21 Days 20 Nights Thailand Road Trip Itinerary:
Thailand, known for its vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, and mouthwatering cuisine, offers travelers a myriad of experiences to cherish. One of the best ways to truly immerse yourself in the beauty of this Southeast Asian gem is by embarking on a 21-day road trip across the country. With a well-planned itinerary and a reliable car, you can explore the diverse regions of Thailand at your own pace, uncovering hidden gems and creating unforgettable memories along the way. So fasten your seat belts and get ready for an epic journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and back.
DAY 01: Bangkok Arrival:
Bangkok is the capital and largest city of Thailand and a vibrant metropolis that offers something for everyone. Whether you are interested in history, culture, shopping, nightlife, or food, you will find plenty of options to suit your taste. Upon arrival at the airport, you can rent a car from one of the many car rental companies available. You can also book your car online in advance to save time and money. After picking up your car, you can drive to your hotel and check in. Depending on your arrival time and energy level, you can choose to relax at your hotel or explore some of the attractions in Bangkok. Some of the must-see places in Bangkok are: The Grand Palace is the former residence of the kings of Thailand and a stunning complex of buildings that showcases exquisite Thai architecture and craftsmanship. The Grand Palace also houses the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. Wat Pho is the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok, famous for its reclining Buddha statue that measures 46 meters long and 15 meters high. Wat Pho is also a renowned center for traditional Thai massage and medicine. Wat Arun, The Temple of Dawn, is located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. Wat Arun is known for its distinctive prang (spire) that rises 70 meters high and is decorated with colorful porcelain tiles and seashells.
Bangkok’s Nightlife and Street Food:
As the sun sets over the bustling city of Bangkok, a vibrant nightlife scene emerges, offering a unique glimpse into the city’s nocturnal charm. Amidst the flickering neon lights and pulsating beats, a fascinating way of life unfolds. From trendy rooftop bars to lively night markets, Bangkok’s nightlife has something for everyone. However, it’s the tantalizing array of street food that truly captures the essence of Bangkok’s after-dark experience. Sidewalks transform into aromatic havens, lined with food stalls offering a mouthwatering array of delicacies. From sizzling stir-fried dishes to flavorful grilled skewers, the city’s street food scene tantalizes taste buds and brings locals and visitors together in a culinary celebration. What sets Bangkok’s street food apart is not just the diversity of flavors but also the vibrant atmosphere it creates. Seated on plastic stools, shoulder-to-shoulder with locals and fellow travelers, you’ll immerse yourself in the vibrant tapestry of the city. The clinking of chopsticks, the sizzling of pans, and the lively banter between vendors and customers create a vibrant symphony of culinary joy. In the heart of the night, Bangkok comes alive, blending the traditional with the contemporary, the exotic with the familiar. Its bustling streets and lively night markets are a testament to the city’s dynamic spirit, offering a kaleidoscope of flavors and cultural encounters that truly make Bangkok a food lover’s paradise, long after the sun sets on the horizon.
DAY 02: Bangkok – Ratchaburi – Samut Songkhram – Bangkok:
Start your road trip by heading west from Bangkok towards Ratchaburi and Samut Songkhram. Visit the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, where you can navigate through a maze of boats selling fresh produce and local delicacies. Continue your journey to Muang Samut Songkhram District in Samut Songkhram Province and explore the fascinating Maeklong Railway Market, locally known as Talad Rom Hub. This unique market stretches along both sides of the railway tracks and is bustling with vendors, locals, and tourists who come to shop for a variety of products. Villagers confidently walk along the railway tracks, navigating their way between shops set up on either side. The highlight of the Maeklong Railway Market is the incredible sight of stalls and umbrellas being swiftly moved to accommodate the incoming trains. As the train approaches, it slows down and signals its arrival with a distinct sound, giving the villagers and tourists a chance to find shelter on the sides of the tracks. Vendors promptly relocated their stalls and umbrellas, making way for the train to pass through. This spectacle is a unique experience that can only be witnessed here. Once the train has passed, the vendors quickly resume their usual operations, bringing down their stalls and raising their umbrellas once again. The Maeklong Railway Market is not only a vibrant marketplace but also a cultural tourist destination that offers a glimpse into the lives of the vendors who have made the railway tracks their livelihood. It holds a special charm that continuously attracts visitors from all corners of the globe, making it a truly one-of-a-kind destination. Immerse yourself in the rich culture of these towns before returning to Bangkok for the night.
DAY 03: Bangkok – Kanchanaburi:
Drive northwest to Kanchanaburi province, which is about three hours drive from Bangkok. Kanchanaburi is a historical and natural destination that offers many attractions for visitors. Some of the places you can visit are: Bridge on the River Kwai, the famous bridge that was built by prisoners of war during World War II as part of the Death Railway that connected Thailand and Burma You can walk or ride a train across the bridge and learn about its history at the nearby museums and memorials. Erawan Waterfalls: A stunning seven-tiered waterfall that flows through a lush green forest You can hike along the trails to reach each level of the waterfall and swim in the clear pools. Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum: A museum that commemorates the suffering and sacrifice of the prisoners of war who worked on the Death Railway under harsh conditions You can also walk along the Hellfire Pass, a cut through the mountain that was dug by hand by the prisoners. Sai Yok National Park: A national park that covers a large area of forest, mountains, rivers, and caves. You can see various wildlife, such as deer, monkeys, and birds, and visit attractions such as Sai Yok Yai Waterfall and Lawa Cave. Spend the night in Kanchanaburi.
