The True North

'The world’s best driving holiday‘, ‘full beam exotic Asia‘ and ‘a journey into a nation’s soul‘ The Sunday Times

11 Day Tuk Tuk Tour of Northern Thailand

Take this trip and you won’t just see Northern Thailand, you’ll feel it in your soul. Over the course of 11 days you’ll see the true North - a side of the country few travellers ever experience. You’ll trek towering forests and float down rivers to villages where the old ways still hold sway. You’ll stay in some of the coolest boutique hotels and connect with remote Hill Tribe communities untouched by the tourist dollar. You’ll eat authentic Northern Thai food every day and drink the best coffee of your life straight from the plantation. You’ll learn how to drive a Tuk Tuk and set off on winding mountain roads where few Westerners ever go. And when the adventure if over for the day, you’ll spend long tropical evenings swapping stories and kicking back in some of the North’s very best bars and restaurants. So if you’re looking for a true Thai adventure… it starts here.

What do you get?

  • One of our customised Tuk Tuks and all the fuel
  • Detailed, professional Tuk Tuk driver training
  • The very best local guides and a tour leaders with you the whole way
  • Fantastic, twin-share accommodation throughout the trip
  • Pick up and drop off in Chiang Mai City
  • A Temple blessing, elephant home visit and a jungle trek in Doi Inthanon National Park
  • 10 breakfasts, three lunches, five dinners and advice on all the best restaurants and bars
  • A support vehicle to carry all your gear, so you don’t have to carry it about
  • And lots of extras along the way

Available Dates

  • 16th November 2020
  • 7th December 2020
  • 4th January 2021
  • 18th January 2021
  • 1st February 2021
  • 15th February 2021
  • 1st March 2021
  • 15th March 2021
  • 29th March 2021
  • 26th April 2021
  • 10th May 2021
  • 24th May 2021
  • 7th June 2021
  • 21st June 2021
  • 5th July 2021
  • 19th July 2021
  • 2nd August 2021
  • 16th August 20211
  • 30th August 2021
  • 13th September 2021
  • 27th September 2021
  • 11th October 2021
  • 25th October 2021
  • 29th November 2021
  • 13th December 2021
  • 10th January 2022
  • 24th January 2022
  • 7th February 2022
  • 21st February 2022
  • 7th March 2022
  • 21st March 2022
  • 25th April 2022
  • 9th May 2022
  • 23rd May 2022
  • 6th June 2022
  • 20th June 2022
  • 4th July 2022
  • 18th July 2022
  • 1st August 2022
  • 15th August 2022
  • 29th August 2022
  • 12th September 2022
  • 26th September 2022
  • 10th October 2022
  • 24th October 2022
  • 7th November 2022
  • 21st November 2022
  • 5th December 2022

From £1395 Per Person
(reserve your place with a deposit of just £50 pp)

Where you'll go

Mae Wang

Our base camp is in a stunning valley about an hour from Chiang Mai. This is where you’ll learn to drive your Tuk Tuk, get a Temple blessing for the journey ahead and spend some time with elephants at a local elephant home. A great way to spend you first few days on the road.

Doi Inthanon National Park

Wind your way up back country roads and catch up with remote mountain communities before arriving at the towering Doi Inthanon - Thailand’s highest mountain at over 2,500m. A authentic Hill Tribe village near the National Park is our base for two nights while we explore the area, swim under beautiful waterfalls and trek through the untouched forest.

Mae Sariang

Surrounded by forests, mountains and rivers and inhabited by Lawa, Karen and other Hill Tribe groups, Mae Sariang is a lovely little town with fascinating Temples, friendly people and the untouched river to sit by having a well-deserved cold beer.

Mae Hong Son

Lush forests, working rice paddies, jungle trekking and dinner and drinks in a bar with the greatest sunset view (in our humble opinion) in the whole of South East Asia. This place was a favourite haunt of Brad and Angelina when they wanted to get away from the paparazzi, and you can see why, it’s the perfect place to get away from it all.

Pai

Once the ultimate ‘travellers’ hide away, now the location of our favourite boutique hotel in Thailand. After winding through mountains you’ll arrive in the outskirts of Pai to spend a couple of nights in this fantastic small resort. You can chill by the pool, explore local Temples, do a bit of trekking, or take in the scenery.

