Thai jungle and temples

From 1050€/person 10 days

Another Thailand

Thailand is the expected destination for a beach trip, but you'll get to discover its people, nature and soul even more if you reach the north of the country. Around the cities of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, another Thailand will reveal its mystic beauty. In laid-back Chiang Mai, you'll be astonished by the town's majestic temples; in the countryside, you'll discover villages' local life and stumble upon archaeological remains in the jungle. Explore this other Thailand on a trip to Chiang Mai and beyond!

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Wild life and elephants

In northern Thailand, it seems that a trip wouldn't be complete without a visit to the local elephants. One must be careful with the place chosen for this visit: some organizations just hopped on this tourism windfall without thinking of the consequences on the animals, or caring about their wellbeing. Visiting the elephants, yes, but never without some previous research about how to do it: one way of being a responsible traveler.

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Itinerary

Start your trip in Chiang Mai to discover this town in the middle of the jungle, and the archaeological site of the old Lanna kingdom. Then you'll visit small H'mong villages in the mountains, on the border with Laos and alongside the Mekong river on the Golden Triangle site, before reaching Chiang Rai. Explore its surroundings, tea plantations, temples and hot springs. You'll end your trip with a day with the elephants in the jungle.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Chiang Mai (D)

Today you’ll fly to Chiang Mai. Upon arrival you will meet your driver and guide, who will take you to your hotel downtown. Rest of the day at leisure. If you have time, wander through the historical neighborhood, between temples and old houses.

Day 2: Chiang Mai (B, L, D)

Today you will discover Wiang Kum Kam archaeological site close to the city: this antique place dates back to the 13th century, and was maybe the capital of Lanna kingdom before Chiang Mai. You’ll roam around the temples on a horse cart, and explore the craftsmen area to witness silk work, lacquer, silver, umbrellas and more.

Day 3: Chiang Mai – Chiang Rai (B, L, D)

Today you will drive to Chiang Rai (3.5hrs). On the way, you’ll stop at a few picturesque sites along the road, and stop for a traditional lunch. Before your arrival in Chiang Rai, discover Wat Rong Khun also known as the White Temple, a surprising architectural complex, an art work in the style of a Buddhist temple.

Day 4: Chiang Rai (B, L, D)

After breakfast you will visit Chiang Rai and its surroundings: start with the Hill Tribes Museum and Education Centre, where you’ll familiarize yourself with some local tribes traditions and culture. Pay a visit to King Mengrai the Great Monument, founder of the Lanna kingdom. Discover the Naval City Pillar, representing heaven’s cosmogony, and a few temples: Wat Klang Wieng, with a striking architecture at the heart of the city, Wat Phra Kaew, where the Emerald Buddha was originally located before moving to Bangkok, Wat Phra Singh and its elaborately sculpted front gate.

Day 5: Chiang Rai – Wiang Chai – Chiang Khong (B, L, D)

Today you will drive to Chiang Khong (2.5hrs). On the way, observe the flowery road, rice fields alleys and typical Thai villages. You’ll stop at Thoeng for lunch and explore the market, then go on on the mountain road that runs alongside the border with Laos, a historic site for opium culture. You’ll visit a H’mong village, still ignored by tourism. You’ll cross some more rustic Thai villages and reach the Mekong river, before arriving to Chiang Khong.

Day 6: Chiang Khong – Chiang Rai (B, L, D)

This morning, get up early to observe the local life: monks stopping at every house, the local market, sunrise on the Mekhong river. You’ll go back to the hotel for breakfast, then you’ll hit the road that runs alongside the Mekhong river for numerous points of view. Climb to Wat Prathat Pha Ngao for another. After lunch in Chiang Sen, enjoy a 50mn-cruise on the Mekhong river, to observe life in Laos and the Golden Triangle site. Then you’ll reach Chiang Rai for the night.  

Day 7: Chiang Rai – Santikhiri (B, L, D)

This morning, you’ll first visit Wat Pla Kang, a surprising Chinese pagoda outside the city, surrounded by mountains. Then you will drive to Santikhiri (2hrs), a small Chinese town in Thailand, close to the border with Myanmar. Its history is very special as most families were KMT soldiers who took refuge across the border after the communists accessed power in China. Visit the town and market, and taste some local tea. You’ll also discover the traditional Akkha and Chinese villages around on Doi Mae Salong mountain and their beautiful points of view.

Day 8: Santikhiri – Chiang Rai (B, L)

Start your day with Wat Thaton pagoda that will give you a panoramic view on Myanmar. Then you’ll reach the Kok river, and embark on a pirogue to Ruamit, a Karen village. After lunch, enjoy a walk to the beautiful Huai Kaew waterfalls where you can relax and bathe if you like. You’ll visit a nearby tea plantation, and discover some local hot springs. Finally you’ll drive back to Chiang Rai through Akkha and Yao villages.

Day 9: Chiang Rai (B, L, D)

This morning you’ll get on a Jeep to reach an elephant camp deep in the jungle. Enjoy this chance to meet the elephants, go on a walk with them, play and bathe in the Kok river. You’ll have lunch in the jungle, served on banana leaves with tea made in bamboo. Finally, you’ll plant trees with the Karen mahouts (elephant keepers). Back to Chiang Rai, enjoy some relaxing time before your departure.

Day 10: Chiang Rai – Chiang Mai Departure (B)

Today, your driver will take you to Chiang Mai airport where you’ll board a flight to your next destination.

Information

Inclusions:
  • Hotel with breakfast (B)
  • Lunch (L) and dinner (D) when mentioned
  • Private driver
  • English speaking guide
  • Entrance fees and mentioned activities
Exclusions:
  • Visa
  • International & domestic flights
  • Other meals
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips to guide and driver
  • Insurances
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