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For most first-timers, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai can be done within 3 days. However, this week-long getaway differs your journey as it offers more experiences and better understanding. It can be either a starter or the last leg of any regular Thailand itinerary. Also, this is just a sample itinerary and you may change anything based on your own interests and time frame.
Upon your arrival at Bangkok airport, you will proceed with the onward flight to Chiang Rai in the afternoon.
After one hour of flying, you will reach Chiang Rai, where a local private tour guide awaits. Transfer to your hotel by a private car. Check in and free at leisure.
- We will book an afternoon flight at around 0400pm after your international arrival. However, if you arrive the day before or later than 0400pm, an extra night in Bangkok is needed.
- For this 7-day northern Thailand private tour, you will be guided by local guides from Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai who know better about the land. However, we can assign you with an escort guide from Bangkok upon your request.
Rise up to Chiang Rai's first ray, you will kick start today with a good coffee. Later, you will be taken to Mae Sai, a border town on the edge of Myanmar. Mae Sai is 60km at the north of Chiang Rai, the one-hour drive passes by Chiang Rai's outskirt fringed with humble villages and extensions of rice paddies. You will board a long-tail boat heading to the border.
Once arrive at Thai-Myanmar border, you will firstly go to the Thai immigration and your passport will be held there temporarily as a procedure manner. Crossing border to Myanmar, you will reach Tachileik where you will get a stamped on your copy of the original passport (this will be the receipt of your entry to Myanmar as well as getting back your passport when return).
Things in Tachileik seem similar with Chiang Rai yet people are dressed up differently and the market sights give out a typical border trade town vibe. Here you will find a wide selection of cheap knock-off bags and shoes, cigarettes and trinkets, as well aqs electronics at an unbelievably low price. Getting around in Tachilek Market is a fun experience itself. Hop on a motorbike to roam around the town, with views of Burmese-style pagodas and stupas.
Enjoy a good meal at Dinosaur Bistro, the finest restaurant in town offering creative international dishes with Thai and Burmese touches.
Get back to the Thai border in the afternoon and retrive your passport. Carry on to the famous Golden Triangle. But before that, you will stop by the Hall of Opium Museum, showcasing how the opium is made, used and distributed and how this evil trade ruined thousands of families living around this area.
Watch the sun slowly setting down the river surface at the Golden Triangle, where Thai-Myanmar and Thai-Laos meet.
You will be back in Chiang Rai town by the evening.
Due to limited dining choice, we will arrange today's lunch at an international restaurant (also with some Thai and Burmese options). Please inform us if you have special interest in authentic all-Burmese cuisine or other dietary requirements.
Yesterday's visit at the Hall of Opium Museum gave you an intro of the dark history around Chiang Rai and today you will take a glance at its present.
We will drive northward to Thoet Thai Village in Mae Fa Luang District, about 80km from Chiang Rai. The village is widely-known as the former base of narco-warlord Khun Sa, also known as the Opium King. Its former name was Ban Hin Taek, literally meaning "The Village of Broken Stone", suggests its isolation as almost no roads leading to the outside world and it was made easily a virtual kingdom by Khun Sa on his notorious trading.
Here you will visit Khun Sa Museum, where you will be guided through Khun Sa's hateful life and the VIP Chamber houses a creepy life-size model of Khun Sa. Nevertheless, it is still comforting enough to learn that the village has recovered from the dark past and now it is a thriving agricultural base for tomatoes, maize, onions, garlic, potatoes and tea.
Theta Thai is also one of the earliest settlement for the Ahka people, who are known for wearing much silver and live on houses built of wattle and mud.
Have some simple lunch and we will head down to Mae Salong. This region is situated on a higher altitude and ideal for coffee and tea cultivation. We will stop for a nice cup of coffee at Doi Mae Salong Coffee before we head to a tea factory. The factory provides livelihood for the local villagers as you can watch them busy with tea picking on the tea planations that lace up the mountains.
You will be back to Chiang Rai by evening.
You may have a late start this morning. We will drive down to Chiang Mai at around 1000am.
On the way, you will stop to visit the framed White Temple (aka Wat Rong Khun). Transfer to Chiang Mai after the visit. Check in and free at leisure.
When to set off to Chiang Mai is totally your call. If you would like an early start, you may take in more natural landscape en route or arrive in Chiang Mai just in time for a foodie hunt at the night market. Let us know when you are ready to go.
Wake up early in the morning and you will take part in a very important ritual: Alms-giving. Every morning, monks from every temple of Chiang Mai will walk over the town to collect food. The locals believe such a good deed will be helpful for one's karma.
Later, return to hotel and enjoy your breakfast. We will start the day again at around 1000am.
The Old Town of Chiang Mai is constructed based on the grand temple complex that consists of Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Lok Molee and Wat Phra Singh, all in graceful Lanna-style. Today you will have a taste of this spokemen of Chiang Mai-style temples.
Stay away from the mid-day sun, you will enjoy a 60-minute Thai traditional massage after lunch (Cost included, service at Fah Lanna Spa, Zira Spa or similar).
Later in the afternoon, we will venture out of Chiang Mai and reach the 700-year-old temple Wat Umong. This temple is known more widely as the tunnel temple. The tunnels were constructed by the Lanna King Mongrel, the founder of Chiang Mai, all dedicating to monks for a peaceful meditation chamber. Here you are free to join a conversation with a monk under the tree shades. Your tour guide will be your interprtor and you are free to ask any questions you like.
Drive back to Chiang Mai by the evening.
- Chat with monk at Wat Umong is only available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 0530pm to 0730pm. For other times, we will choose other venues for you. Normally we will invite the monk around the same age as yours, however, some travelers might be more interested in learning about the younger novices or part-time monks. Please let us know and we will see what we can do for you.
- A one-hour traditional Thai massage is included and it is possible to be changed to a spa treatment upon your request.
Baanchang Elephant Park is dedicated to providing elephants with the highest quality-of-life possible. We are a managed by private owner in all ways. All funds are from visitors : meaning we are funded exclusively by visitors and every cent we receive goes towards making our elephants lives as pleasant as possible and, of course, retiring and rescue new elephants.
The Park invites you to hands-on experience on participating, sharing responsibilities and taking care of an elephant.
In the morning, you will have a private transfer arranged by Asia Highlights to the park. Once inside, you will be guided by the park staff and your private tour guide and transfer will wait outside.
Here you will learn about the habbits about the elephants, as well as how to feed, bathe and even communicate with them.
You will meet your private tour guide and transfer at noon after the session. Transfer back to downtown Chiang Mai and have lunch on your own.
The elephant sanctuary visit is often arranged in the morning from 0700am to 1100am so as you don't get worn out in the afternoon heat (especially during June to August). However, if you want to stay in late in the morning, an afternoon session is always available.
Your week-long adventure in northern Thailand has come to an end. After some free time at leisure, you will be taken to the airport for your onward flight back home or the next destination.
Both Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai boost for a wide selection of great hotels. With location being our first factor to consider, Asia Highlights' handpicked hotels in these destinations feature with traditional Lanna styles and ideal balance of senerity and access to actions. Room type in bold letters are what we choose especially for you.