This seriously off the beaten track Thai tour, Hidden Thailand, takes you from Bangkok, via UNESCO World Heritage Sukhothai, through the picturesque mountains of Thailand’s far north before finishing in the historic northern capital of Chiang Mai.
We’ve still got available places on our guaranteed 12th August departure so here are a few pictures to wet your appetite…
Our Bangkok tour includes, of course, exploring the city’s famous sites but also taking you into the back streets and through the bustling local markets for some less often seen aspects of the vibrant and fascinating Thai capital. From here we head up-country by train to one of the kingdom’s former capitals and now UNESCO World Heritage site, Sukhothai.
Continuing north we’ll visit the historic, and rarely visited town of Lampang with its fine collection of period buildings and of course its famous Elephant Hospital.
Next stop, travelling via the spectacular mountain-top temple of Wat Chalerm Phrakiet, is another highly scenic destination – yet again one little known by foreign visitors – lakeside Phayao Town.
With a delightful promenade dotted with restaurants and cafes and affording views of the huge natural lake and distant mountains, charming Phayao certainly deserves to be far more on the tourist radar than it is at the moment.
From Phayao we head into the hills and the dramatic Phu Chee Fah Range bordering the Mekong River, overlooking Laos. These awe-inspiring mountains incorporate rolling hills to the west and a sheer escarpment to the east dropping vertically to the banks of the Mekong.
After a night in mountain-top chalets, we descend to the banks of the river and the very cute little Mekong port of Chiang Saen where riverside cold ones and sampling the local specialities while watching the Lao barges drift by is usually on the programme.
From here we’ll traverse the paddy-fields of the central valley of Chiang Rai Province to head back into the hills on the western side and the highly unusual, Yunnanese-style, ridge=top town of Mae Salong. Originally founded by fleeing Chinese Republican forces (Kuomintang) after defeat by Mao’s army the town was once an infamous centre for warlords, private armies and the opium trade though these days, while still posessing a very Chinese identitiy and remote feel, is popular for hiking and the centre for the Thai tea trade.
The small town is surrounded by tea plantations and hill-tribe villages, many of whose inhabitants you can meet in the local markets.
Departing Mae Salong we’ll travel to the regional capital, Chiang Rai City, by way of Tha Ton and a boat journey down the picturesque, forest-lined, Kok River.
After an evening tour of the lively night bazaar and an overnight stay in a well-appointed garden resort, it’s time to head back over the hills and a scenic drive to our final destination Chiang Mai.
A relaxed – kind of wind-down programme – for Chiang Mai includes a walking tour of the old town as well as opportunities to check-out the famous markets, maybe sign-up for a Thai cookery class or just relax by the hotel pool?
A wide variety of landscapes and sites then and we feel a perfect combination of the better-known destinations with some of the equally spectacular, but far less visited sights.
Next guaranteed departure for Hidden Thailand with available places is 12th August and you can find full details on the corresponding tour page of our website or contact us with any queries.