures depicting both heaven and hell engage visitors in a contemplative exploration of religious principles. The chapel’s interior dazzles with intricate silver mirror patterns, contributing to the temple’s otherworldly allure. Art galleries and exquisite sculptures further enrich the experience for all who visit.
As the day unfolds, make your way to Wat Rong Suea Ten, also recognized as the Blue Temple. Designed by Chiang Rai’s local artist, Mr. Puttha Kabkaew, this architecturally captivating temple enthralls visitors with its striking blue and gold color palette. The vihara within the temple showcases intricate applied artistry, fostering a visually captivating and artistic ambiance. Inside, you’ll discover the revered abode of Phra Buddha Ratchamongkol Bodi Tri Lokanath, enshrining relics on the Buddha image’s head, providing a space for travelers to offer their prayers and reverence. Finally, conclude your day at the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar, a vibrant shopping haven beloved by locals and tourists alike. Peruse a diverse array of hill tribe handicrafts, clothing, accessories, and home décor items. The night bazaar also tantalizes taste buds with a wide selection of delectable food and beverages. Immerse yourself in the dynamic atmosphere, savor Lanna cultural performances, and be entertained by the offerings of various hill tribes. As the night unfurls, relish your time in Chiang Rai, treasuring the memories of the enriching experiences that have defined your day.
DAY 07: Chiang Rai Sightseeing:
Embark on a captivating journey to the charming district of Mae Fah Luang, where the alluring Doi Tung Palace and Mae Fah Luang Garden eagerly await your exploration. These renowned attractions in Chiang Rai draw travelers from around the world year-round. At the core of these destinations lies a splendid array of flowers, meticulously arranged and ever-evolving with the changing seasons. Visitors are treated to a mesmerizing spectacle at Mae Fah Luang Garden, an ever-changing canvas of natural beauty that enchants regardless of the time of year. Additionally, the Doi Tung Palace, a masterpiece of Lanna-style art and architecture, further elevates the allure of this must-visit locale.
The journey then takes a compelling twist, inviting travelers to delve into the historical significance of the Golden Triangle, nestled in Sop Ruak Village, Chiang Saen District. The convergence of the Mekong River, acting as a natural boundary between Thailand and Laos, with the Ruak River, marking the border between Thailand and Myanmar, paints a picturesque scene. This vantage point offers vistas of Myanmar and Laos landscapes. The Golden Triangle’s past unveils a captivating history as a former opium cultivation hub, renowned as the epicenter of the global opium trade, earning its evocative label “Golden Triangle.” Legends recount the immense riches amassed from trading opium for raw gold, which led to this intriguing title. Today, the opium trade has receded into history’s annals, yet the allure of the past endures. Visitors can pay homage at The Golden Triangle Buddha, an awe-inspiring bronze sculpture adorned with topaz, boasting a staggering weight of 69 tons, with a span of 10 meters and an imposing height of 15 meters. This majestic Buddha stands along the riverbank, replacing its predecessor that once lay submerged in the Mekong River. It now stands as a majestic symbol of peace and contemplation.
To bask in nature’s marvels and embrace local life, a cruise along the Mekong River offers an unforgettable opportunity. Originating from the Tibetan Plateau, the Mekong River journeys through China, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand’s “Golden Triangle” area. As a natural boundary between Thailand and Laos, the Mekong nurtures livelihoods and nurtures economic and cultural ties along its banks. Stretching a remarkable 4,880 kilometers, it culminates in the vast expanse of the South China Sea in Vietnam. After a day of exploration, immerse yourself in the delightful ambiance of Chiang Rai, where another night can be spent.