DAY 04: Kanchanaburi – Ayutthaya:
Continue your journey northeast to Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Siam. Explore Ayutthaya Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, marvel at the impressive temple ruins, and learn about Thailand’s rich history. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the magnificent Wat Mahathat and the reclining Buddha at Wat Lokaya Sutharam. Wat Phra Mahathat, adjacent to the Ayutthaya Historical Park, is another must-visit temple. Marvel at the iconic Buddha head covered in tree roots and take some time to explore the temple’s serene grounds. Continue to visit Wat Lokaya Sutharam, where a large reclining Buddha statue that is still intact and beautiful is enshrined outdoors and ranks among the largest reclining Buddha images in Thailand. Visit Wat Chaiwatthanaram, one of the most well-preserved temples in Ayutthaya. Located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, this temple offers a stunning backdrop for photos, especially during sunset. Visit Bang Pa-In Royal Palace, also known as the Summer Palace. Explore the beautifully manicured gardens and admire the architectural blend of Thai, Chinese, and European styles in the various palace buildings. As the day winds down, head to the Ayutthaya Night Market to experience the local atmosphere and indulge in some shopping. Browse through the stalls selling handicrafts, clothing, and delicious street food. Don’t forget to try local snacks like grilled river prawns and mango sticky rice. Spend the night in Ayutthaya.
DAY 05: Ayutthaya – Phitsanulok:
On your fifth day, you can drive to Phitsanulok province, which is about four hours drive from Ayutthaya. Phitsanulok is a province with a long history and culture that date back more than 600 years. You can visit some of the attractions in Phitsanulok, such as Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, one of the most important and beautiful temples in Thailand. It houses the famous Phra Buddha Chinnarat, a golden Buddha image that is considered the most beautiful in the country. You can admire the exquisite architecture and art of the temple and learn about its history and significance. Next, head to the Thawee Folk Museum, a unique museum that showcases the personal collection of Mr. Thawee Buranakhet, a former soldier and folklorist. You can see a variety of artifacts, antiques, and memorabilia related to Thai culture and history, such as musical instruments, weapons, pottery, costumes, and more. The museum is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day, and admission is free.
Continue to visit. Wat Chan Tawan Tok Temple is an ancient temple renowned for its splendid architecture. One of its notable features is the majestic golden cathedral, known as Somdet Ong Phra Prathom Maha Viharn, which houses the revered Buddha image of Somdet Ong Prathom in the subduing Mara posture. Adjacent to the viharn stands Luang Pho Thong Laima, a grand standing Buddha image portrayed holding an alms bowl, enshrined outdoors. Behind the viharn lies Phra Phuttha Chedi Sra Luang, a sacred site containing Lord Buddha’s relics. On the opposite bank of the Nan River, across from Wat Chan Tawan Tok, lies Wat Chan Tawan Ook, another temple featuring an ubosot (ordination hall) along with a pavilion and other intricately designed structures showcasing exquisite architecture. For those fortunate enough to visit Phitsanulok, a trip to Wat Chan Tawan Tok Temple is a must, followed by a crossing to explore Wat Chan Tawan Ook Temple. Both temples welcome visitors daily from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. To conclude your day, unwind and relax at one of the numerous hotels available in Phitsanulok.
DAY 06: Phitsanulok Sightseeing:
Spend the day exploring Phitsanulok Province further. Take a scenic drive along the Phitsanulok-Lom Sak Route (Highway No. 12), which offers stunning views of the mountains, forests, and waterfalls along the way. You can stop at some of the attractions on the route, such as Kaeng So Pha Waterfall, a beautiful cascade that flows over a series of rocks, or Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park, a former stronghold of the Communist Party of Thailand that now features hiking trails, viewpoints, rock formations, and historical sites. The entrance fee for the national park is 200 THB per person. In the evening, you can head back to the city and enjoy some shopping and nightlife at the Phitsanulok Night Bazaar, a lively market that sells clothes, souvenirs, handicrafts, and more. You can also find many food stalls and restaurants that offer a variety of cuisines, such as Thai, Chinese, Indian, or Western. You can sample some local specialties such as roti with curry, yogurt with fruit, or fried insects. Another overnight stay in Phitsanulok.
