Welcome to Northern Thailand


The region’s premier draw is its nature, and its rugged geography is a playground for outdoor pursuits ranging from a rafting excursion in Um Phang to a hike among wild orchids in Mae Hong Son.

For those drawn to the human side of things, there’s also northern Thailand’s buffet of cultural attractions. The region is regarded as the birthplace of much of Thai culture and is a great place to take part in activities, from exploring a Buddhist temple in Phrae to crashing at a homestay in rural Sukhothai.

In the north, even niche players are catered for: intrepid explorers can join a hill-tribe trek in Mae Sariang or a road trip to Phayao; history buffs can travel back in time at Sukhothai Historical Park; and even the most devout beach bum could be converted by the inland party scene in Pai.


Top experiences in Northern Thailand

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Northern Thailand activities

$96.43 Cultural & Theme Tours

Myanmar Temples & Golden Triangle Private Tour from Chiang Rai

Your experienced guide picks you up from your Chiang Rai hotel by private car and takes you to the Thai-Myanmar border. Once you cross into Tachileik, Myanmar, zip around in a tuk tuk – a three-wheeled unenclosed taxi –to see several temples and glimpses of Burmese life. At your first stop, the Temple of the Enrobed Elephant, marvel at the intricate gold-trimmed building as your guide explains the architectural details. Next you’ll see the Maha Muni pagoda, a fine example of typical Burmese temple architecture. Continue to Tachileik’s replica of the Shwedagon Pagoda – a famous gilded stupa in Yangon, Myanmar. The temple grounds showcase sculptures of mythical creatures, statues of Buddha’s disciples flanking a large golden Buddha and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Afterward, visit a Long-neck Karen Hill Tribe village. Traditionally, the womens' elongated necks, adorned in heavy brass coils, represented beauty and tribal identity. Please be respectful as you walk the village grounds by limiting photo ops. If you wish to purchase handicrafts, local artisans have their wares for sale and the income helps support the community. Enjoy a lunch break at a local restaurant where your guide helps you select delicious Burmese dishes to sample. After lunch, browse through the market area for an array of goods (own expense) ranging from modern clothing and DVDs to crafts and thanaka – a yellowish face powder commonly used as makeup by Burmese women and girls.Cross back into Thailand and take a scenic drive to the Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet. Once the world’s top producer of opium, this region is now known for tea production. Learn more about the fascinating history of the Golden Triangle as you visit the Hall of Opium, an excellent museum that details the history of the opium trade. On Mondays the Hall of Opium is closed; in that case, you visit another opium museum and take a boat trip on the Mekong River. After your daylong private tour of Tachileik and the Golden Triangle, your guide will return you to your Chiang Rai hotel in the late afternoon.

$81.27 Cultural & Theme Tours

Hill Tribes, Golden Triangle Private Tour with Opium Museum

Drive on to the Golden Triangle area, where the borders of Thailand, Burma, and Laos convene, Visit the Opium Museum. Continue to the old city of Chiang Saen, dating back to A.D.1260 and set on the steep banks of the Mekhong river, opposite to Laos. Witness some magnificent ancient ruins and temples. Return to your hotel.

$87.10 Outdoor Activities

Full-Day Hike and Zipline Tour in Mae Sa Valley from Chiang Mai

Your day trip starts with hotel pickup in Chiang Mai by pickup truck. Hop in the covered back of the truck, and take off to Mae Sa Valley, a 1-hour journey. When you arrive on the outskirts of a hill tribe village, embark with your guide on your 2-hour hike with a gradual climb past some village houses. Before long, you will be surrounded by unspoiled jungle with your experienced, local guide to lead the way. Because this is a local trail, there’s a chance you will encounter people going about their daily tasks in the area which is always interesting. Throughout the hike, you will come across a selection of flora and fauna and pass through a variety of farmland (depends on the season). Your friendly local guide will share their knowledge of the area and explain the customs of village life in Northern Thailand.At midday, after you've worked up quite an appetite, transfer to the zipline location for a Thai lunch, or make a stop at a picturesque waterfall to enjoy a picnic lunch (your guide makes this decision based on weather conditions and other factors). Then begin your zipline tour with a safety briefing and equipment fitting. Across nine different ziplines, you'll zoom through the jungle from one tree to another, taking in the rainforest environment while enjoying the adrenaline rush. In addition to the zipline course, this activity includes two abseils, one bamboo bridge, one hill tribe ladder, one kung fu walk, one monkey bridge, one sky bridge, one spiral staircase, one zigzag walkway, and one wooden walkway.At the end of your action-packed day, relax on the transfer back to your Chiang Mai accommodation, arriving in the evening.