DAY 08: Chiang Rai – Ban Tha Ton:
Embark on an enriching odyssey to uncover the captivating blend of culture and nature that defines Northern Thailand. Your day’s voyage commences with a visit to the awe-inspiring Wat Huay Pla Kang Temple in Chiang Rai. Perched atop a small hill, this temple showcases a remarkable 9-story, 12-sided chedi boasting a distinctive pointed design adorned with elements of Chinese and Lanna arts. Flanked by two dragon statues, the chedi’s red roof leads the way. Within, your gaze will be captivated by the enshrined Goddess Guan Yin Bodhisattva, a grand sandalwood statue emanating blessings and forgiveness. Additionally, the temple presents a towering 69-meter-tall statue of Guan Yin Bodhisattva, akin to a 25-story building. An elevator facilitates an effortless ascent, revealing panoramic vistas of Chiang Rai’s picturesque terrain. Your journey then carries you to Doi Mae Salong, a captivating region renowned for its cultivation of exquisite tea. The area’s verdant terraced tea plantations envelop you in a serene and natural ambiance, crafting an enchanting setting for your exploration. Doi Mae Salong stands as a Chinese Yunnan village, established by immigrants who sought refuge decades ago from China’s communist regime. The villages dotting the landscape mirror the traditional Chinese villages found in southern regions.
Venture into the enthralling world of the Akha hill tribe, immersed in idyllic settings. Originating from southern China, the Akha people migrated north to Myanmar before ultimately settling in various districts of Chiang Rai Province over the past century. Their preference for higher altitudes led to thatched-roof houses with bamboo walls atop mountain ridges. Agriculture, crop cultivation, and livestock rearing form their economic foundation, complemented by household industries like sewing, embroidery, and silverware craftsmanship. Admire their resplendent dresses and hats adorned with intricate silverware and beads, a showcase of the Akha’s distinctive tribal attire. Extend your expedition to Ban Tha Ton Village, a picturesque border village adjacent to Myanmar in Mae Ai District of Chiang Mai Province. Nestled amidst mountains and bordered by a meandering river, the village’s tranquil ambiance beckons year-round. Here, immerse yourself in the vibrant cultural mosaic of the multi-ethnic hill tribes residing both within and around the village. Discover the Wat Tha Ton temple, gracing the hillside with its impressive nine-tiered base, each tier housing sacred religious spaces. At the pinnacle rests “Phra Borommathat Ratchamangkalachan Samanchan,” also known as “Phra Chedi Kaew,” offering awe-inspiring vistas of Ban Tha Ton village and the encompassing mountains. Unwind with a peaceful night’s rest in Ban Tha Ton Village.
DAY 09: Ban Tha Ton – Pai:
Embark on a captivating voyage to discover the distinctive attractions and natural marvels that grace the landscape of Northern Thailand. Your day’s odyssey commences with a visit to Hinoki Land, a captivating Japanese architectural marvel that beckons tourists. Spanning across an impressive 83 rai, this enchanting land transports you to the heart of Japanese art, culture, and architecture, nestled within a serene Japanese ambiance. As you step in, a grand red lantern arch symbolizing “good luck” extends a warm welcome, leading you through a tunnel adorned with 88 pairs of torii gates. These gates guide your path to the magnificent four-story Hinoki Castle, a masterpiece constructed from the noble and sacred hinoki pine wood. Drawing inspiration from Kyoto’s iconic Kinkakuji Castle, the Hinoki Castle bestows a glimpse of Japanese grandeur against the backdrop of tranquil mountains and forests.
Next, your journey takes you to Wat Ban Den Temple, also known as Wat Den Sari Sri Muang Kaen, promising an enthralling experience filled with cultural and architectural splendor. Nestled in Inthakin Sub-District, Mae Taeng District, this temple boasts a profound historical significance. The appellation “Sari Tree” stems from the Bodhi tree that once graced the temple’s grounds, imbuing it with auspicious significance and influencing its name. The temple’s location within the ancient old city of Muang Kaen has resulted in its full name being embraced as “Wat Den Sari Sri Muang Kaen” by the local community. Majestically positioned on a hill amidst breathtaking scenery, Wat Ban Den Temple welcomes visitors to a sprawling expanse adorned with a collection of exquisite structures, each an embodiment of the remarkable Thai Lanna Architecture. The temple complex features the ubosot, the tripitaka hall, the drum tower, the Inthakin pole sanctuary, the Lanna cubicle golden teak, and the pagoda. Each edifice is a meticulous masterpiece, akin to literary works of art, leaving visitors mesmerized by their intricate craftsmanship. Stepping into the realm of Wat Ban Den Temple allows travelers to immerse themselves in the elegance of Thai Lanna architecture, relishing the harmonious fusion of cultural heritage and the natural splendor enveloping this sacred haven.