DAY 07: Phitsanulok Sukhothai:
On the seventh day, you can drive to Sukhothai. Which is about two hours away from Phitsanulok. Visit Sukhothai History Park, another UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its well-preserved ruins and historical park. Rent a bicycle and cycle through the ancient city, taking in the serene atmosphere and admiring the intricate architectural details of the temples. Visit Wat Mahathat, the main temple of Sukhothai, which has a large lotus-bud chedi that contains relics of the Buddha. You can also see many Buddha images in different postures and styles that reflect Sukhothai art. Visit Wat Si Chum, the temple that has a massive square mondop that houses a 15-meter-high Buddha image called Phra Achana. You can also see an inscription on a stone pillar that tells about the history and achievements of King Ramkhamhaeng. Visit Wat Saphan Hin, the temple that is located on a hilltop and has a 12.5-meter-high standing Buddha image that overlooks the city. You can enjoy the panoramic view of the park and see the sunrise or sunset from here. In addition, within Sukhothai Historical Park, there are many ancient temples and archaeological sites for you to visit. Continue to visit Ramkhamhaeng National Museum, the museum that displays various artifacts and exhibits related to Sukhothai history and culture. You can see sculptures, ceramics, coins, inscriptions, and other items that show the richness and diversity of Sukhothai civilization. Spend the night in Sukhothai.
DAY 08: Sukhothai – Phrae:
On your eighth day, you can drive from Sukhothai to Phrae, which is about two hours away. Phrae is another province with a long history and culture, as well as natural attractions. You can start your day by visiting Wat Phra Baht Ming Meuang Worawiharn Temple, which is one of the oldest temples in Phrae. The temple houses a Buddha footprint that is believed to have been made by the Buddha himself when he visited this area. You can also see some ancient murals and sculptures in this temple. Next, you can visit Khum Chao Luang Museum, which is another teak house that was built in 1892 by Chao Luang Piriyathepwong, the last ruler of Phrae. The house is now a museum that displays the history and culture of Phrae, as well as the Chao Luang family’s belongings. You can see some of the rooms that were used by the Chao Luang (lord) and his family, such as the reception hall, the bedroom, and the library. Visit Vongbury House Museum, which is a teak house that was built in 1897 by Mae Chao Bua Tha, the first consort of Chao Luang Piriyathepwong, the last ruler of Phrae. The house showcases the lifestyle and culture of Phrae’s nobility in the past. You can see various antiques and artifacts that belong to the family, such as furniture, clothing, weapons, and photographs. You can also learn about the history and stories of this house and its owners.
Next, you can visit Wat Luang Temple, which is the largest and most important temple in Phrae. The temple dates back to the 14th century and has a mixture of Lanna, Burmese, and Thai styles. The temple features a large chedi with four Buddha images facing the four directions, a viharn with a beautiful wooden ceiling and a reclining Buddha image, and a ubosot with a golden Buddha image and murals depicting the life of the Buddha. You can also see some ancient inscriptions and statues in this temple. Continue to visit Phae Mueang Phi Forest Park (Ghost Canyon), a natural wonder in Thailand where soil and sandstone have eroded into various shapes. The park, which covers more than 40 acres, was established on March 4, 1981. It offers a scenic view of the cliffs and clay pillars, as well as a nature trail for visitors to explore the forest and learn about its geology. Phae Mueang Phi is a place of beauty and knowledge for tourists who appreciate nature. You can end your day by checking in at your hotel in Phrae. And if you’re in Phrae on Saturday, you can also visit the Saturday Walking Street Market, which is a weekly market that sells various products, such as handicrafts, clothes, accessories, and food. You can find some unique items that are made by local people, such as indigo-dyed fabrics, silverware, and pottery. You can also enjoy some live music and performances by local artists.
DAY 09: Phrae – Nan:
On the ninth day, you can drive from Phrae to Nan which is about an hour and a half away, Nan province is located in the mountainous region of northern Thailand, it is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. With its rich cultural heritage, breathtaking natural landscapes, and warm hospitality, Nan offers a perfect getaway for those seeking an authentic and off-the-beaten-path experience. Embark on a delightful journey in Nan Province, and immerse yourself in its beauty and tranquility. Begin your adventure by exploring Nan’s historical and cultural sites. Start your day at Wat Phumin, a magnificent temple renowned for its stunning murals depicting local life and legends. Admire the intricate artwork and soak in the serene atmosphere as you learn about Nan’s rich artistic heritage. Next, make your way to the Nan National Museum, located in a beautifully preserved colonial-style building. Here, you can delve into the province’s history and gain insight into its diverse ethnic groups, including the Tai Lue, Tai Yuan, and Hmong. The museum houses a collection of artifacts, ancient relics, and traditional crafts, offering a captivating glimpse into Nan’s past.
In the afternoon, visit the iconic Wat Phra That Khao Noi, perched on a hill overlooking Nan City. Climb the stairs to the temple and marvel at the panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. Witness the sunset casting its warm hues over the city, creating a magical and unforgettable moment. As night falls, immerse yourself in Nan’s vibrant night market, located near the Nan Clock Tower. Browse through stalls selling local handicrafts, textiles, and delicious street food. Indulge in crispy fried snacks, grilled skewers, and refreshing fruit shakes as you soak in the lively atmosphere and interact with locals and fellow travelers. Spend the night in Nan.
