Buffalo grazing in rice fields in front of mountains in Northern Thailand

Trails of Northern Thailand

Trip code

If aching muscles, hearty meals and sleeping in the corner of a bamboo hut sound like your idea of a good time, this itinerary is for you.

Built around a hard, five-day trek through the remote and mountainous scenery of northern Thailand, with stays in Akha and Karen hilltribe communities along the way, this adventurous itinerary eschews Thailand’s traffic-choked cities in favor of its jungle-tangled hinterlands.


Price based on 3* accommodation
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Key facts

12 days / 11 nights
Contrast modern city life with hilltribe culture with a tour of Chiang Mai and a day with the Akha tribe
Get a glimpse of Thailand’s proud history with a tour of Chiang Rai’s temples and monuments
Challenge yourself physically on a five-day trek in the Mae Wang region, a day trek to the Akha village of Suan Pa, and a day of hiking, biking and kayaking in Sri Lanna National Park

Transport in detail

This trip includes three transfers by private car with an English-speaking guide, each one a couple of hours. For the rest of the time, you’ll be getting from place to place on foot!

What's great

This itinerary includes stunning areas of northern Thailand little visited by tourists

It’s a fantastic trip for anyone who loves the outdoors

You’ll get to spend time with the Karen and Akha ethnic minorities and learn about Thailand’s hilltribe cultures

It’s easily extended with some beach time if you’d like a few days in the sun

Things to consider

We’re sure we don’t need to say this, but you’ll need to be fit and love hiking to enjoy this trip

You’ll get to know a small section of northern Thailand, but you won’t tick off any major cities or landmark sites

You’ll need to be OK with staying at very basic rural accommodation during the trek

The experience

This trip focusses on trekking in a small area of northern Thailand. Not a hiker? We can design trips around any interest or hobby. Just ask.

Day 1-3

Chiang Mai

A far cry from the mile-a-minute energy of Bangkok, Chiang Mai is Thai city living at its chilled-out finest. A full-day tour will ensure you check off its top sights — but you’ll also explore areas little visited by tourists, traveling by boat, bike and rickety songtaew truck to quiet neighborhoods, local markets, riverside villages and suburban temple ruins. After you’ve got a sense of the city, head into Sri Lanna National Park and explore its seven-colored springs, fruit orchards, reservoirs and waterfalls, stopping for lunch at a rafthouse in between bikes, hikes and kayaks. Don’t wear yourself out too much: this just a warm-up for things to come!

Aerial view of Chiang Mai market


Explore Chiang Mai by songtaew pick-up truck, longtail boat, samlor trishaw, and tuk-tuk

Cycle among the ruins of Wiang Khum Kham, a lost city rediscovered beneath a Chiang Mai suburb in 1984

Climb the “sticky waterfalls” of Sri Lanna National Park, where limestone deposits prevent algae growing for naturally non-slip rocks

Kayak on the beautiful Mae Ngat Dam Reservoir

Sunset in Sri Lanna National Park

Day 4-8

Mae Wang District (Chiang Mai)

Welcome to the main event: a five-day trek through jungle-covered mountains. Swing by a buffalo market to stock up on food, then head into the wilderness — following streams, picnicking by waterfalls, spotting birds and wildlife, and passing small farms tended by local communities. Each night will be spent in a different hilltribe community, where you’ll get to meet people from the Akha and Karen minorities, learn about local cultures and customs, try home-cooked traditional food, and sleep surrounded by the sounds of the jungle. Don’t expect any luxuries beyond a cold shower and a hot meal — but after a hard day of trekking there’s not much more you need.

Northern Thailand countryside with trees and huts


Trek through the foothills of Doi Inthanon

Experience traditional hilltribe life as you stay with members of the Karen community

Discover waterfalls hidden deep in the forests of northern Thailand

Ladies wearing traditional dress

The finer detail

  • Breakfast every day
  • Ten lunches: one during the tour of Chiang Mai; one on a floating raft house in Sri Lanna National Park; five during the trek; one during the tour of Chiang Rai; one homemade lunch during the trip to Suan Pa village; one you’ll make yourself during the cookery class of Akha dishes
  • Four dinners: all hosted by the homestays during the trek
  • Four full-day experiences: explore Chiang Mai by public transport & bike; waterfalls and scenery of Sri Lanna National Park by foot, bicycle & kayak; day at the Akha village of Suan Pa; day at the Akha village of Hloyo with a cookery class
  • One half-day experience: Chiang Rai’s temples & monuments
  • 5-day guided trek in Mae Wang District with homestays
  • All entrance fees to sites included in guided experiences
  • All internal transport & accommodation

Day 1:

Car transfer from Chiang Mai airport to city (10 minutes)

Day 4:

Car transfer from Chiang Mai to Huay Teun (2 hours)

Medium grade trekking Huay Teun to Khun Na Sa (4-5 hours)

Day 5:

Hard grade trekking from Khun Na Sa to Khun Puay (7-8 hours)

Day 6:

Medium grade trekking from Khun Puay to Khun Wang (5-6 hours)

Day 7:

Hard grade trekking from Khun Wang to Ban Pa Mon (6-7 hours)

Day 8:

Medium grade trekking from Ban Pa Mon to Ban Mae Sapok (5-6 hours)

Car transfer from Ban Mae Sapok to Chiang Mai (2 hours)

Day 9:

Car transfer from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai (3 hours)

Day 12:

Car transfer from hotel to Chiang Rai airport (25 minutes)

  • International flights
  • Any meals not mentioned
  • Entrance fees to any sites not included in guided experiences
  • Tips for guides & porters