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Thailand Northern Loop Exploration in 12 days

Hit the road for a journey through Thailand’s north, a region of spectacular natural landscapes and intriguing cultures. Take a boat trip along the Golden Triangle and go caving near Pai. Meet ethnic hill tribes in scenic traditional villages before wrapping up the adventure at majestic Doi Inthanon. Everything is included within our 12-day Thailand Northern Loop Tour.

HIGHLIGHTS

Various activities on sites

  • Sightseeing the city of Bangkok and Chiang Mai with plenty of historic & cultural spots.
  • Road trip to visit Golden Triangle and its surrounding interesting spots.
  • Natural exploration in the islands of Phuket, Koh Phi Phi in the Andaman sea.
  • Cruising the Andaman sea to explore Koh Phi Phi & many small islands along the way

Unforgettable moments

  • Cruising the Damnoen Saduak floating market and admiring the local life
  • Admiring the nature and local life in Chiang Rai & Golden Triangle in northern Thailand.
  • Seeing the charming of Chiang Mai and its surrounding nature
  • Staying up close to the big elephant, feeling its breath, and learning about is habitats

Nature exploration

  • The nature of the countryside near Bangkok in Samut Songkhram
  • The evergreen nature of northern Thailand & its surrounding area
  • The islands and islets nature of Andaman sea

Culture experience

  • The bustling culture of Bangkok & the local life
  • The culture of various ethnic tribes in northern Thailand
  • The peasant culture of the people living in the countryside of Chiang Mai & southern Thailand

Map

Detailed schedule

Day 1 - Welcome to Chiang Rai

Upon arrival at the airport in Chiang Rai, transfer to your hotel in town.
Chiang Rai Province, Thailand’s northernmost province, is a geographical mishmash. The mountains in the far east are among the most dramatic in the country, the lowland Mekong River floodplains to the northeast are not unlike those one would find much further south in Isaan, while the province shares borders with Myanmar and Laos. Those nearby frontiers help ensure that Chiang Rai is one of the most ethnically diverse provinces in Thailand, home to a significant minority of hill peoples, Shan and other Tai groups, as well as immigrants from China.
Free for the rest of the day for your own exploration.
Overnight in Chiang Rai

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Day 2 - Chiang Rai - Golden Triangle

After breakfast at the hotel, enjoy a half-day sightseeing tour of Chiang Rai City. Transfer from the hotel to the Hilltribe Education Center and Museum to get deep insights into the history and culture of hilltribe people who have called the area home for centuries. 
From there, board a samlor (rickshaw), and start with a ride to the main market area to get a feel for the local life in town. Continue to Wat Phra Kaew with its beautiful brass and copper Buddha image. 
End the half-day Chiang Rai tour with a visit to Wat Rong Khun for a look at its unique kanok-style architecture.
Midday, enjoy lunch at Chivit Thammada Coffee Shop and Restaurant.
Afterwards, visit the ancient Kingdom of Chiang Saen on the banks of Mekong River to see the magnificent ancient ruins of Wat Pasak. 
From there, embark on a longtail boat trip to the Golden Triangle area and visit the Hall of Opium (note: the Hall of Opium is closed on Mondays.) 
The museum is dedicated to teaching about the history of the opium which once proliferated in the area, and the problems caused by narcotics.
Overnight in Golden Triangle.

Notes

Chiang Rai – Chiang Saen (89.3 km): 1.39 hr

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Day 3 - Golden Triangle - Mae Salong - Thaton

Depart from the hotel after breakfast and head to Doi Mae Salong for a visit to the Akha hilltribe at Hloyo Village. Upon arrival, receive warm greetings from the village headman and other villagers. The local host will provide insight about Akha people which includes describing their beliefs, religions, traditions, and ways of life. Visit the Akha Museum uniquely built in a mud house with recycled bottles as windows.
Afterwards, take a tour of the community to witness the charming and peaceful Akha lifestyle. See traditional bamboo houses in Akha-style where local people use their wisdom to build their own house by hand. Then enjoy a hands-on tribal crafts session with locals. Later, partake in a cooking class for some signature Akha dishes. Get involved and help in the kitchen while learning local methods! Then, enjoy a home-cooked lunch with the local host while exchanging stories. After lunch, it is time to say goodbye to the host family, the community and new friends.
From the Akha village, head for the town of Mae Salong, which was founded in the 1960s by former Kuo Mintang soldiers who had been expelled from Myanmar. Visit their tea and coffee plantations, which give an amazing photo opportunities, before continuing to Thaton.
Overnight in Thaton.
 

