5 Days in Northern Thailand

You’re planning your trip to Thailand and have decided you’re going to spend 5 days in the North. Fantastic. But how on earth are you now going to decide what to do in those 5 days, what are you going to focus on, what are you going to miss out (and come back in the future to see) and how much time are you going to spend travelling?

The stunning mountains of Northern Thailand

Here we’re going to give you three suggested 5 day itineraries to get the very best out of your time in Northern Thailand. And yes, you guessed it, all of them include The Tuk Tuk Club’s superb, award winning adventures, sorry!

Option 1 – Tuk Tuks, Elephants, Temples, Waterfalls, Hill Tribes and Trekking.

Well we did warn you that we’d be including over very own trips in this and, in our own very subjective view, The Tuk Tuk Club’s 5 Day Adventure is the single best 5 day itinerary for anyone looking to get a great sense of the magic of Northern Thailand, avoid any crowds AND enjoy a bit of adventure too!

Three Tuk Tuks on a dirt road through a forest
A Tuk Tuk Adventure – one of the best ways to explore the Norther

You can download the full, detailed itinerary here – and get your thirst for Northern Thailand in full flow – but below are the key highlights of the 5 days

Day 1:

  • Learn how to drive a Tuk Tuk (or choose the chauffeur driven option) with manual and automatic options available
  • Drive along tiny rural roads, past rice fields and through small farming communities to receive a blessing at a remote mountain Temple
  • Enjoy a superb rural Thai dinner at a local ‘country pub’
  • Stay overnight in a lovely, small rural resort
Making merit in a small rural Temple
Making merit in a remote mountain Temple

Day 2:

  • Drive through yet more tiny rural lanes and communities to a stunning viewpoint on a beautiful yet rarely visited Temple
  • Enjoy a fantastic elephant experience at a small, private elephant home. Learn about the elephants, help the mahouts feed them, walk with the elephants through the countryside and then watch them bathe in the local river
  • Float gently downstream on bamboo rafts
  • Tuck into another delicious Thai feast at a local family run restaurant in the evening
  • Enjoy another night in the same rural resort
Tuk Tuks and Elephants – part of an awesome day

Day 3:

  • Drive high up into the mountains along rarely travelled back roads. Think switchback bends, towering forest and stunning views
  • Explore small Karen Hill Tribe villages
  • Stop for coffee at atmospheric mountain coffee shops, serving up coffee grown from the surrounding hills
  • Head to the summit of Thailand’s highest mountain, Doi Inthanon, and explore the stunning chedi’s and nature trails around the summit
  • Fill up with a traditional Thai BBQ in the evening in a small Karen community overlooking rice fields
  • Stay overnight in a very friendly small Karen Hill Tribe village
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Views from near the top of Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest mountain

Day 4:

  • Trek through the forested foothills of Doi Inthanon along a spectacular nature trail. Enjoy stunning waterfalls, thick forest and then rice terraces as you arrive back into the village
  • Enjoy time at a traditional local coffee shop in the village
  • Yet more superb Thai delicacies to tuck into in the evening as you stay in the same Hill Tribe village
Karen Hill Tribe woman in a mountain village

Day 5:

  • Transfer back to Chiang Mai and either enjoy a night in the city (not included in the itinerary) or head off to other parts of Thailand for more adventures

This 5 Day Adventure runs year round on set start dates (usually 2 – 3 start dates a month) for a maximum of up to 12 travellers. However, if you fancy a little more privacy then you can set up a private trip for just you and your family / friends to fit in perfectly with you travel dates.

Prices start from £575 per person (£295 for ages 17 and under) including all activities, accommodation, food, entry fees etc etc

Option 2 – Temples, Trekking, Elephants and a stunning flight over the mountains

Day 1:

  • Head up to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep in the early morning to enjoy the sunrise (and avoid the crowds!) and take in the fantastic views over the city. Enjoy a warming coffee at one of the small coffee shops dotted around the base of the Temple.
  • Then head further up the mountain to Doi Pui (you can hike to the summit – a pleasant stroll through the forest) and then on to the Hmong community of Ban Khun Chang Khian for a local lunch. In the afternoon transfer out of Chiang Mai city to the stunning Chai Lai Orchid resort set on top of a hill overlooking a picturesque Karen village. Spend the night at Chai Lai Orchid enjoying their mix of Northern Thai and Burmese influenced food.

