North Thailand Family Tour
Take the family off the beaten track into Thailand's spectacular northern mountains
The Hills of Mae Salong
A fascinating and varied 2-week North Thailand family tour. The delights of Thailand’s beaches and islands are world renowned but these mist-shrouded mountains, lush forests and remote villages of the far North are still waiting to be discovered.
Beginning with an unusual public transport tour of Bangkok’s famous sites and its lesser-seen back streets, we’ll head north via the ruined, ancient capital and now UNESCO World Heritage Site, of Sukhothai to Chiang Mai, Thailand’s northern capital. From here we’ll continue into the forests, valleys and hills of Chiang Rai and Mae Salong – the infamous former Golden Triangle Region – for an exciting journey by foot, road and river, including overnight stays as guests in hill-tribe villages.
For those with a few more days to spare get the most out of your airfare with one of our various beach and island stay extensions – suitable for any time of the year, and available on request.
Here's an idea of what you can expect to do and see day-to-day.
Day 1 - Bangkok - arrival and time to explore the area
Arrival in Bangkok and check in to a comfortable, downtown hotel in the City’s Banglamphu district. Afternoon to relax, recover from your jet-lag by the pool or explore the area’s lively markets and street-life before a welcome local-style Thai dinner.
Extra nights in Bangkok prior to your tour are available on request.
Overnight: Bangkok Transport: Walk, Meals: D,
Day 2 - Bangkok - city tour with a difference
City tour with a difference – central Bangkok by riverboat, skytrain, tuk-tuk and canal boat. We’ll see the famous sites and what lies behind the famous sites! Visits will include the Grand Palace, fabulous Wat Phra Keow (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), Siam Square and the fascinating Jim Thompson House Museum.
Overnight: Bangkok Transport: Train, Boat, Walk, Tuk Tuk, Meals: B,
Day 3 - Bangkok to Sukhothai - up-country by train
Morning departure by train across the Central Plains and their emerald green rice paddies, to up-country Phitsanulok town – the Gateway to the North. Lunchtime arrival and a visit to the local handicraft museum. Transfer to nearby Sukhothai town with the afternoon to relax in our guesthouse garden or discover the local markets.
Overnight: Sukhothai Transport: Minibus, Train, Meals: B,
Day 4 - Sukhothai - World Heritage ancient city
Bicycle tour of the nearby, ancient city and now UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sukhothai – former capital of Siam – which, with it’s crumbling sandstone temples, ancient carvings, towering Buddha statues and lotus-covered ponds, is one of the country’s most sacred and evocative sites.
Overnight: Sukhothai Transport: Bike, Walk, Meals: B,
Day 5 - Sukhothai to Chiang Mai - heading north
Scenic drive through the mountains to Chiang Mai with stops at Lampang’s famous Elephant Hospital and a country market. Check in to our centrally located hotel with time to relax by the pool or explore the area before an evening tour of the town’s famous night bazaar.
Overnight: Chiang Mai Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B,
Day 6 - Chiang Mai - walking tour of the ancient city
A morning walking tour of the lanes, ancient temples and markets of Chiang Mai’s old town with the afternoon at leisure to perhaps check out some local handicrafts, try out one of the famous traditional massages or just relax by the pool?
Overnight: Chiang Mai Transport: Walk, Meals: B,
Day 7 - Chiang Mai to Tha Ton - across the mountains
Departure from Chiang Mai for the far North with a scenic drive to the remote border town of Tha Ton, including a stop on the way to visit the fascinating cave temples at Chiang Dao, before checking out the spectacular views at Tha Ton Pagoda situated high on a mountaintop straddling the Thai/Burmese border.
Overnight: Tha Ton Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B,
Day 8 - Kok River - boat and hike through the hills
Beginning with a descent by boat of the scenic Kok River, we’ll trek through the region’s dramatic mountain scenery with an overnight stay as guests of the village school teacher in a Lahu settlement.
Overnight: Yafu (Lahu Village) Transport: Boat, Walk, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 9 - Middle of nowhere - hike to an Akha village
Our hike continues across streams and through the forests of this spectacular and remote mountainous region. Overnight stay as guests of a Akha minority family in a rarely visited, and still very traditional, village.
Overnight: Akha Village Transport: Walk, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 10 - Mae Salong - tea and hill-tribes
Morning transfer to the nearby town of Mae Salong. Originally founded by Chinese Republican soldiers (Kuomintang), who took refuge in the area after defeat by communist forces. The town was off limits for many years due to its role as a centre for the opium trade but is now known for tea plantations and spectacular scenery as well as being the centre for the local hill-tribe peoples. Time to wander around the picturesque mountain-top town and perhaps participate in a tea tasting ceremony?
