Northern Thailand is a relatively unexplored wilderness. Rich in culture and stunning scenery it’s a mystery to us as to why it hasn’t received the same droves of travelers that have flocked to Thailand’s Southern Islands. That being said, we think it’s to your benefit that it’s still so quiet and undisturbed. But what is it exactly that makes our journeys through the mountains so joyous? And what’s so special about a Tuk Tuk Adventure?
Of course, we must start with the land itself. Northern Thailand is rich in everything the perfect road trip needs. Rolling hills in what can technically be considered the base of the Himalaya, swathes of untouched and protected forests and sustainable farming terraces for as far as the eye can see. Our carefully planned route takes you through the highlights of everything, on a modified version of the fames Mae Hong Son Loop.
On days 1 and 2 we explore the temples and elephant communities of the area surrounding Chiang Mai. This isn’t jungle proper quite yet, but it’s still a stunning area to be. Starting from out basecamp we follow the road into a small valley and drive along the banks of a river towards elephant central. This road is just a taster for the journey ahead and yet you already get a feel for the scale of the adventure.
The forest is already thick on either side and if you somehow got diverted from the path you may find yourself getting lost! After these first couple of days, we leave civilization for a bit and head towards the tallest Mountain in all of Thailand. Views on the way here are spectacular, green rolling hills that stretch into the distance with exotic trees and fruits growing everywhere we can guarantee it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before. After that it is non-stop adventure, with mountain after mountain to be climbed and tremendous views at every stopping point.
If you’re lucky, you may also see some wildlife exclusive to this region of northern Thailand. Small colourful birds can be found in the treetops and grass on hillsides while gibbons can be heard howling in the mornings and sometimes even seen hiding in the branches at night. And of course, that’s before we’ve even mentioned everyone’s favourite – elephants! It is extremely rare to find the wild elephants in Northern Thailand, but they are out there along with Tigers and Civets.
Not only is the scenery amazing, but so are the people. Thailand is already country known for its amazing hospitality, but the northern people take it to the next level. While Thailand has been called the land of smiles, the northern region could be called the land of laughter. For most, life is very simple. You’re born and attend the local school before helping the family and community tend to the farms, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t usually full of smiles and very happy to accommodate anyone who visits.
Our trip visits several small communities, the first being the family we stay with at the base of Doi Inthanon who always enjoy cooking meals for everyone, and the entire family helps with the process.
We also visit a small village that grows tea and coffee for a livelihood. This community is passionate about what they do, offering educational classes and an opportunity to learn about the tea and coffee they make (at the end of our hike we sample a selection of their products before heading back to our accommodation for homecooked dinner!). They also love to show off their traditional dress, with buildings in their village dedicated to showcasing each families designs and products, and you can even purchase handmade clothing with all of the proceeds going to family that made it.
Thailand has also been hailed as a global powerhouse when it comes to flavours and great food. The northern region is no different. Northern food is noticeably sweeter than what you might find in Bangkok or the deep south, but it plays on that and the dishes you can find are often vastly different to the central area and what makes it overseas. Take Khao Soi for example, a noodle dish based on a light curry broth with braised beef chunks, egg noodles and various pickled veg and crispy egg noodles to garnish. It is unrecognisable when compared to Pad See Ew or Pad Thai.
Many dishes are also unique to the area because of the Laotian and Burmese influence, with Hang Lay Curry being a phenomenal example. Reserved typically for weddings and large celebrations it is a curry rarely found anywhere in Thailand but several of our hotels have it on their menus and we can certainly recommend it! Just because you’re on an adventure doesn’t mean you can’t have great food, and our trips reflect that, taking you to all the best local spots for authentic and delicious meals.
And finally, we must finish with the showstopper… Our Tuk-Tuks are the driving force behind what we do. Without them we wouldn’t be able to climb those mountains or visit those rural communities or taste all those amazing meals. You might be thinking “Ok but why can’t we take a regular vehicle” and our response to that is simply why would you want to? A Tuk-Tuk allows you to fully immerse yourself in your surroundings, seeing nature and smelling all the natural scents. Not to mention, the feeling of satisfaction one can have after they’ve successfully learnt to drive a Tuk-Tuk and used one to experience a 900km road trip.
Tuk-Tuks, People, Good Food and Mountains. What more could one need for an escape to Northern Thailand?
To find our more about our 11 Day Tuk Tuk Adventures click here.