Day 2:

  • Wake up early to see the mist settling in the mountain valleys and enjoy a breakfast wake up call with the elephants who live at the resort
  • Hike through the surrounding countryside and villages to Mae Sapok waterfall and enjoy a packed lunch at the base of the falls surrounded by forest.
  • In the afternoon transfer back to Chiang Mai city and enjoy the evening sampling some of the great street food around the ‘old city’
Mae Sapok waterfall – a fantastic place for a jungle lunch

Day 3

  • Take the early morning flight to Mae Hong Son – only a short flight but take in the stunning views as you fly over the mountains, worth the price for the views alone.
  • Stay at the wonderful Fern Resort and enjoy the afternoon exploring the resort and floating in the fantastic infinity pool
  • In the late afternoon head to Wat Doi Kong Mu, perched on a hill overlooking Mae Hong Son town, make merit and watch the sunset.
  • In the evening enjoy the superb street food around the lake in the centre of Mae Hong Son town.
The infinity pool at the marvellous Fern Resort

Day 4:

  • After a hearty breakfast at Fern Resort (their bread is superb!) get your legs working on a wonderful 9km trek directly from the resort. Heading high up into the surrounding hills, passing by several small settlements and featuring some great waterfalls this is a fantastic hike but make sure you take enough water with you!
  • Enjoy a relaxing late afternoon with a beer or two at Fern Resorts sunset bar and then enjoy a lovely Northern Thai dinner at the resort
Trekking in Mae Hong Son

Day 5:

  • Fly back to Chiang Mai enjoying the stunning views over the mountains again ready for the next stops of your Thailand travel adventure.

Option 3 – A taste of the North, guaranteed to make you come back for more!

Day 1:

  • Head up to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep in the early morning to enjoy the sunrise (and avoid the crowds!) and take in the fantastic views over the city. Enjoy a warming coffee at one of the small coffee shops dotted around the base of the Temple.
  • Then head further up the mountain to Doi Pui (you can hike to the summit – a pleasant stroll through the forest) and then on to the Hmong community of Ban Khun Chang Khian for a local lunch.
  • In the afternoon explore Worarot Market – a great local market rather than one full of tourist trinkets – and then enjoy dinner by along the river. There are some great options here from the busy Goodview or Riverside to the more laid back River Market. The choice is yours.

Day 2:

  • Either rent a car or arrange for a minivan and guide and head in the morning to Mae Khamphong, a fantastic mountain village deep in the forest around 90 minutes from Chiang Mai city. Explore the village and enjoy an early lunch at one of the super little restaurants
  • Travel further up the mountain – stopping for coffee and cake at the coffee shops perched over the village – and take in the views at Kew Fin, stunning.
  • Then head over the ‘back’ of the mountain to Wat Chalerm Prakiat in Lampang province. The drive will take around 90 minutes but it’s through tiny mountain roads and stunning scenery and well worth it. Walk up to the mountain top ‘chedis’ and take in the amazing views.
  • Drive back to Chiang Mai and enjoy an evening bar hopping around the fashionable Nimman district of the city
Mountain village ‘behind’ Mae Khamphong

Day 3:

  • Learn to drive a Tuk Tuk (or sit back and let a driver lead the way)
    • Explore a remote mountainside Temple
    • Drive through tiny rural communities and rice fields
    • Meet a wonderful small group of elephants, feed them, walk with them and watch them bathe in the local river
    • Float downstream on bamboo rafts
  • In the evening soak up some Northern Thailand culture with a Khantoke dinner

Day 4:

  • Your mode of transport is up to you – either hire a car, a minivan and guide or, if you’re feeling super fit, rent a bicycle and then travel around the Samoeng Loop and Mon Cham.
  • The Samoeng Loop runs for 80km+ through the mountains right on the doorstep of Chiang Mai and takes you through spectacular scenery, small communities and some incredible views. There are plenty of places to stop and explore including the Botanical Gardens and lots of small coffee shops and restaurants.
  • Make sure you head even higher into the hills to visit Mon Cham. With it’s fantastic views, the traditional wooden go-karts (lots of fun for the adventurous whizzing down a dirt track) and yet more great coffee shops and small places to eat.
  • On your way around the loop enjoy taking random turnings down small side roads, you’ll come across tiny communities and spectacular scenery.
  • In the evening treat yourself to cocktails at sunset at the Yayee Hotel rooftop bar. Great views of the sun setting behind Doi Suthep, the perfect end to the day
Mountains in Northern Thailand with lots of farmland set against deep blue skies
Views along the Samoeng Loop

Day 5:

  • Enjoy a relaxing morning exploring the ‘old city’ taking in a couple of the most significant Temples, browsing the small shops and enjoying some people watching.
  • Have one last great Northern Thai meal at Khao Soi Islam – one of the best Khao Soi’s you’ll ever eat
  • Head off to your next destination with a thirst to come back and explore more of the North!

All three of our suggested 5 day itineraries are full of activity, get you deep into the heart of Northern Thailand’s mountains and culture and will provide you with 5 days to remember forever. And, we’re pretty sure that after dipping your toes into Northern Thailand you’ll be coming back again and again for more.

For more information on The Tuk Tuk Club’s Adventures in Northern Thailand take at look at all our adventures here.

And for more suggestions of things to do, places to stay and all things Northern Thailand, sit back, pull up a chair and read through all of our articles about the very best of this part of the world

Or for more detailed information on travelling in Chiang Mai take a look here, and if you’re keen to learn more about Mae Hong Son then this is the place to be!

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