Embrace the beauty of nature at Mork Fah Waterfall, nestled within Doi Suthep-Pui National Park in Sop Poeng Sub District, Mae Taeng District. Though not the tallest, this single-tiered waterfall flows perennially, with streams cascading from the lush forest into the rocky cliffs below. The morning sun casts a spellbinding rainbow, while autumn imparts a unique charm to the scene. The rainy season amplifies the waterfall’s magnificence, as water courses with a resonant rumble, creating a misty backdrop. Find solace in the therapeutic embrace of Pong Dueat Hot Springs, a substantial geyser-like hot spring accompanied by steaming vapors that ascend regularly. The water’s temperature ranges from 90-200 degrees Celsius, exuding a steady scent of sulfur. Enveloped by verdant jungle, the area also presents a 1.5 km nature study route, adorned with large trees, ferns, and moss, complete with informative signboards for a rewarding educational experience. Your journey continues to Pai district, tracing the historical World War II road that unveils panoramic vistas of majestic mountains through its multitude of sharp curves. In Pai, delve into the local way of life along a bustling walking street, where handcrafted goods, apparel, jewelry, and mementos await your discovery. Savor exquisite dishes at a variety of international and Thai eateries, and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the walking street, which comes alive from 5 pm until midnight. Delight in your night’s sojourn in Pai, surrounded by the alluring charm of this enchanting destination.
DAY 10: Pai – Sightseeing:
Exploring Santichon village is an extraordinary expedition that transports you into the preserved world of the Yunnan Chinese community, who settled here generations ago. The village emanates an authentic Yunnan Chinese ambiance, from its traditional dwellings to the quaint embellishments that grace the surroundings. Stepping into Santichon feels like journeying back in time, immersing oneself in the nostalgic allure of a bygone era. A short distance away from Santichon awaits the Yun Lai viewpoint, an enchanting location that unveils the picturesque panorama of Pai city. Enveloped by verdant paddy fields and a rugged mountain range, this viewpoint presents a breathtaking tapestry of Pai, with mist-clad mountains creating a dreamlike backdrop in both winter and the rainy season. Witnessing the sunrise from this vantage point is a transcendent encounter that etches itself into the memories of all fortunate enough to witness it. Another captivating destination in Pai is the Wat Phra That Mae Yen Temple, perched atop a lofty hill in Mae Yen village. From this elevated perch, visitors are treated to awe-inspiring vistas of Pai city. Sunrise and sunset moments here are especially magical, as the sun’s golden hues accentuate the grandeur of the encircling mountain ranges. The view from Wat Phra That Mae Yen Temple is nothing short of awe-inspiring, leaving an enduring imprint on every visitor. Continuing your exploration, you’ll encounter the Memorial Bridge, a historical relic from World War II. Initially serving as a vital transport route for troops and supplies to Myanmar, the bridge now stands as a poignant reminder of Pai’s storied history, inviting travelers to reflect on its historical significance and capture poignant photographs.
A visit to Pai Canyon, also known as Kong Lan, is an enchanting encounter that unveils the marvels sculpted by nature’s patient hand over countless years. This extraordinary canyon has formed through a combination of soil subsidence and the relentless forces of wind and rain, resulting in deep trenches resembling majestic cliffs. Stretching over an area of more than 3 acres, the terrain features meandering ridge-like structures that offer a truly captivating spectacle. Pai Canyon’s environs boast diverse deciduous forests and a range of flora, further enhancing the allure of this unique attraction. Adventurous souls can trek along narrow and steep trails that wind along the canyon’s edges, treating themselves to breathtaking vistas of lush forests and deep chasms below. One of Pai Canyon’s highlights is the awe-inspiring view from its highest points. As visitors ascend these elevated vantage points, they are rewarded with sweeping panoramas of charming villages and farms nestled amidst the majestic mountains. The landscape presents a harmonious fusion of nature and human habitation, exemplifying the symbiotic relationship between the local community and the stunning environment.
