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Located in the north of the country, the ancient walled city of Chiang Mai has been an important Buddhist centre since the 14th century and is home to over three hundred temples. Surrounded by mountains it offers spectacular scenery with opportunities to meet the colourful hill tribe minorities that inhabit the area. The renowned Night Bazaar comes alive in the evenings, a great place to sample the distinctive northern Thai cuisine.
Further north still is Chiang Rai, nestled in the mountains and gateway to the infamous Golden Triangle border region of Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos. Situated in the old kingdom of Lanna, meaning land of a million rice fields, the area around Chiang Rai is home to many ethnic minority hill tribes including the Karen, Akha, Lahu and Yao. Cruise along the Mae Kok River, trek through the hills or travel by elephant to explore the beautiful surrounding countryside interspersed with traditional local villages.
Our “Simply” itineraries are perfect add-ons to your holiday. Discuss options with our Asia Travel Experts.
You meet your guide on arrival, transfer and check-in to your hotel. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Chiang Rai, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.
Chiang Rai, nestled in the mountains of northern Thailand is the gateway to the infamous Golden Triangle border region of Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos. Smaller and quieter than Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai retains the feel of a small provincial Thai capital with far fewer tourists than you may see in other provincial centres. Situated in the old kingdom of Lanna, meaning land of a million rice fields, the area around Chiang Rai is home to many ethnic minority hill tribes including the Karen (long neck), Akha, Lahu and Yao. The houses in the hill tribe villages sell handmade products, in particular textile weaving, since tourism has replaced agriculture as their main source of income.
With an abundance of restaurants and the interesting night markets, Chiang Rai has plenty to see and do. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.
Embark on a magnificent three hour boat ride on the Mae Kok River ending in a traditional Karen hill tribe village. Your journey takes you through stunning mountainous scenery surrounded by jungle interspersed with traditional hill tribe villages. The Karen people originated in Burma and moved to northern Thailand during the mid to late 1900’s. They are one of the largest hill tribes in South East Asia and traditionally live at lower elevations than other hill tribes. Although they still practice slash and burn farming they live in permanent villages. Karen cloth is hand woven on back strap looms and is predominantly red with white, blue or brown vertical stripes. The women's blouses are made of dark homespun cotton with horizontal embroidered patterns decorated with seeds woven onto the lower half.
Leaving the Karen hill tribe village continue your trip on the back of an elephant through the surrounding countryside before reboarding the boat for a short trip to some thermal hot springs. Afterwards visit a hill tribe village of the Lahu people. There are about 25,000 Lahu people in Thailand and their main source of income is farming. They are primarily subsistence farmers, growing rice and corn for their own consumption. Lahu are well known for their traditional black costumes woven with bold embroidered patterns and bands of cloth. Finish the trip with boat ride back to Chiang Rai before transferring to your hotel.
The remainder of the day is free in Chiang Rai to explore or relax.
Itinerary Option: If you prefer a little less adventure, consider visiting the botanical gardens up in the mountains surrounding Chiang Rai.
Today you travel from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai and visit the famous Golden Triangle where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos meet.
An early start takes you from Chiang Rai to the border town of Mae Sai and visiting Akha and Yao hill tribe villages along the way. Witness the lifestyles of these ethnic groups that make a living from the land in the same manner they've done for millennia. Mae Sai is the northernmost point of Thailand and the perfect spot to observe the trade between the tribes people and others that occurs on the border. Mae Sai is one of few official land crossings between Thailand and Burma and is therefore an important trade hub. Many Burmese come over daily from Thakhilek to work or do business before returning to Burma at dusk. Burmese lacquer ware, gems, jade and other goods from Laos and Burma are sold in shops along the main street.
Later you arrive at the top of a hill with magnificent views across the Golden Triangle, once the heart of the opium trade. At this point, the mighty Mekong River joins with the Ruak River and forms the "triangle" with Thailand, Laos and Myanmar (Burma).
After lunch at a local restaurant enjoy the drive through beautiful scenery before arriving at the Hot Springs of Mekajan where you can relax in the healing waters. Arrive in Chiang Mai in the late afternoon and check into your hotel for some free time.