$74.66 Outdoor Activities

Full-Day Hike and Bike Tour in Mae Sa Valley from Chiang Mai

Your day trip starts with hotel pickup in Chiang Mai for the 1-hour drive to Mae Sa Valley. When you arrive on the outskirts of a hill tribe village, follow your guide on a 2-hour hike with a gradual climb past some village houses. Before long, you will be surrounded by unspoiled jungle with our experienced, local guide to lead the way. Because this is a local trail, there’s a chance you will encounter people going about their daily tasks in the area which is always interesting. Throughout the hike, you will come across a selection of flora and fauna and pass through a variety of farmland (depends on the season). Your friendly local guide will share their knowledge of the area and explain the customs of village life in Northern Thailand.At midday, after you've worked up an appetite, head to a picturesque waterfall to enjoy a picnic lunch of Thai cuisine. Later, begin a relaxing afternoon of cycling. Find yourself riding through village alleyways, rice fields and rural roads of Mae Sa valley - an excellent way to see the local way of life. Take a few off-road trails to get off the beaten track.After a day of exploring the area on two feet then two wheels, we finish our ride in the village. You can refresh before we transfer you back to your Chiang Mai accommodation.

$68.44 Day Trips & Excursions

Golden Triangle Tour from Chiang Rai with Mekong River Cruise

Journey back in time to Thailand’s Golden Triangle with this full-day journey down the Mekong River. The day begins with a transfer from your Chiang Rai hotel to the edge of the Mekong River. Prepare to see delights including jungle terrain, hill tribes and ancient temples. Board your boat on the giant Mekong River of the three countries that make up the Triangle - Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. Make a first stop at Chiang Saen, a small town at the convergence of the three countries also known for its numerous ancient temples and ruins. Spend some time exploring the town’s many sites, before paying a visit to a local Hmong Hilltribe Village. Venture down Mekong, sit back and enjoy spectacular views along the Laos countryside from the river. Wrap up your journey at Chiang Khong, a sleepy town famous for the giant Mekong catfish and a popular border crossing between Thailand and Laos before transfer back to Chiang Rai in the late afternoon.

$90.21 Private & Custom Tours

Chiang Rai Private Tour: Oup Kham Museum, White Temple & More

After your private guide picks you up from your hotel, you’ll head to the Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park. Enjoy strolling through beautifully landscaped botanical gardens as your knowledgable guide shares the history of Chiang Rai and the Lanna (northern Thai) kingdom. Marvel at Haw Kham (Golden Pavillion), a striking teak building which showcases ceremonial temple artifacts as well as the Phra Pra Toh wooden buddha. After the manicured beauty at Mae Fah Luang, get a taste of daily life with a visit to the central market. Have fun wandering through stalls piled with a colorful array of fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, prepared foods, spices and more. Your guide answers any questions you may have as you explore the bustling marketplace. When you have worked up an appetite, take a break for lunch at a northern Thai restaurant. Your guide can explain the menu and suggest classic dishes to sample, such as khao sawy, a rich noodle soup topped by crispy noodles and condiments, or flavorful northern Thai sausages accompanied by sticky rice. After lunch, you’ll catch a samlor and visit a private museum called Oub Kham. The museum’s name comes from its masterpiece: the oub kham (golden bowl) used by royalty for important rituals. You'll also see an impressive collection of silverwork, textiles, clothing and other artifacts once used by northern Thai nobility, including rare pieces from Burma, China and Vietnam. To wrap up your day’s explorations, head to Wat Rong Khun, an unusual temple designed by Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. Marvel at the mix of traditional Buddhist elements with modern references to superheroes and space travel, among many examples of the amazing decor on the temple. The artist – sometimes called Thailand's Picasso – continues to work on the temple, which was started in 1997 and will be worked on for decades to come.

Northern Thailand in detail