The rugged beauty of Pai Canyon, with its ever-shifting colors and textures, creates an otherworldly ambiance, rendering it a favored spot for photographers aiming to capture nature’s artwork. Strolling along the trails, travelers can revel in the serene atmosphere and embrace the sense of wonder that saturates the area. The sensation of being enveloped by nature’s grandeur and pondering the forces that shaped Pai Canyon is an enriching and unforgettable experience for all who venture here. As the sun gracefully sets over the canyon, casting a warm glow upon the landscape, visitors can savor the enchantment of the moment and bid adieu to the day with hearts brimming with gratitude for the breathtaking beauty they have encountered. Pai Canyon is a natural masterpiece that leaves an indelible mark on the souls of those who explore its magnificence. The Merit Bridge, affectionately known as “Khokuso,” exudes its own distinctive charm as a bridge of faith, lovingly crafted by the villagers. This winding bamboo bridge gracefully meanders through lush rice fields, with the stunning mountains serving as an exquisite backdrop. The bridge serves a special purpose, facilitating the monks’ alms rounds and offering a convenient path for both tourists and villagers to traverse, affording them opportunities to make merit and bask in the splendor of the surrounding forests, mountains, and rice fields. Spending a night in Pai allows visitors to savor the tranquil ambiance and embrace the unique atmosphere of this captivating destination.
DAY 11: Pai – Mae Hong Son:
Discover the wonders of Pai and Pang Mapha Districts as you visit some of their most beautiful and fascinating attractions. Begin your journey with the Doi Kiew Lom Viewpoint, a popular spot among both Thai and foreign visitors. The viewpoint offers a stunning sight of a spectacular sea of mist that fills the valley, creating a magical and ethereal atmosphere. Along with the misty beauty, the area is decorated with various types of colorful flowers, adding to the charm of this natural wonder. Next, head to Tham Lod Cave, one of the most important archaeological sites in the region. The cave features a flowing stream known as “Lang” that runs from one end to the other, creating a mesmerizing underground world adorned with stalactites and stalagmites. The cave’s interior showcases a variety of ancient tools and utensils, believed to be over 2,000 years old, offering a glimpse into ancient human history and cultural practices. Besides admiring the cave’s magnificent splendor, visitors can also enjoy other fun activities, such as bamboo rafting inside the cave. The enchanting journey on the bamboo raft takes travelers through the dark waters, allowing them to appreciate the unique cave formations from a different perspective. Moreover, short trekking around the cave offers an opportunity to explore the surrounding natural beauty, embracing the tranquility of the lush landscapes that surround the area.
Afterward, the journey continues to a Lahu hill tribe village. The Lahu people have an ancestral origin in Tibet and have gradually migrated to different regions over time. They have settled in the north of Thailand for hundreds of years, bringing with them their unique lifestyle and culture. The Lahu prefer to build their villages on high land and lead a simple and close-knit way of life. Agriculture, especially rice farming and corn planting, is their main occupation, and they are skilled hunters as well. The Lahu people are known for their friendliness and warm hospitality, eagerly welcoming foreign tourists with open arms. This presents an excellent opportunity for travelers to immerse themselves in the Lahu culture, learn about their customs and traditions, and witness their way of life firsthand. As the day comes to an end, travelers will retire for the night in Mae Hong Son, reflecting on the unforgettable experiences and cultural encounters they’ve had throughout the day.
DAY 12: Mae Hong Son Sightseeing:
Experience the beauty and culture of Mae Hong Son as you visit some of its most remarkable and sacred attractions. Start your journey with Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu temple, a significant and revered place of worship in Mae Hong Son. Located on top of Kong Mu Mountain, the temple consists of two pagodas, one larger one built by “Chong Thong Su” in 1860 and a smaller one built by “Phraya Singhanatracha” in 1874. The hilltop location offers panoramic views of the town surrounded by majestic mountains and lush valleys, creating a serene and awe-inspiring atmosphere. Next, visit Wat Chong Kham and Wat Chong Klang, two ancient temples located near a large swamp. These temples boast exquisite Burmese-style architecture and house the revered Buddha image called “Luang Paw To.” Inside Wat Chong Klang, you will be amazed by the numerous Burmese wood carving dolls and intricate glass paintings depicting Buddhist history, adding to the spiritual and cultural significance of these temples. Next on the itinerary is the Su Tong Pae Bridge, the longest bamboo bridge in Thailand. Spanning over paddy fields and canals, the bridge connects Suan Tham Phusama Temple and Kung Mai Sak village. With its classic beauty, especially during the rainy season when it crosses the verdant paddy fields, or in the winter when the fields gleam golden, the Su Tong Pae Bridge leaves a lasting impression on visitors. The surrounding landscape, embraced by mountains, further enhances the beauty and charm of this remarkable bamboo bridge.