DAY 10: Nan – Pua:
Embark on the tenth day of your journey by immersing yourself in the captivating charm of the Floating Road of Nan Province, renowned as one of the most awe-inspiring routes in Thailand. Spanning across Santi Suk District, Bo Kluea District, and Pua District, this legendary road offers travelers an unforgettable experience as it winds along the mountain ridge, revealing breathtaking vistas and unspoiled natural wonders at every turn. Alongside the mesmerizing scenery, a multitude of captivating tourist attractions awaits those who venture along this enchanting path. To truly appreciate the Floating Road’s allure, it is recommended to embark on this adventure during the rainy season or winter. As you traverse the road that meanders atop the mountains, you may find yourself navigating through ethereal mists that seemingly suspend you in the heavens, earning this remarkable route its evocative name-the Floating Road.
Commencing your journey from Nan City, you will embark on Highway No. 1169, passing through quaint villages and picturesque agricultural landscapes until reaching the delightful Bo Kluea district. Nestled amidst the captivating surroundings, Bo Kluea is a small, yet cozy village renowned for its rock salt pond, where you can witness locals skillfully extracting salt from natural springs. Additionally, a visit to Sapan waterfall and Sapan village will offer you a glimpse into the authentic rural lifestyle and cultural heritage of the local people. Once you have reveled in the scenic beauty of Sapan Village, your expedition continues along Highway No. 1256, leading you to the breathtaking Doi Phu Kha View Point 1715-named after its impressive elevation. Perched within Doi Phu Kha National Park, this awe-inspiring vantage point treats visitors to panoramic views that will surely leave an indelible mark on their memories. After relishing the scenery along the Floating Road, your journey proceeds to Pua, where you can enjoy a well-deserved overnight stay in this delightful district.
DAY 11: Pua – Chiang Rai:
On your eleventh day, you can drive from Pua to Chiang Rai, which is about three hours away. Before reaching Chiang Rai, you will drive through Phayao Province. You can also visit Phayao Lake, which is a large lake with spectacular views, and then proceed to Chiang Rai. Chiang Rai is the northernmost province of Thailand, bordering Myanmar and Laos. It has a rich history and culture, as well as many natural and artistic attractions. You can start your day by visiting Wat Rong Khun, which is also known as the White Temple. This is a contemporary Buddhist temple that was designed by Thai artist Mr. Chalermchai Kositpipat. The temple is famous for its intricate all-white exterior, which symbolizes purity and wisdom. The temple also has many details and references to popular culture, such as superheroes, movie characters, and cartoons. You can admire the architecture and art of this temple, as well as see some of Chalermchai’s paintings in the gallery. Next, you can visit Singha Park, which is a large park that offers various activities and attractions for visitors. The park has a farm area where you can see animals such as zebras, giraffes, alpacas, and swans. You can also enjoy some recreational activities such as zip-lining, cycling, boating, or golfing. The park also has a restaurant where you can try some delicious food made from organic ingredients grown in the park.
Continue your journey to visit Wat Rong Suea Ten, which is also known as the Blue Temple. This is a contemporary Buddhist temple that was designed by Mr. Phuttha Kabkaew, a student of Mr. Chalermchai Kositpipat. The temple is famous for its striking blue color, which symbolizes Dharma, or truth. The temple also has many details and decorations that are inspired by Lanna culture and Buddhism. Next, you can visit Wat Phra Singh, which is one of the oldest and most important temples in Chiang Rai. The temple dates back to the 14th century and has Lanna-style architecture. The temple features a large chedi with four Buddha images facing the four directions, a viharn with a wooden roof and pillars, and a ubosot with a golden Buddha image and murals depicting the life of the Buddha. You can also see some ancient relics and statues in this temple. End your day by checking in at your hotel in Chiang Rai. You can also visit the Night Bazaar, which is a lively market that sells various goods, such as clothes, accessories, souvenirs, and street food. You can find some unique items that are made by local people, such as hill tribe fabrics, silverware, and pottery. You can also enjoy some live music and performances by local artists.
DAY 12: Chiang Rai Sightseeing:
On your twelfth day, venture deeper into this enchanting region and uncover the hidden gems that await you. Begin your day by immersing yourself in the splendor of Doi Tung Palace and Mae Fah Luang Garden. These renowned sites in Chiang Rai captivate tourists year-round. Adorned with meticulously arranged flowers that change with each season, Mae Fah Luang Garden promises a kaleidoscope of colors and fragrances to delight your senses. As you wander through this picturesque haven, you’ll also have the opportunity to admire the artistic wonders of Doi Tung Palace, which showcases the distinctive Lanna style of art and architecture. Next, set your sights on Mae Sai District, Thailand’s northernmost district that shares a border with Myanmar’s Tachilek province. The Mae Sai River acts as a natural divide, while a bridge connects the two cities. Standing on the Thai side, you can catch a glimpse of Myanmar’s captivating beauty. Don’t miss the chance to explore Mae Sai Market, a renowned border market that has long been a hub of cross-cultural exchange. Here, both Thai and Myanmar locals engage in bustling trade, making it the largest shopping district in northern Thailand. With an array of shops lining every alley, you’ll discover an abundance of products at affordable prices, ranging from electrical appliances and local goods to herbs, wicker items, dry food, and more.
