Northern Thailand tour

An exciting and varied tour by road, rail and river through some of the most picturesque, yet remote and rarely visited parts of far northern Thailand
Bangkok – Local Markets and Streetlife Chinatown Walk World Heritage Sukhothai Local Train Ride Lampang Elephant Hospital Phayao Phu Chee Fah Chiang Saen Ancient City Mae Salong Golden Triangle Chiang Rai Kok River Boat Cruise Hill-tribe Villages
Price
£1640To£1710excluding flights
Duration
14 Days
Type
Small group
Group size
Maximum 12
More info
Includes all transport, activities, entrance fees, accomm.
(3-4*) & most meals as per itinerary.
(Visas & local tips not included.) Return flights from the UK from £700 & optional single room supplement £320 (Fully licensed, ATOL protected.)
Make enquiry

Description of Northern Thailand tour

Our 2-week Hidden Thailand tour takes you by road, rail and river from the vibrant, ever-fascinating capital Bangkok through some of the least-known, yet most spectacular, landscapes of the kingdom.

Along the way we’ll discover the back streets, local markets and street-life of Bangkok, as well as its famous sites and explore the atmospheric ancient temples and lotus ponds of World Heritage Sukhothai. From here we continue north to historic Lampang, the centre for the 19th-century teak trade and home to an impressive stock of period architecture, and picturesque Phayao Town with its lakeside setting and waterfront cafes.

Onwards and upwards we reach the dramatic Phu Chee Fah Range overlooking the Mekong and forests of northwest Laos and head into Chiang Rai Province and the Golden Triangle itself. In recent times notorious for opium caravans and drug warlords today these rugged hills are famous for their bucolic scenery, tea and fruit plantations and colourful hill-tribe minorities.

This fascinating and varied tour includes a unique, behind the scenes look at Bangkok; sunrise over the Mekong from the ‘Gates of Siam’ and sunset amid the crumbling splendour of the ancient capital of Sukhothai. We’ll also take in Lampang’s famous Elephant Hospital, walk around the 13th-century ramparts of old Chiang Saen and travel by boat down the Kok River from mountain-top Mae Salong – founded by fleeing remnants of the Kuomintang’s ‘lost army’ after defeat by Mao in the Chinese civil war – to Chiang Rai Town and on to our final destination, charming Chiang Mai.

Ancient history, more recent history, everyday life and culture and of course the opportunity to meet plenty of the particularly friendly residents and sample the world-renowned food. Combined with some truly awe-inspiring scenery Hidden Thailand makes for a wonderful tour of the country’s famous sites plus many of its lesser-known secrets.

Features:

1. A unique tour of Bangkok's famous sites and everyday life by public transport
2. Sunset at World Heritage ancient Sukhothai with its atmospheric lotus pools and ruined temples
3. The picturesque, historic and charming Mekong towns of Chiang Khong and Chiang Saen
4. Visit the remote and awe-inspiring Phu Chee Fah mountains for dawn at the 'Gates of Siam'
5. Scenic boat trip through the forests and mountains of the picturesque Kok River
6. Local markets, street and village life, lashings of great food, including regional specialities

Optional extensions

1. Add on a 4-day mini-tour to Kanchanaburi and stay on floating raft houses on the River Kwai
2. Fly from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang to explore this World Heritage Town
3. Head to Koh Chang or Koh Mak for some quality post tour island time
4. Cross the Burmese border to discover the myriad hill-tribes and mountain scenery of remote and rarely visited Shan State

Note groups sizes are 2 to maximum 12 persons with most meals (local-style) included and accommodation in 3 to 4* hotels.

Price information

£1640To£1710excluding flights
Includes all transport, activities, entrance fees, accomm.
(3-4*) & most meals as per itinerary.
(Visas & local tips not included.) Return flights from the UK from £700 & optional single room supplement £320 (Fully licensed, ATOL protected.)
Make enquiry

Check dates, prices & availability

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Responsible Travel

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) holiday so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.

Planet

Our Hidden Thailand tour is a small group, low impact guided tour of off the beaten track regions of northern Thailand. We limit the number of participants to a maximum of 12 persons accompanied by a licensed Thai tour-leader well-versed in sustainable tourism practices along with, where applicable, local guides sourced at the destinations.

We believe such small-sized groups create less impact both on the environment and on the local communities visited during the tour as well as giving a higher staff-guest ratio which facilitates the imparting of relevant information. This includes environmental guidelines as well as cultural dos and don’ts while creating the potential for more genuine interaction with said communities and residents encountered along the way.

In emphasizing the lesser-known destinations as well as the famous ones the tour helps to spread the financial benefits of tourism to areas that don’t usually receive tourist groups, thus stimulating employment in such areas as well as relieving pressure on the more popular sites.

Limited numbers also permit us to dispense with hired (bus) transport as much as possible and so we employ public transport – local buses and taxis – for shorter journeys while the longest transfer involved – Bangkok to Sukhothai –is done by train. Our Bangkok day tour is conducted using entirely public transport.

Entrance fees to historical sites – including ones not normally on standard tourist itineraries – contribute towards site management and protection as well as staff salaries. These include Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai, Wat Chalerm Phrakiet (Lampang), Chiang Saen Historical Park and Mae Fah Luang Botanical Gardens.

We also include visits to national parks and protected areas such as Phu Chee Fah Forest Park, Phayao Lake and Phu Sang and Lam Nam Kok national parks.
We’ve now introduced large drinking water containers on all transport so guests can refill personal flasks instead of single-use plastic bottles.

People

Small group sizes allow us to use correspondingly smaller accommodation options and we endeavour to select locally-owned, run and staffed family-style hotels employing genuine responsible tourism practices. It also allows us to use small cafes, street food and markets for meals and drinks breaks – off limits to larger groups – which is of direct benefit to local communities as well as providing a far more authentic eating experience and interaction for our guests.

All staff are fully-licensed Thai nationals and accommodation used is small scale and locally owned and staffed. Drivers and local guides are fully briefed on sustainable and responsible tourism practices.

Off the beaten track destinations on this itinerary include Lampang, Phayao, Phu Chee Fah, Chiang Saen and Mae Salong. In the latter we also include a visit to a community-based tourism scheme in a village of the Akha minority while in the former we visit and donate to the Lampang Elephant Hospital.

A specific project relating to this tour is our own support for a kindergarten and day-care scheme in a border village near Mae Salong. The project is entirely organised and managed by our All Points East Thailand office with donations from guests and involves providing financial and material assistance to a nursery school providing day care and basic education for nursery and pre-nursery age kids thus allowing both parents to take up full time employment. Materials include educational items as well as blankets, mattresses and mosquito nets etc. Children are from underprivileged minority – mainly Akha and Lisu - and Shan refugee families from Myanmar. The village is very remote so, although it isn’t practical to include on our itinerary, we organize a non-profit annual visit for anyone wishing to join. (More details and photos of this scheme can be found on our website.)

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