Next, visit is Baan Rak Thai village, located near the Thailand-Myanmar border. This village was established by the Yunnan people, specifically the Chinese Nationalist 93rd Division, who sought refuge in Thailand during the communist regime revolution in Southern China. The stunning mountain scenery, beautiful lakes, and colorful shrubbery make this village a sight to behold. The green tea farmland, meticulously planted along the mountainside, adds to the picturesque setting. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor Yunnan cuisine, including tasting the renowned Chinese tea, which is considered the best quality tea in Mae Hong Son province. The exploration takes you to Baan Ruam Thai, also known as Pang Oung, a tranquil Shan village surrounded by rugged mountain ranges. This village boasts a spectacular landscape with a large lake, often referred to as the “Switzerland in Thailand.” Surrounded by pine forests and colorful winter flowers, the area enjoys cool weather throughout the year. The picturesque sight of the pine forest hugging the spacious reservoir amidst the mountain range, with morning fog floating above the lake, is simply mesmerizing. The serene and peaceful atmosphere, along with the beauty of the surrounding nature, makes Baan Ruam Thai an enchanting destination for travelers to cherish. Spend the night in Mae Hong Son
DAY 13: Mae Hong Son Chiang Mai:
Travel from Mae Hong Son to Doi Inthanon National Park and enjoy the scenic views of the beautiful mountains along the way. As you reach Doi Inthanon, you will see the highest peak in Thailand, rising to an altitude of 2,565 meters above sea level. Doi Inthanon is part of the majestic Thanon Thongchai Mountain range, which extends from the Himalayas through various countries, including Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar. The area has a diverse and rich climate and forest, making it a paradise for nature lovers. In Doi Inthanon National Park, you will have the chance to experience different types of forests, such as rain forests, pine forests, and mixed forests at different altitudes. The cool weather throughout the year, along with the stunning scenery and lush forest, makes Doi Inthanon a popular destination for visitors from around the world. One of the main attractions in Doi Inthanon is the Twin Royal Pagodas, Napamethanidol and Napapolpumisiri. These elegant pagodas were built by the Air Force in collaboration with Thai people to celebrate the 60th anniversary of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s reign in 1987 and to honor Queen Sirikit on her birthday in 1992. The pagodas are beautifully decorated with winter flower gardens and various plants. The location offers stunning panoramic views and is considered one of the most picturesque viewpoints in Chiang Mai.
Next, you will visit the majestic Wachirathan Waterfall, a magnificent and towering single-tiered cascade that boasts unparalleled beauty, earning its reputation as one of Thailand’s most stunning waterfalls with a continuous flow of water throughout the year. As the water gracefully falls into the basin below, the waterfall stands tall at an impressive height of 70 meters, leaving spectators in awe of its grandeur. During the rainy season, a delightful natural phenomenon occurs as water droplets sparkle in the sunlight, creating mesmerizing rainbows that surround Wachirathan Waterfall. This enchanting display adds an extra touch of wonder and allure to the already breathtaking sight, making this waterfall an even more captivating destination for nature enthusiasts and visitors seeking a true sense of awe-inspiring beauty. After a day of exploring the natural beauty and cultural landmarks of Doi Inthanon National Park, travelers will retreat to Chiang Mai for a restful night.
DAY 14: Chiang Mai Departure:
On your last day in Northern Thailand, it’s time to bid farewell to the enchanting city of Chiang Mai. Begin your day by heading to Chiang Mai Airport with the rented car. At the airport, return the car as per the rental agreement. Afterward, proceed to the check-in counter to board your flight to your next destination. As you wait to board your flight, take a moment to reflect on the wonderful memories you’ve created during your time in Northern Thailand. From the vibrant markets and cultural landmarks to the picturesque landscapes and warm hospitality, this region has left a lasting impression on your heart. Although it’s time to say goodbye to Chiang Mai, carry with you the cherished experiences and fond memories you’ve made. As you venture to other destinations, keep the spirit of Northern Thailand alive in your heart, and may it continue to inspire and enrich your future travels.