Start today’s trip with a transfer to Wat Suan Dok, just outside the ancient city walls of Chiang Mai. The temple was built in the 14th century by King Keu Na of Lanna to accommodate important priests visiting from Sukhothai, as well as a place for local monks to shelter from the rain. There is a 48 metre (157 feet) high Sri Lankan style bell shaped chedi or pagoda and an open sided prayer hall. Continue to Wat Chedi Luang where the Emerald Buddha was once enshrined. This impressive temple was built between the 14th and 15th centuries and nowadays houses a replica of Thailand’s most important Buddha relic.
Wat Phra Singh, with its impressive prayer hall, is the next stop, perhaps the largest and most interesting of the temples in Chiang Mai. Built over 600 years ago, it was carefully restored in 2006 and now houses a very sacred 1,500 year old Buddha image. The prayer hall has an intricately carved front and there is a small library built on a high stone base with beautiful carvings. End the trip with a visit to Wat Phrathat on Doi Suthep Mountain, which was founded in 1383 AD, and which is probably Chiang Mai’s most well known temple. Built as a Buddhist monastery in 1383, it is still a working monastery today. Funds raised by donations support the monks and the maintenance of the temple buildings. The temple is crowned by an elaborate golden chedi and is reached by climbing the 309 steps of the Naga Serpent Staircase or by taking a cable car for a small surcharge. The climb to the top is rewarded with a superb panoramic view over the city. Return to the car park for the transfer back to Chiang Mai.
The remainder of the day is free in Chiang Mai to explore or relax.
Today the focus is on elephants, Thailand’s most loved animal. Travel north of Chiang Mai to the Elephant Nature Park, passing through the spectacular mountainous scenery that surrounds Chiang Mai. Arrive at the camp and watch the elephants taking their morning bath in a mountain stream, before seeing a demonstration which shows how elephants work in the jungle nearby and the kinds of tasks they undertake. Next it is time to enjoy a one hour elephant ride through the jungle that surrounds the camp, followed by lunch.
In the afternoon climb aboard the bamboo raft trip and float down the river taking in the tranquillity and beauty of the area. Set foot again on the mainland and transfer back to Chiang Mai.
Itinerary Option: Optionally upgrade to a visit to the Elephant Conservation project for the day where you spend time learning about the elephants, including bathing and feeding them.
On your last day enjoy free time until your departure transfer.
Phone now to discuss options to personalise your itinerary.
Ideas to upgrade or extend your itinerary:
All Get About Asia trips have been designed to make sure you have an unforgettable travel experience. We have developed several trip styles to cater for our diverse range of travellers. Read what your ideal Get About Asia experience might look like here.
|Standard:||from AU $1,559|
|Superior:||from AU $1,864|
|Deluxe:||from AU $2,358|
All GetAboutAsia prices are based on twin share and depend on availability and season. All our itineraries can be customised including international flights and extra nights. For questions or further information, Enquire Now!
Hotels each night of the itinerary (excluding your departure day). All GetAboutAsia accommodation is handpicked by us. Upgrades are available for this itinerary.
Availability of accommodation and season.
|Start:||Chiang Rai, Thailand|
|End:||Chiang Mai, Thailand|
|Physical:||Medium (light hiking)|
"The recent holiday with Thai Hill tribes and Laos Mekong cruise was very good. City accommodation was excellent, and accommodation in mountain lodges was basic. It all went well and various guides and drivers were up to the usual high standard. The Mekong river cruise was very special as there were only 10 other people on the boat, and they were all very nice people. The Captain did say he had never seen a group of strangers get on so well together. We did drink the Bar dry a couple of times !! We found Laos to be a fascinating country with delightful people. " — Mr and Mrs Clark, Bribie Island, September 2018
"Our guide, Jan, in Chiangmai to Chiangrai was the best and more than a one could wish for!!!! She was cheerful, passionate about her job, knowledgeable, generous with her time and efforts, and went over and beyond in everything she did for us! Thanks again for all your help. You were great and a joy work with Getaboutasia !!!! I will definitely call you for future trips! " — Bennett Family, California USA, January 2018