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Day 4 - Thaton - Pai

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before departing to the mountainous area of Chiang Dao. 
Visit the astounding Chiang Dao Caves for some easy exploration of its caverns and natural limestone formations. Picnic lunch will be taken on the way. 
Afterwards, continue towards Pai with stops en route at Mok Fah Waterfall and Pong Duad Hot Spring.
Overnight in Pai.

Notes

Thaton – Chiang Dao (131 km): 2.21 hr Chiang Dao – Pai (134 km): 2.53 hr

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Day 5 - Pai - Tham Lod cave - Mae Hong Son

After breakfast, continue towards Soppong. The area boasts limestone caves that are said to be some of the largest in Southeast Asia. Follow a series of walkways and cross small creeks by bamboo raft to reach the cavern. In the darkness of the cavern, listen to and smell the bats buzzing overhead. After the cave experience, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before continuing by car to Tham Pla, a splendid natural area whose focal point is a cave with creeks flowing out of it that are filled with unusually large fish. After checking out this unique area, continue to Mae Hong Son.
Upon arrival, drive around the central lake to visit Burmese-style temples Wat Chong Klang and Wat Chong Kham.
Overnight in Mae Hong Son.

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Day 6 - Mae Hong Son

Enjoy an early breakfast at the hotel before heading on a scenic drive up the nearby mountains to visit Pang Oung, located in Ban Ruam Thai. 
As part of Pang Tong Royal Development Project, Pang Oung, also known as the ‘Switzerland of Thailand’, is a beautiful place that can be visited all year round. It offers gorgeous views of a scenic lake nestled in a valley which glitters with sunlight in the morning hours. 
After a visit, transfer to Ban Rak Thai Village (Love Thailand Village), a small village with a Yunnan Chinese culture that lingers despite its inhabitants having immigrated to Thailand centuries ago.  Here, sip tea at the village and mingle with locals before enjoying lunch.
After lunch, drive back to Mae Hong Son.
Overnight in Mae Hong Son. 

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Day 7 - Mae Hong Son - Khun Yuam - Mae Sariang

After breakfast, start the day with a short transfer to Baan Huai Dua Boat Landing and take a 30- minute longtail boat ride along a scenic route with marvelous views of the Pai River. 
Return to the boat pier and continue to Khun Yuam for lunch, followed by a visit of a World War II Museum containing an assortment of weapons, uniforms, military equipment and personal possessions left behind by Japanese soldiers who took possession of the town in the closing weeks of the war in neighboring Myanmar.
In the late afternoon, arrive in Mae Sariang and enjoy a short cycling trip in this charming city.
Overnight in Mae Sariang.
 

Notes

Mae Hong Son – Khun Yuam (85 km): 1.41 hr Khun Yuam – Mae Sarieng (84.9 km): 1.37 hr

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Day 8 - Mae Sariang - Doi Inthanon - Chiang Mai

After breakfast, depart for Doi Inthanon National Park,.home to Thailand’s highest peak – Doi Inthanon. The park is especially popular among bird watchers, with more than 300 species reported to be living in the area. 
Visit the mountain’s summit to see the shrine of Chao Inthawitchayanon, the former prince of Chiang Mai, before stopping at Wat Phra That Chom Thong with its holy relic and ancient treasures. 
A short trek along Michael’s Trail offers a beautiful and unforgettable experience. Lunch is served at a local restaurant. Afterwards, proceed to Chiang Mai where we will spend the night.