Continue your journey to the heart of the Golden Triangle, nestled in Sop Ruak Village, Chiang Saen District. Here, the Mekong River separates Thailand and Laos, while the Ruak River serves as a boundary between Thailand and Myanmar. From this vantage point, you’ll have a panoramic view of both Myanmar and Laos. Once notorious as a major opium cultivation region, the Golden Triangle has a storied past shrouded in mystery. The area earned its name from the opulent trade of raw opium for gold, also known as “black gold.” Today, with the changing times, opium cultivation and trade are relics of the past, leaving behind captivating legends. To truly appreciate the natural beauty and vibrant local life, embark on a leisurely cruise along the Mekong River. As one of the world’s most significant waterways, the Mekong River originates from the snow-capped peaks of the Tibetan Plateau in northern Tibet and Qinghai county in China. It meanders through mountains and plateaus, traverses Yunnan county in China, and flows into the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, and Thailand in the fabled “Golden Triangle” region of Chiang Saen District, Chiang Rai Province. Acting as a demarcation line between Thailand and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Mekong River has sustained the livelihoods of communities on both sides for centuries. It serves as a vital artery connecting diverse economies and cultures before emptying into the South China Sea in Vietnam, spanning an impressive length of 4,880 kilometers. Returning to Chiang Rai and spend another night.
DAY 13: Chiang Rai – Ban Tha Ton:
On your thirteenth day, you can drive from Chiang Rai to Ban Tha Ton, which is about two and a half hours away. Ban Tha Ton is a small town that is located on the border of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces, along the Kok River. It is a peaceful and scenic place that offers some activities and attractions for visitors. However, to make your trip perfect for the day, along the way to Ban Tha Ton you should visit Wat Huai Pla Kang and Doi Mae Salong before heading to Ban Tha Ton. Wat Huay Pla Kang Temple is another gorgeous temple in Chiang Rai, situated on a small hill with stunning views. The outstanding features of this temple are the 9-storey, 12-sided chedi with a strange shape; a pointed shape, exquisitely decorated with Chinese and Lanna arts; and a red roof with two dragon statues stretching on both sides of the stairs leading up to the chedi. Inside the Chedi is also enshrined the Goddess Guan Yin Bodhisattva in the posture of giving blessings and forgiveness, made of large sandalwood. Moreover, Wat Huay Pla Kang Temple also has a white chapel and a statue of Guan Yin Bodhisattva that is 69 meters tall. An elevator system has been installed inside the Guan Yin Bodhisattva so that tourists can easily go up and see the beautiful landscapes of Chiang Rai.
Next, visit Doi Mae Salong, which is a mountain village that has a Chinese influence. The village was founded by former Kuomintang soldiers who fled from China after losing the civil war. The village has a unique culture and atmosphere, with tea plantations, Chinese temples, and Yunnan-style houses. You can also try some of the local products, such as oolong tea, dried fruits, and preserved plums. Continue your journey to Ban Tha Ton and visit Wat Tha Ton Temple, which is a Buddhist temple that is located on top of a hill overlooking the town and the river. The temple has several buildings and statues that are decorated with different colors and styles, such as white, gold, red, and blue. End your day by checking in at the hotel in Ban Thaton, relaxing in the peaceful atmosphere of a wonderful rural village.
DAY 14: Ban Tha Ton – Pai:
On your fourteenth day, you can drive from Ban Tha Ton to Pai, which is about three hours away. Pai is a popular destination for backpackers and travelers who are looking for a laid-back and hippie vibe. Pai has many natural and artistic attractions, as well as a lively nightlife. Start your day by visiting Pong Dueat Hot Springs which is nestled amidst the lush jungle, this large-sized hot spring takes the form of a geyser, releasing regular bursts of steam into the air. Standing at an impressive height of approximately 1-2 meters, the hot spring boasts four large ponds as well as scattered smaller ones. The underground water, with temperatures ranging between 170-200 degrees Celsius, emerges to the surface where it reaches a balmy 90-100 degrees Celsius. The area is accompanied by the constant presence of the distinct sulfur smell, a testament to the thermal activity at play. Surrounded by the captivating jungle, the Pong Dueat Hot Spring also offers an opportunity to explore nature through a designated route. Stretching approximately 1.5 kilometers, this nature trail provides a circular path through the forest, adorned with towering trees, lush ferns, and moss-covered scenery. The route is carefully designed to offer a diverse and immersive experience, ensuring you won’t retrace your steps. A long bridge spans a section of the trail, enhancing the enchanting ambiance. Informative signboards along the way provide valuable insights into the hot spring itself as well as the various plant species you’ll encounter, enriching your understanding of the natural surroundings.