Overnight: Mae Salong Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B,
Day 11 - Golden Triangle - morning market and botanical gardens
Opportunity for an early start to visit the morning hill-tribe market before continuing to the magnificent botanical gardens at Mae Fah Luang. From here we’ll travel north to the bustling Burmese border market at Mae Sai. Visit Sob Ruak and the Golden Triangle itself, where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Burma meet, and where we can take in the unusual Opium Museum, before continuing to Chiang Rai for our overnight accommodation.
Overnight: Chiang Rai Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B,
Day 12 - Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai - return through the mountains
Morning scenic drive through the mountains to Chiang Mai with a stop on the way to visit the spectacular Wat Rong Khun Temple. Mid afternoon arrival with time to stretch your legs and perhaps take in one of the town’s street markets.
Overnight: Chiang Mai Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, D,
Day 13 - Chiang Mai - morning at leisure and end of tour
Morning at leisure in Chiang Mai, (for those with time to spare, check out the local markets, visit the famous Doi Suthep, or a Thai cookery lesson can be arranged) and end of tour.
Extra nights in Chiang Mai after your tour are available on request.
Airport transfers are included if you purchase the 'with flights' package. If you purchased your own flights, airport transfers can be arranged.
The nitty-gritty, the things you need to know, the answers to your burning questions.
Just a few of the many highlights
Discover Bangkok by tuk-tuk, 'Skytrain and canal boat before heading north, by way of a cycling tour of the World Heritage ancient city of Sukhothai, to the picturesque mountains of the former 'Golden Triangle'
- Discover Bangkok - famous sites, temples, markets, museums as well as the hidden parts that few visitors ever see
- Discover the ancient temples, bustling markets and quiet lanes of Thailand's charming northern capital and historic town Chiang Mai
- Day tour of the infamous Golden Triangle region: border markets, scenic landscapes, ancient cities and of course the famous opium museum
- Explore the picturesque ancient capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sukhothai by bicycle
- Mountain trekking; hike through the mountains, valleys, villages and farmland of Chiang Rai's picturesque landscapes
- And of course the opportunity to sample the world famous Thai cuisine - in the places the locals eat at - and meet the friendly residents
Air Departures (UK)
Guaranteed Places Left Special Price Solo Traveller Closed
*Air departures are from the UK. Land departures start from Bangkok
*Land departure dates correspond to the FIRST day of the itinerary.
We choose our hotels based on a combination of location, comfort and convenience. Here is a *selection of the types of hotel/rooms you can expect to stay at on this tour...
Nanda Heritage Hotel, Bangkok view
- Based around a beautifully restored 1920s teak family villa
- The award winning design combines traditional and modern
- Great central location for restaurants, cafes and shopping
20 Lodge, Chiang Mai view
- Delightful lush garden setting & pool
- Quiet location in the Old City
- Small, friendly and a welcoming family style
Foresto Sukhothai view
- Delightful, tropical garden setting with pool
- Central yet quiet location in Sukhothai Town
- Boutique style with a fusion of modern & traditional Lanna
Yafu village home-stay, Chiang Rai
- Home-stay in Yafu - a village of the Red Lahu ethnic group
- Spectacularly sited on a mountain top with awesome views
- Our overnight spot on a 2 day trek
Ban Hom Muen Lee Resort, Mae Salong view
- Chinese-style decor in the old Kuomintang base of Mae Salong
- All rooms with private balconies and stupendous views
- Mountain-top location in this quaint and quirky town
Laluna Resort, Chiang Rai view
- Comfortable individual chalets in a stunning tropical garden
- 5 minute tuk-tuk ride from the town's lively night bazaar
- Pool, spa, massage and excellent in-house restaurant
*This list should be considered a guide only, hotels/rooms may change (without notice) depending on availability.
Visa Info & Notes
This information is for anyone embarking on this tour and does not pertain to long-stay visitors or expats.
Most nationalities simply receive a 30-day visa waiver stamp on arrival at Bangkok airport. Your passport must be valid for a full 6 months, in good condition with no pages torn or missing, and while we can’t find any specific information regarding number of blank pages, as usual in South East Asia, you’re better off with at least 2 available.
Importantly you may be asked for proof of onward travel and proof you have sufficient funds for your stay.
More details, including a list of all nationalities eligible for the visa waiver, can be found on our blog A Round-Up of Thai Entry and Visa Requirements for Visitors
Further info: more details and photos of our Hills of Mae Salong tour
Holidays should never end, stay a little longer. These extensions go well with this tour...
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