Itinerary

Day 1: Tuk Tuk Training And Temple Blessing

We’ll pick you up at 10:00am from the Chiang Mai Gate Hotel in Chiang Mai city and transfer you to our training base for the adventure ahead.

On arrival at our ‘base camp’ in Mae Wang at around 11:30 we’ll check you in to your accommodation, have lunch together and then begin your driver training. Once everyone has got to grips with the basics we’ll head on your first test drive to a local Temple where we can ‘make merit’ for the journey ahead! In the evening it’s time for a proper Northern Thai feast.

What's included?

  • Transfer from Chiang Mai Gate Hotel to our ‘base camp’
  • Detailed, professional Tuk Tuk orientation and training
  • ‘Making merit’ at the local temple
  • Lunch and Dinner
  • Twin / double share accommodation in a very pleasant rural resort in Mae Wang – air-conditioning, en-suite rooms

Day 2: Tuk Tuks And Elephants

After breakfast we’ll go through more driver training, building on what you learned yesterday, and run through all the nitty-gritty of the trip ahead.

Then it’s time to venture a little further afield with a test drive through small country roads to a fantastic elephant home that is leading the way in taking elephants away from a life of trekking and instead creating an environment where people can learn about and spend time with elephants on their terms, not ours!

We’ll head slowly in convoy to the elephant home giving all the opportunity to get some ‘road time’ and confidence. On arrival, you’ll learn about the history of the elephants, what the team at the Elephant home are doing and then, after a great lunch at the home, it’s time to enjoy the company of these wonderful animals. You’ll be able to feed them, get to know them and then walk with them (no riding allowed!) to the local river where you’ll bathe with them.

In the late afternoon we’ll have a change of pace as you float gently downstream on bamboo rafts before there’s time for more driving practice as we head back to the base camp for dinner and getting ready for an adventurous day tomorrow.

What's included?

  • Tuk Tuk training
  • Visit to the elephant home and all associated activities
  • Bamboo rafting
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Twin / double share accommodation in a very pleasant rural resort in Mae Wang – air-conditioning, en-suite rooms

Day 3: The Road To Doi Inthanon

After an early breakfast we’re hitting the road and heading along small country roads towards Thailand’s highest mountain, Doi Inthanon. Your guide will be in the lead tuk tuk and we’ll travel in convoy with the support vehicle at the rear. The first 20-30km of the route is simple with gentle curving roads but we soon hit stunning switch back bends, incredible scenery and tiny Karen hill tribe villages as we make our way towards the National Park.

Enjoy the look of complete surprise from everyone as they see Tuk Tuks this far up in the mountains – trust us, novelty doesn’t not even begin to cover it – and we’ll stop frequently to have a look at different villages / views and of course to sample some of the great coffee and snacks in small villages. You’ll get a true taste of Northern Thai style cuisine with lunch at a roadside snack bar.

We arrive at our accommodation mid-afternoon before jumping in another classic Thai mode of transport – a ‘Songtaew’ – a shared taxi adapted from a pick up truck, which drives us to the summit of the mountain.

What's included?

  • Tuk Tuks and support vehicle
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • National Park entry fees
  • Twin / double shared accommodation near Doi Inthanon. This is the most basic of our accommodation but what it lacks in 'mod cons' is more than made up for by the fantastic views and warmth of the local commuity. En-suite facilities and no extra charge for the awesome views!

Day 4: Jungle Trekking

We’re giving the tuk tuks a well deserved rest today and exploring the National Park on foot. Accompanied by an expert trekking guide we’ll explore the stunning forest around the area on a trek of around 6km which takes in great views and a stunning waterfall.

Lunch is provided on the trek and your trekking guide is a mine of information on both the people and wildlife of the surrounding areas. The more questions you have, they happier they’ll be!.

We’ll arrive back at the accommodation around mid – late afternoon, just in time to rest up, relax and then enjoy a great countryside Thai feast.

What's included?

  • Trek and trekking guide
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • The same accommodation as on night three

Day 5: On The Road Again

Time to get back on the road and today we head out of Doi Inthanon National Park towards our destination of Mae Sariang, close to the Burmese border.