Continuing on a journey to discover the wonders that await within the boundaries of Huai Nam Dang National Park. Spanning over 1,275 square kilometers, Huai Nam Dang National Park is located in the provinces of Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son. Its name derives from the park’s main feature, the Nam Dang River, which winds its way through the park, carving stunning valleys and gorges along its path. The park’s elevation ranges from 400 to 1,962 meters above sea level, resulting in a diverse range of ecosystems and a remarkable variety of flora and fauna. One of the most enchanting aspects of Huai Nam Dang National Park is its cool climate, which makes it a refreshing retreat from Thailand’s tropical heat. Visitors can revel in the crisp mountain air and immerse themselves in the park’s verdant landscapes, which are adorned with lush forests of evergreen and deciduous trees. These forests are home to an astonishing array of plant species, including rare orchids and towering bamboo groves, creating a paradise for botany enthusiasts.
Continuing your journey, make your way to the captivating Pai district, a place steeped in history and vibrant cultural experiences. Traverse the World War II historical road, which winds its way through the picturesque landscape, treating you to panoramic views of majestic mountains. The road, characterized by numerous sharp curves as it ascends and descends the hills, is a testament to the engineering marvels of the past. Upon arrival in Pai, embrace the lively and enchanting atmosphere of the walking street. As evening falls, this vibrant thoroughfare comes alive, offering a delightful glimpse into the local lifestyle. Meander along the street, exploring an array of stalls that showcase handmade products, clothing, jewelry, and traditional baskets, among many other unique souvenirs. Immerse yourself in the bustling ambiance as locals and visitors alike converge to indulge in shopping and cultural experiences. When hunger strikes, the walking street doesn’t disappoint. Indulge in a culinary adventure by sampling the diverse offerings from international and Thai restaurants that line the street. From delectable street food to mouthwatering local delicacies, there’s something to satisfy every palate. The walking street remains open to pedestrians from 5 p.m. until midnight, providing ample time to explore, discover, and immerse yourself in the vibrant nightlife of Pai. After a day filled with exploration and cultural encounters, find a cozy place to spend the night, allowing yourself to fully unwind and prepare for more adventures in the days to come.
DAY 15: Pai Sightseeing:
Spend the day exploring the natural wonders surrounding Pai. Visit the iconic Pai Bamboo Bridge, known as “Khokuso,” a testament to faith and community. Constructed by villagers, this meandering bamboo bridge gracefully traverses the rice fields, with majestic mountains serving as a breathtaking backdrop. Originally built to facilitate the passage of monks to the Huai Khai Khiri temple for their morning alms, the bridge now offers convenience for both locals and tourists, enabling them to traverse the landscape and immerse themselves in the beauty of the forests, mountains, and rice fields along the way. Immerse yourself in history by visiting the Memorial Bridge, a relic from the Second World War when Japan wielded significant influence in Thailand. Serving as a strategic transportation route for troops and arms destined for Myanmar. Although it has been replaced by a modern structure, the worn-out Memorial Bridge holds historical significance and serves as a poignant site for visitors to capture photos, commemorating its past and preserving cherished memories of their time in Pai District. Indulge your sense of wonder at Pai Canyon, also known as Kong Lan. This captivating natural attraction arises from the geological subsidence of soil on elevated mountains, sculpted over time by the relentless forces of wind and rain. Deep trenches resembling cliffs and elongated ridges span over 3 acres, creating a mesmerizing expanse. Surrounding the Pai Canyon, a mixed deciduous forest thrives, boasting a diverse array of plant life. Traverse the narrow, precipitous trails that wind along the ridges, offering panoramic vistas of lush forests and gaping chasms below. From the pinnacle of Pai Canyon, visitors can marvel at the charming villages and fertile farmland nestled beneath a backdrop of towering mountains.
Continue your journey by visiting Tha Pai Hot Springs, natural thermal springs renowned for their varying temperatures and mineral content. Here, you can luxuriate in the therapeutic pools, relishing the rejuvenating properties of the warm water for your skin and overall well-being. As you explore the area, you may also encounter geysers and steam vents, further exemplifying the wonders of this geothermal paradise. Embark on a cultural immersion at Santichon village, inhabited by the Yunnan Chinese people who migrated from China and settled here generations ago. This village has remained steadfast in preserving its distinctive Yunnan Chinese style, evident in its architecture, decorations, and overall ambiance. A short distance from Santichon village lies the Yun Lai viewpoint, offering a mesmerizing panorama of Pai city nestled amidst expansive paddy fields and a rugged mountain range. Conclude your exploration with a visit to Wat Phra That Mae Yen Temple, perched atop the lofty hill of Mae Yen village. From this elevated vantage point, visitors are treated to sweeping vistas of Pai city and its picturesque landscape. Particularly during sunrise and sunset, as radiant sunlight illuminates the horizon against a backdrop of intricate mountain ranges, an indelibly beautiful and awe-inspiring scene unfolds, etching itself forever in the memories of those fortunate enough to witness it. End your day by returning to your hotel in Pai. You can also visit Pai’s Nightlife, which is a lively scene that offers various bars, clubs, and pubs for you to enjoy. You can find some places that suit your mood and taste, such as live music venues, reggae bars, rooftop bars, or dance clubs.