Notes

Mae Sarieng – Doi Inthanon National Park (154 km): 3 hr Doi Inthanon National Park – Chiang Mai (88 km): 1.27 hr

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Day 9 - Chiang Mai exploration

Today’s tour begins at 09:00. Uncover the secrets behind Thailand’s famous dishes at the Pantawan Cooking School. Travel south of the city centre to a traditional teakwood house to meet with a local chef. After a short introduction on the day’s activities, head out to a nearby fresh market.
Browse the stalls of this colourful and lively market. See exotic herbs and spices and learn about their uses. During the visit, the chef will introduce local vendors and explain about Thailand’s food culture.
Armed with a basic knowledge of Thai cuisine and its ingredients, return to Pantawan and start cooking! Chop vegetables, stir spicy sauces and fry up sizzling dishes. Throughout the course the chef will share his personal story and offer tips and hints for preparing these dishes at home. When everything is ready, sit down and enjoy the delicious fresh dishes. Savour the delicate flavours of home-cooked Thai cuisine, enjoying the results of the day’s activities. Receive a nice apron embroidered with your name on it as a memorable souvenir.
In the afternoon, step into one of the city’s most revered pagodas, Wat Suan Dok. Witness local devotees deep in prayer or paying homage to the mausoleum where the ashes of the former Royal Family are interred. Learn about the beliefs and traditions of Thailand’s Buddhists. Continue on the spiritual trail, leaving the city centre, and taking a winding drive into the hills. Climb up the staircase of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, admiring the intricate naga carvings along the way. Upon reaching the top, explore the 14th-century pagoda and hear about its origins. Wander around the towering gilded stupa and take a moment to enjoy the views of Chiang Mai in the distance.
Then take a leisurely stroll down the Doi Suthep and enjoy the serenity of mountainous view mingled with graceful color blooms and Lanna umbrellas. Breathe in the clean air while savouring some exquisite English afternoon tea alongside scones, finger sandwiches, cookies and cakes. Before the sun sets, visit one of Doi Suthep’s monks and receive a blessing of good health and good fortune.  Then witness the magical evening chanting of the monks, a serene way to end the day’s spiritual tour.
Return back to the hotel.
Overnight at 137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai.

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Day 10 - Chiang Mai - Elephant experience

Take away breakfast from the hotel.
This full day elephant experience begins at 07:30. Be picked up from the hotel and transfer by 4WD for about an hour to the Elephant Discovery Camp, located in a private natural area up on a hill which is not open to the public.
Upon arrival at the camp, meet an elephant mahout, be introduced to the elephants, and learn about their story and daily lifestyle. Interact and play with the elephants under mahouts’ supervision and form a bond with them. Enjoy walking alongside these gentle giants and watching them play in the mud pond. Learn to communicate with them and how to prepare nutritional food and desserts for them using various natural ingredients.
Have fun bathing and soaking with the elephants in a big pond. Enjoy picnic lunch box from the hotel.
Return to hotel.
Overnight at 137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai.

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Day 11 - Chiang Mai - Temple

You will be picked up at either 08:00 or 13:00. Be introduced to the culture and history of the city on this Chiang Mai temple tour. Head to the centre of town with a local guide and visit Tapae Gate, the main entrance to the old walled city. See the crumbling walls and hear about Chiang Mai’s rich past.
Then hop on a pedal-powered trishaw to explore the old town. Visit the Three Kings Monument on the way to Wat Phra Singh, one of the city’s most revered temples. See the various buildings in the compound, admire its ancient Buddha image and hear about its 700-year history. Then continue foot to Wat Chedi Luang, an impressive monument that once housed the country’s famed Emerald Buddha.
Continue onwards to Chiang Mai’s silver making district, one of the city’s traditional crafts neighborhoods. Observe silversmiths at work on impressive murals unique to Northern Thailand and admire their skilled craftsmanship. Then take a short drive to Wat Sri Suphan, a unique temple made from ornate silver.
Following this introduction to Chiang Mai’s heritage, culture and temples, return to the hotel.
 

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Day 12 - Chiang Mai - Departure

You are free to stroll around the town for your own exploration before taking the departure flight

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Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced these changes on Thursday after the National Communicable Diseases Committee (NCDC) had a meeting on Wednesday.

Instead of isolating those who have contracted the disease would be required to wear a mask, socially distance themselves from others and wash their hands frequently for the first five days. They also need to stay away from those who are immunocompromised and vulnerable.

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