Explore Northern Thailand
Tour Commences: Bangkok | Tour Finishes: Chiang Mai | 8 day itinerary | From £840pp
Northern Thailand is a treasure trove filled with glittering temples, ancient ruins, exotic markets and sumptuous foods. Explore the capital of Siam’s golden age at Sukhothai, visit the bustling markets of Chiang Mai, stay at a special homestay with local friends and enjoy a traditional khantok dinner – there’s so much to discover on this tour through Thailand’s northern kingdoms.
Why you’ll love this trip
- Support an important animal welfare initiative and get close to incredible creatures at Chang Chill Elephant Park
- Discover the secrets to Thai cuisine, pick up some impressive new culinary skills and taste delicious local dishes in a Chiang Mai cooking class
- Work up an appetite with a leisurely cycle through the ancient Buddhas and ruined temples of World Heritage-listed Sukhothai Park, then feast on a home-cooked picnic lunch
- See how the locals live on a bicycle ride through your homestay village. Ride past the rice fields and breathe in the fresh country air, with beautiful mountains in the distance
Day 1: Bangkok
Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Bangkok, Thailand’s bustling capital. Bangkok is famous for its tuk tuks, khlong boats and street vendors serving up delicious Thai food. With no planned activities until your important welcome meeting at 6 pm, why not head out and explore. You could take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, uncover the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, wander down the tourist mecca of Khao San Road, or indulge in a Thai massage. After the meeting tonight, perhaps gather your fellow travellers together and tuck into some into world famous street food.
Day 2 - 3: Sukhothai
This morning, leave the current capital of Thailand and head north by train (approx 6 hours) and private mini van (approx 1 hour) to one of the first ancient capitals of Siam, Sukhothai. Located on a fertile plain, Sukhothai was established in the 13th century, and the name means the ‘Dawn of Happiness’. It’s now famous for its World Heritage-listed historic park that celebrates the Golden Age of Thai civilisation. Tonight, be sure to head to the fascinating local night market and try the local dishes, like Sukhothai noodles.
Head out to the historical ruins of Old Sukhothai, set amid beautiful lakes and gardens. The religious art and architecture of the Sukhothai era are considered to be the most classic of Thai styles, and the Sukhothai Historical Park contains the remains of 21 historic sites, with awe-inspiring Buddha images and four large ponds often filled with stunning lotus flowers in full bloom. Upon arrival at the park, hire bicycles and enjoy a few leisurely hours feeling the breeze in your hair and learning about the history of this fascinating place. Enjoy a home-cooked picnic lunch somewhere along the way, and if you have enough free time, visit a local ceramics factory.
Day 4: Village Homestay
Travel by private minivan from Sukothai (approx 4 hours) to the warm and welcoming home of Intrepid’s long-time friends in a small Thai village where you’ll spend the night. Accommodation at the homestay is multishare and basic (there will be fold-out mattresses on the floor and shared bathrooms), but there is no better way to better understand a country and its people. In the evening, you’ll be treated to a traditional northern Thai khantok dinner, accompanied by live music and dancing.
Day 5: Village Homestay - Chiang Mai
In the morning, jump on some bikes and cruise around the homestay village. This is a great opportunity to see how the locals live, and you’ll make a few stops along the way to see small country industries in the area. Cycling past the rice fields and breathing in the fresh country air, with beautiful mountains in the distance, makes this morning a picture-postcard experience. Say goodbye to your new friends and travel on to Chiang Mai (approximately 45 minutes). The most vibrant city in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai has many famous temples and an interesting old city area. Renowned for dazzling beauty and extremely welcoming locals, the ‘Rose of the North’ will leave you spellbound. Chances are, you won’t want to leave. Swing by the Free Bird Cafe, a branch of the Thai Freedom House social enterprise that offers education and training to Burmese migrants and refugees. The cafe is used to train students from Thai Freedom House in the hospitality industry, and profits from the cafe feed straight back to the enterprise. Enjoy a tasty meal here while hearing more about their story. Tonight, why not head to the famous vibrant night markets!
Day 6 - 8: Chiang Mai
Today you can enjoy a Thai cooking class! If you’re a foodie, then you’ll discover some of the secrets of Thai cuisine, learn the key ingredients, how to use them, and what to use in their place if you can’t get them at home. As well as taking your own comprehensive recipe book with you after the class, you’ll feast on the fruits of your labour for lunch. The rest of the day is free for you to explore Chiang Mai at leisure. Perhaps explore the famous temple complex of Doi Suthep. Drive along a scenic, winding mountain road that ends at an impressive 300-step naga-guarded stairway (approximately 45 mins). The rewards justify the climb with one of the most beautiful temples in Thailand on display, not to mention fantastic panoramic views of the city and the opportunity to listen to hypnotic evening chanting by resident Buddhist monks. Or maybe wander markets, meet monks, cruise the river, and slurp noodles on a Mae Ping River Experience.
You’ll have a pretty special time visiting the Chang Chill elephant experience. Take a 1.5-hour drive out of Chiang Mai to ChangChill, where you’ll begin to learn how this organisation supports the protection, conservation and lifestyle of free roaming elephants in the region. You’ll observe the daily patterns of these jungle giants from a safe distance, seeing how they graze and socialise with their other friends. The expert local guides will be able to give you a ‘live lecture’ on the elephants themselves, its sustainable tourism practices and conservation efforts in the area. Enjoy some refreshments nearby the elephant’s mud pit but be careful not to get a spray! Be treated to some lunch in a riverside sala (pavilion) alongside your giant friends, who will be enjoying a meal too. Return to Chiang Mai where the rest of the time is at leisure.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. If you are staying on in Chiang Mai why not join an Urban Adventure and allow yourself to be spirited away on an early morning Chiang Mai tour that puts you at the epicentre of Buddhist rituals. Learn to meditate, offer alms to monks, and make an offering at a temple. If you’re feeling active then you might want to saddle up for a half day cycling trip. Enjoy a pleasant ride along the green banks of the Ping River and stop at a former leper colony turned rehabilitation centre. Continue along various fruit orchards, cycling down small country roads and meandering around the villages on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. Here you’ll discover the real rural Thailand and encounter the Thai way of life. Explore the temple ruins of Wiang Kum Kam, the former capital of Lanna, before you cycle back to Chiang Mai.
Travellers on Intrepid trips are required to produce proof of full vaccination against COVID-19.
1. A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip excluding Day 4 (Homestay).
This 8 day tour starts at £840 per person and includes…
- Meals – 3 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 1 dinner
- Transfers – Private minibus, public bus, songthaew, taxi, train, tuk tuk, bicycle
- Accommodation – Hotel (4 nights), resort (2 nights), homestay (1 night)
- Sukhothai – Night Market
- Sukhothai – Historical Park bike tour
- Sukhothai – Home-cooked picnic lunch
- Village Homestay – Cultural performance
- Village Homestay – Khantok dinner
- Village Homestay – Home-Cooked Lunch
- Village Homestay – Cycling tour
- Chiang Mai – Lunch at Freebird Cafe
- Chiang Mai – Thai Cooking Class
- Chiang Mai – ChangChill elephant sanctuary
- Chiang Mai – ChangChill Elephant Sanctuary lunch
Price based on selected departures (please note prices & availability are subject to change).
Please enquire below and one of Intrepid Travel’s destination experts will be in contact to discuss this trip.