DAY 16: Pai Mae Hong Son:
On your sixteenth day, you can drive from Pai to Mae Hong Son, which is about two and a half hours away. Mae Hong Son is the capital city of the province with the same name, and it is known for its misty mountains, cultural diversity, and natural beauty. Start your day by visiting the Doi Kiew Lom Viewpoint, a well-known spot among both Thai and foreign visitors. The viewpoint offers a breathtaking sight of a spectacular sea of mist that gathers in the valley, creating a magical and ethereal atmosphere. Along with its misty beauty, the area is adorned with various types of colorful flowers, adding to the charm of this natural wonder. Continuing the journey, travelers will arrive at Tham Lod Cave, one of the most significant archaeological sites in the region. The cave features a flowing stream known as “Lang” that traverses from one end to the other, creating a mesmerizing underground world adorned with stalactites and stalagmites. The cave’s interior showcases a variety of early-age antique tools and utensils, believed to be over 2,000 years old, offering a glimpse into ancient human history and cultural practices. Aside from admiring the cave’s magnificent splendor, visitors have the opportunity to partake in other exciting 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. Furthermore, short treks around the cave offer an opportunity to explore the surrounding natural beauty, embracing the tranquility of the lush landscapes that envelop the area.
Then, continue your journey to Baan Jabo, the 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, particularly rice farming and corn planting, is their primary 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. End your day by checking in at your hotel in Mae Hong Son. You can also visit Nong Chong Kham Night Market, which is a market that sells various goods, such as clothes, accessories, souvenirs, and food. You can find some unique items that are made by local people, such as hill tribe fabrics, silverware, and pottery. You can also enjoy some live music and performances by local artists.
DAY 17: Mae Hong Son Sightseeing:
On your seventeenth day, you can explore more of Mae Hong Son’s attractions. Start your day by visiting Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu temple, a sacred site on top of Kong Mu Mountain. You can admire two magnificent pagodas that date back to the 19th century and enjoy the panoramic view of the town surrounded by mountains and valleys. Next, visit Wat Chong Kham and Wat Chong Klang, two ancient temples near a swamp. You can see their exquisite Burmese-style architecture and the revered Buddha image (Luang Paw To). You can also marvel at the intricate Burmese wood carving dolls and the grand glass paintings that depict Buddhist history in Wat Chong Klang. After that, head to the remarkable Su Tong Pae Bridge, the longest bamboo bridge in Thailand. This stunning bridge connects Suan Tham Phusama Temple to the charming Kung Mai Sak village. As you walk on this classic bamboo bridge, you can see the beautiful scenery of green paddy fields and calm canals. The bridge is not only a picturesque pathway but also a convenient route for monks and villagers. The experience is especially mesmerizing in the rainy season, when the bridge blends with nature, and in the winter, when the paddy fields shine in the sunlight.
Next, make your way to Baan Rak Thai village, near the Thailand-Myanmar border. This village has a unique history and culture, as it was settled by Chinese Nationalist troops. You can be captivated by the stunning mountain views, the scenic lakes, and the colorful plants that embrace the village. You can also wander through the lush green tea plantations that curve along the mountainside. While in Baan Rak Thai, you can indulge in the delicious Yunnan cuisine and savor the esteemed Chinese tea that reflect the village’s heritage. Finally, bask in the tranquility of Shan village, also known as Baan Ruam Thai or Pang Oung, set amidst a rugged mountain range. Here, you can see a mesmerizing reservoir that is often called “Switzerland in Thailand,” surrounded by pine forests and winter flowers. The cool weather throughout the year creates a serene atmosphere, perfect for admiring the fog that gently covers the lake in the mornings. The beauty of this place attracts tourists in all seasons. End your day by returning to your hotel in Mae Hong Son for overnight stay.
DAY 18: Mae Hong Son Chiang Mai:
On your eighteenth day, you can drive from Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai, which is about five hours away. Chiang Mai is the largest city in northern Thailand, and it is known for its rich history, culture, and art. You can start your day by visiting Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand, with an altitude of 2,565 meters above sea level. It is part of the Thanon Thongchai Mountain Range, which extends from the Himalayas across several countries. Doi Inthanon has different climate zones and forests that you can explore. At the top, you can enjoy the amazing views of the surroundings. The park’s cool weather, beautiful scenery, and lush forests attract visitors from all over the world. You can also admire the Twin Royal Pagodas, Napamethanidol and Napapolpumisiri, on a hill within Doi Inthanon National Park. These pagodas were built by the Air Force and the people of Thailand to commemorate the 60th anniversary of King Bhumibol Adulyadej Rama 9 in 1987 and to honor Queen Sirikit on her 60th birthday in 1992. The pagodas are surrounded by winter flower gardens and various plants. The park’s cool weather makes these structures more impressive, and you can see spectacular views that are among the most beautiful in Chiang Mai.
Next, visit Wachirathan Waterfall, a stunning single-tiered waterfall that flows all year round. It has a height of 70 meters and falls into a calm pool below. During the rainy season, you can see rainbows around Wachirathan Waterfall when the sun shines on the mist created by the water. This makes the waterfall more captivating and enchanting. Then, immerse yourself in the colorful flower fields and explore different vegetables and fruits at the Royal Agricultural Station Inthanon. This is a research facility for winter plants, where they study flowers, ornamental plants, vegetables, fruits, and highland fisheries. The research results help with sustainable development, social welfare, forest conservation, and local economy improvement. The station also helps the hill tribe farmers who live in nearby villages to earn income. You can end your day by checking in at your hotel in Chiang Mai. You can also visit Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, a market that sells various products, such as clothes, accessories, souvenirs, and food.
