For backpackers who have demolished themselves down south on whiskey buckets and beach parties, or those looking for a bit of tranquility that can only be found in the mountains, it’s about time you headed north. If you’re a thrill seeker, an animal lover, or just plain lazy, get up to the mountains for a different view of Thailand. Chiang Mai, which is located in the north west of Thailand has something for everyone!
Introducing you to the beautiful Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand...
Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand is known for picturesque mountains, winding rivers, beautiful sunshine, incredible food and caring people. The North of Thailand can only be described with the old saying of ‘Same Same, but different’. At a glance, it may seem like many other parts of Thailand, but after spending a good few days there, you truly realise that it is a very different place entirely.
Chiang Mai city is set amongst the beautiful green mountains of the north and is home to around 250,000 people. Whereas, the province as a whole is said to have a population of around 1.6 million people. This is still with a large amount of people living in villages up in the mountains.
The hill tribes in the north are made up of 7 major tribes; Meo, Yao, Arka, Lisu, Lahu, Karen and Padong (Long Necks). Most of which are readily available to visit. This allows you to understand a bit more of the northern Thai culture. The Christian religion is very prevalent here unlike the rest of Thailand, where Buddhism is the major religion.
There are trips you can do around Chiang Mai and Northern Thaiand up to the hill tribes for trekking. The trips last about 2/3 days and run most days from the city. They give you the perfect chance to breathe some mountain air and see how much walking you can handle in the heat. Trust us when we say, it gets damn hot up in the mountains! On our Northern Thailand trip, we are actually lucky enough to stay with one of the hill tribes, so you can enjoy a real authentic experience and a taste for the culture.
The majority of the treks will stay with the ‘Karen’ people, though others will stop at ‘Long Neck’ villages. During your time in the village you’re welcome to walk around and talk with the local people, learn handicrafts or sit with a few of the villagers. You may even get to test your drinking ability and accept some ‘Lao Pa’ (jungle whiskey, probably better known as moonshine). While you’re putting your drinking abilities to the test, why not test your stomach at the same time!? Some northern specialties are also worth a mention, such as 'Lap Moo'. Lap is traditionally minced raw pork mixed with chillies and other spices. Eaten raw, this dish may scream ‘e-coli central’, but trust us, it is absolutely delicious and we do recommend it!
For those who are feeling a little lazy, there are plenty of activities which accommodate those looking to kick back and relax. Recently built amongst the hills, is the ‘Chiang Mai Tubing and Beach Club’. Along the river, a man-made beach has been constructed. Here you can float along at your own pace over 10km, down the river finishing at the beach club, the perfect day of relaxation for weary trekked out legs!
Other activities available in Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand range from bamboo rafting, zip-lining, kayaking, caving or just a relaxing walk around the many temples located around the city. But for those looking for something a bit more extreme, there’s also bungee jumping, downhill mountain biking, paint balling, and drift karting. The list goes on! Check out our Northern Thailand trip here to see what activities we get up to with the Tru Crew!
All of the activities in the north (much like the beer), are also well priced. For example, I haven’t seen many places in the world which offers bungee jumping for 20 pounds! In fact, on the whole, prices are generally cheaper in Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand with a beer averaging around 50 baht, the same for a good Thai dish, and accommodation on average will be about 4 pounds per night. So for those on a tight budget, Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand is a great place to wander around at a reasonably low cost and still see a large amount of the city.
Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand is also the place to be if you wish to meet elephants. On our Northern Thailand Adventure, we visit a sanctuary where you can help bathe them and get up close and personal with our favourite gentle giants. This is completely ethical the elephants here get the best care! This is an experience not to be missed!
For those with a bit more time in the land of smiles, we personally couldn’t recommend Chiang Mai more! Take a break from the crowded south, exchange your whiskey bucket for a bamboo shot of rice wine and take in some northern culture because you won’t regret it! Why not even encompass all of the above in our Northern Thailand tour whilst joining us in Thailand!?