Our route winds through incredible scenery and some very quiet roads for the first section of the day and we then join the main road for the last hour or two into Mae Sariang. Towering trees, steep hills and more than a few sharp curves are the order of the day and we’ll, as always, take frequent stops to enjoy the area, let the tuk tuk cool down and to allow traffic to pass (and see all taking photos of you as yet again everyone is stunned by the site to Tuk Tuks up here).

We’ll arrive in Mae Sariang around mid-late afternoon and check into our superb riverside accommodation for the night.

Mae Sariang is well worth exploring with friendly people, a fascinating mix of Thai and Burmese culture (Mae Sariang is home to many Burmese Muslims) and some interesting temples. Alternatively, cool off in the pool, have a cold beer on the terrace over the river watching the sun go down, or all of the above!

What's included?

  • Tuk Tuks and support vehicle
  • Breakfast
  • Twin share riverside accommodation in Mae Sariang – air-conditioning, en-suite bathrooms and a swimming pool

Day 6: More Bends and Mountains

Mae Hong Son is our destination today and we’ll head up, over and around the mountains on one of Thailand’s most stunning roads to reach our accommodation. With plenty of stops to change drivers, go ‘wow’ at the scenery and chat to all and sundry wondering how on earth you’re driving a tuk tuk this is most definitely a day to keep you camera handy and dust off the go-pro!

We’ll arrive at your accommodation around mid-afternoon giving you enough time to check in, have a quick swim in the resort’s lovely pool and settle into the amazing sunset bar nestled right amongst the rice fields. An ice cold Singha beer has never tasted so good!

What's included?

  • Tuk tuks and support vehicle
  • Breakfast
  • Twin share accommodation outside Mae Hong Song town – air-conditioning, en-suite, swimming pools and stunning location!

Day 7: Explore Mae Song

A day off for your tuk tuks and some time to do as you please. There’s a fantastic 8km trek through the forest right from the resort grounds, a swimming pool to hang out by or you can head into Mae Hong Son town to explore (around 10-15 mins by minivan).

What's included?

  • Optional trek – one of our team will accompany you
  • Breakfast
  • The same fantastic resort you stayed in on day six

Day 8: Over The Mountains To Pai

Pai, one of the most famous of all mountain towns in Thailand, is our destination today but before we get there we need to negotiate several hundred bends and some of the steepest roads on the trip. With great forest and incredible views this is a great day and towards mid / late afternoon we’ll drop down into the valley where Pai sits.

Your accommodation is 5km outside the town sitting amongst rice fields and great views wherever you look. There’s also a lovely swimming pool to relax, enjoy the stunning scenery and reflect on the incredible journey so far.

What's included?

  • Tuk tuks and support vehicle
  • Breakfast
  • Twin share accommodation outside Pai – air-conditioning, en-suite, swimming pool and fantastic views

Day 9: Explore Pai

Another day to let the tuk tuks rest and give you the opportunity to do some exploring on your own. From hot springs and temples to hanging out by the pool or exploring the local villages, our guides are on hand to help arrange all sorts of activities. Or you can just kick back and take in the stunning views from your stylish boutique resort.

What's included?

  • Breakfast
  • The same awesome hotel you stayed in on day eight

Day 10: The Last Leg

Setting off in the early morning we negotiate the final few hundred bends as we drop back down towards Chiang Mai and then to our base camp at Mae Wang You’ll notice a huge change in the villages, people and temperature as we head lower and lower.

We take today pretty easy and you’ll have lots of opportunities to stop and explore and will arrive back in Mae Wang late afternoon/early evening. Then it’s time to freshen up before we have a final night feast and share travel stories from the last 10 days..

What's included?

  • Tuk tuks and support vehicle
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • Twin / double share accommodation in a very pleasant rural resort in Mae Wang – air-conditioning, en-suite rooms

Day 11: A Fond Farewell

After a lie in – it will have been a late night last night! – we’ll transfer back to Chiang Mai Gate Hotel arriving around 12:30pm. You are now a fully-fledged member of The Tuk Tuk Club!

"Above and beyond expectations. Whoever wants a unique experience should try this tour. Every single day is a new experience, a new adventure.You simply can't wait until the morning to jump into the driving seat to the next adventure. You learn so much about the tribes, habits, nature, history, religion and food from this region. Thai people are most probably the kindest and most welcoming people you will ever meet. The whole trip is fun, safe and relaxing. "
11 day tour
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