DAY 19: Chiang Mai Sightseeing:
On your nineteenth day, you can explore more of Chiang Mai’s attractions. Start your day by visiting Wat Prathat Doi Suthep Temple, a sacred and historic site on top of Doi Suthep Mountain. It is one of Thailand’s most revered temples, and it overlooks the city of Chiang Mai from 1,053 meters above sea level. The temple was founded in 1383 and has nearly 300 stairs leading up to the Mon-style pagoda that contains Lord Buddha’s relics. The temple is also known as “Praboromathat Doi Suthep Woravihan Temple,” and it showcases Thai Lanna art and Chiang Mai’s cultural heritage. Many people come here to worship and admire its beauty, as well as the stunning views of Chiang Mai from the temple grounds. Next, visit the beautiful Phra Tamnak Bhubing Rajanives Palace, a Thai-style palace surrounded by greenery. The palace has gardens, streams, ponds, and flowers that create a scenic landscape. The highlight is the amazing variety of roses that grow in different sizes and colors, and attract many visitors. During the colder months, the palace becomes a paradise garden, where hundreds of rose types fill the air with their fragrance.
Continue your adventure to Doi Pui Village, where the Hmong hill tribe lives within the Doi Suthep Pui National Park at an altitude of 1,658 meters. The village is surrounded by tall trees, pine forests, and the locals’ gardens of vegetables, fruits, and winter flowers. The winter months between December and January are especially enchanting, as the mountains are decorated with blooming wild pink Himalayan cherry blossoms, a mesmerizing sight. The village also has a viewpoint where you can see the mountains in the distance. Explore the heart of Chiang Mai city with a visit to Wat Chedi Luang Worawihan Temple, an ancient and grand temple with a history. It is one of the largest and oldest temples in the region, and it has a large pagoda in Lanna style, though the top was damaged by an earthquake in 1545. The temple is also known as Rajakudakan or Chotikaram Temple, and it was built during the reign of King Prachao Sanmuangma in the 14th century. It has been renovated several times and remains one of Chiang Mai’s most revered pagodas. End your day by checking in at a hotel in Chiang Mai for another night. You can also visit Tha Pae Gate, which is one of the four original gates that were part of the city wall. The gate is a popular spot for tourists and locals to hang out and enjoy some activities, such as walking, cycling, or watching the street performers.
DAY 20: Chiang Mai – Bangkok:
On your twentieth day in Thailand, you have two choices for your return journey to Bangkok. The first option is to return the rental car to Chiang Mai and then catch a flight from there to Bangkok. However, keep in mind that this option will incur an additional cost for the car rental. Alternatively, you can embark on a scenic road trip from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, which will take approximately nine hours. This option allows you to enjoy the picturesque landscapes along the way and experience the diverse beauty of Thailand as you make your way to the bustling capital. Upon arriving in Bangkok in the evening, you can check in at a comfortable hotel to rest and freshen up. Later in the night, venture out to savor the vibrant atmosphere of Bangkok once again. This will be an excellent opportunity to bid farewell to this captivating city and reflect on the incredible journey you’ve had throughout Thailand. Both options have their own merits and offer unique experiences. The flight back will be more time-efficient and may be preferred if you wish to reach Bangkok quickly and comfortably. On the other hand, the road trip will grant you the chance to witness the country’s scenic beauty and add another adventure to your travel memories.
DAY 21: Bangkok Departure:
On the twenty-first and final day of your Thai adventure, it’s time to bid farewell to this beautiful country and head back home with cherished memories. Begin your day by departing from Bangkok and making your way to Suvarnabhumi Airport. If you haven’t returned the rental car in Chiang Mai, now is the time to do so at the airport. After returning the rental car, proceed to the airport’s check-in counter for your flight back home. As you wait to board your flight, take a moment to reflect on the incredible experiences and adventures you’ve had during your stay in Thailand. Throughout your journey, you’ve explored the captivating cities, marveled at ancient temples, lounged on stunning mountains, and immersed yourself in the rich culture of Thailand. These unforgettable moments have undoubtedly left a lasting impression on your heart. As you bid farewell to Thailand, take with you the warmth of its people, the vibrancy of its cities, and the serenity of its natural wonders. Thailand has welcomed you with open arms, and it’s now time to carry the memories of this remarkable journey back to your home. As your flight takes off and the beautiful landscapes of Thailand fade from view, remember that this is not a goodbye, but rather a “see you again.” Thailand’s allure will always beckon you, and the memories you’ve created will serve as a reminder of the incredible adventures that await you in the future. May the enchanting spirit of Thailand stay with you as you return home, and may the memories of this extraordinary trip continue to bring joy and inspiration in your daily life. Until we meet again, Thailand!