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Mae hong son loop


Many of our clients ask us how to organise their time in Chiang Mai, many want to combine sightseeing in the city with exploring the rural parts of northern Thailand, if you’re trying to plan a trip to Chiang Mai, here’s a sample Chiang Mai 7 day itinerary. It starts with  a couple of days enjoying the tourist highlights in and around Chiang Mai, followed by 5 days journeying through beautiful Mae Hong Son – one of the most authentic and least touristic parts of Thailand

7 Days Chiang Mai Itinerary

Days 1 -2 ) Chiang Mai city

Spend the first couple of days acclimatizing and enjoying the sights in and around Chiang Mai city. Here are the most common tourist activities in Chiang Mai

Popular Tourist Activities

    • Elephant camps
    • Cooking school
    • Tiger Kingdom
    • Temples in the old city
    • Doi Suthep temple (religious landmark of Chiang Mai)
    • Handicraft centres at Borsang (watch and learn how locals make handicrafts such as silk, lacquer, paper umbrellas and more)

If you’re not interested in the tourist scene, to be honest, it is hard to find 100% non-tourist activities in Chiang Mai, but here are some suggestions for less touristic activities

Less Touristy activities

  • Hilltribe villages – Get out of the city to explore the lush countryside and rolling hills, where Thailand’s ethnic minorities, known as hill tribes live. There are seven major hill tribe groups which are an important part of northern Thailand’s culture. A few villages have been set up for the purposes of tourism, but there are plenty of beautiful and authentic villages if know where to go.  Our 1 Day Hilltribe tour, combines the best of both, travelling with a local hill tribe guide, to non-tourist areas, where you can visit the hill tribes in a respectful and authentic way.
  • Monk chat –  As the name suggests, you get to chat to a monk, ask him questions about Buddhims and life as a monk. Held at various locations around the city (Wat Suan Dok: Mon,Wed,Fri 5-7pm) (Wat Umong: Mon, Wed, Fri 5.30-7.30pm) (Wat Chedi Luang: daily 9am-6pm)
  • Doi Suthep Temple at dusk – Most tour groups visit during the day, we like to visit at dusk after the crowds have gone. It’s so much more serene, you might even catch the hum of the evening chants by the monks, making it really feel like a religious place of worships, not just another Chiang Mai tourist attraction
  • Bua Thong waterfall- Otherwise known as ‘Sticky waterfall’ around an hours drive north of Chiang Mai city, is a beautiful staircase of limestone, with water cascading down it, but the amazing natural phenomenon here, is that you can climb it without slipping, hence the name ‘sticky’. Not many tourists venture here, mainly popular with expats and locals as a half-full day trip out of the city.
  • Grand Canyon
  • Wat prathat Doi Kham (Doi Kham temple)
  • Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens
  • Ratchapreuk Gardens

More details on each of the above will be coming soon ! on another blog post

TIP ) You might want to plan your stay in Chiang Mai to fall over the weekend, to catch the Saturday and Sunday markets. Both start in the late afternoon, and are open until late at night. They are not to be confused with the Night Bazaar which is more commercial affair, mainly selling stuff from China, and is open every night until late on Chang Klan road

Mae hong son loop

Mae hong son loop

Days 3 -7 ) Mae Hong Son Loop

You will need at least 5 days if you plan to do the Mae Hong Son Loop by road, for it not to feel rushed. Some people attempt to do it in 3-4 days, but in our opinion, this would only let you drive and not see anything on the way. Here is an outline itinerary for the loop (assuming an anti-clockwise direction, you could also do it in the reverse direction, there is no difference).

Day 3) Chiang Mai – Pai

The mountains scenery begins, along this windy road. There are lots of quaint coffee stops along the way, to stop and enjoy the views. Pai is famous for its hot springs, and hippy reggae scene. There’s an active nightlife and music scene, with plenty of bars and restaurants. Enjoy the night market in Pai which is open every night.

Day 4) Pai to Mae Hong Son

The views are amazing throughout this leg of the journey. You will pass Soppong, a popular stop is Lod cave/coffin cave, where you can take a bamboo raft to admire the limestone formations inside . Along the way there are a couple of popular viewpoints, which are a good place to stop for a coffee break and photo opportunity

Day 5) Mae Hong Son

This quaint little town, doesn’t get more authentic than this in northern Thailand. Spend a couple of days here, just soaking up the atmosphere and slow pace of the locals, or make a side trip to Mae Aw (Chinese village ) and Ban Ruam Thai, both by the border of Myanmar.

Day 6) Mae Hong Son – Mae Sariang

From Mae Hong Son to Mae Sariang, there are farms and hilltribe villages scattered throughout. If you want to explore some authentic hilltribe villages or go trekking, this would be the area to do so.

DAY 7) Mae Sariang – Doi Inthanon – Chiang Mai 

On the final leg of the journey, the windy mountain roads continue, and about 3/4 of the way back to Chiang Mai, you could make a side route up to Doi Inthanon mountain, the highest point in Thailand. This is a national park (entrance fee 350bt/adult), there are some nice waterfalls on the way such as Wachiratharn waterfall.

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