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North Thailand Loop Authentic Cultural Discovery Tour 8D7N

Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai - Mae Hong Son : Thailand
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8 Days 7 Nights

Tour Type

Daily Tour

Group Size

20 people




Combines our 5d/4n Mae Hong Son Loop tour and 4d/3n Chiang Rai tour. We will travel through the heart of rural northern Thailand, seeing the best views and landscapes in the region, exploring local culture and life along the way.

We will see a wide variety of hill tribe groups (Karen, Akha, Hmong, Lisu etc.), visit authentic villages, and learn about their fascinating way of life. Get up close and personal to the Real Northern Thailand.

-This tour starts+ends in Chiang Mai. We can pick up+drop off at your hotel /airport/ train station in Chiang Mai
– Accommodation is at local guesthouses with 1-2 overnights in a village at a hilltribe homestay(optional)
– The itinerary is an outline only. The details of each day are not fixed, this allows for greater opportunity to explore local life along the way – This tour can be customised, please contact us to discuss

– This tour can be extended to 9+ days. For families with young children, spreading this itinerary over a minimum of 9 days to enable travel at a more family friendly pace.

– This tour starts+ends in Chiang Mai. We can pick up+drop off at your hotel/airport/train station in Chiang Mai
– The itinerary is an outline only, it is not fixed, this leaves opportunity to explore local life along the way
– This itinerary can be customised. Please contact us for more details

ATTENTION : Published price is only estimated budget, the final price will be confirmed after discussion with tour service provider.

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Day 1) Chiang Mai – Chiang Rai - Chiang Saen

Pick up from your hotel in Chiang Mai, then we'll depart for Chiang Rai, stop off at hot springs and to see aspects of local life along the way. Visit the famous White Temple, different from other temples in Thailand, popular for its unique and modern architecture

Onto the Golden Triangle, stop for pictures at the best viewpoint which overlooks the confluence of the Mekong river, forming the meeting point of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar

Optional) Boat trip across the Mekong river to visit a local tourist market on the Laos side

O/n at a local guesthouse in Chiang Saen

Day 2) Chiang Saen – Mae Salong – Thaton - Karen Village

Depart Chiang Saen, to visit a Fish & Monkey Cave (Wat Tham Pla), watch the wild monkeys climbing the limestone cave and swinging from the trees

Enjoy the scenic drive through the hills up to Mae Salong Chinese village, characterised by its terraced tea plantations, rustic locale, little shops selling Chinese teas and wares. The inhabitants here are mainly Chinese descendents who migrated from southern China hundreds of years ago.

We will descend Mae Salong, and head down to Thaton. On the way we will visit an Akha Hilltribe village. This community based tourism project is one of our favourites, because its owned and run by the villagers, and profits from entrance fees goes back into the village. An educational experience where a local Akha guide will demonstrate aspects of Akha life such as hunting, dancing, weaving, and traditional houses

Visit an authentic Karen Hilltribe village. Enjoy a traditional Karen meal together, and the chance to learn about Karen cooking and cuisine. O/n at Karen Hilltribe Homestay in a village (optional) or at a local guesthouse

Day 3) Karen Way of Life – Doi Angkhang

Learn about Karen hill tribe culture and village life, optional short trek to farm, learn about local nature and farming. Other activities may include visit to school, farming, weaving (seasonal dependent)

Onto Doi Angkhang (approx 2hrs drive). Enjoy the scenery as we drive up and through this sweeping mountain range that borders Myanmar. A cluster of peaks and valleys this is home to colourful minorities such as the Palong and Lahu hill tribe. O/n Doi Angkhang, local guesthouse

Enjoy the enjoy the idyllic location, views, cool climate and fresh mountain air. O/n in Doi Angkhang at a local guesthouse

Day 4) Doi Angkhang to Pai

Visit authentic Lahu and Palong hill tribe villages. These remote and misty villages still keep to the traditional way of life, living in bamboo stilt huts and wearing traditional costume. Learn about their fascinating culture and way of life in these remote and rural highlands

Visit an outlook point on the mountain ridge, which overlooks the Thailand/Myanmar border. Enjoy the views as we descend Doi Angkhang

Optional activities) Visit the elephants, bamboo rafting, Tiger Kingdom, or other activities upon request

Drive to Pai (approx 3hrs drive). Enjoy the night market on Pai's main walking street. O/n at local guesthouse in Pai.

Day 5) Pai to Mae Hong Son

Enjoy the scenic mountain drive and lofty landscape views, as we travel from Pai to Mae Hong Son. This route, is famous for its curves, and mountain scenery (approx 2hrs drive)

We will stop for pictures at viewpoints, and for aspects of local life along the way, such as roadside markets

Visit a Lisu hilltribe village

Enjoy a local dinner and the evening market by Jong Kham lake. O/n at local guesthouse in Mae Hon Son town

Day 6) In and around Mae Hong Son

Visit a Shan (ethnic minority) village and learn about how the locals produce sesame with the help of buffaloes

Optional visit to a Kayan Long neck village, nearby the Thai-Burma border. To reach the village we will take a long tail boat - enjoy the tropical scenery and nature, along the banks of the river. Chance to learn about the fascinating culture and way of life of the Kayan Long Neck hill tribe women. We will explore the village, for example, visit to the village school, and see the women weaving.

Depart Mae Hong Son for Mae la noi (2hrs drive). Stop off at a viewpoint and enjoy fresh local coffee

Enjoy the scenic drive to Karen & Lawa hill tribe villages nestled in mountains (1,200m above sea level)

Upon arrival at the top, you will be warmly welcomed by your homestay family. Enjoy cooking and eating a traditional meal together

O/n in the village at a hilltribe homestay (optional) or at a local guesthouse

Day 7) Karen & Lawa Hilltribe villages

Walk around the villages, as your guide explains to you about the hilltribe way of life. Because we follow the natural rhythms of village life, sights and activities may vary. However you may see women weaving cotton, pounding rice, the village silversmith and village school

Visit a mountain temple, with a chance to learn about Buddhism and the lives of Buddhist monks and nuns. Enjoy the view overlooking the mountain and villages

Enjoy last moments in the villages before heading down the mountains

O/n at a local guesthouse in Mae Sariang town

Day 8) Mae Sariang to Chiang Mai

We will head back to Chiang Mai (approx 4hrs drive), enjoying the last of the mountain scenery. Optional visit to Doi Inthanon Mountain & National Park or other optional activities in Chiang Mai can be made upon request

End of tour in Chiang Mai


  • - Accommodation
  • - Transportation
  • - Mentioned activities
  • - Support guides
  • - Meals
  • - Drinking Water
  • - Insurance
  • - Personal Expenses
  • - Tips

Tour's Location

Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai - Mae Hong Son : Thailand


What is the best time of year to visit?
Winter (Nov-Feb) This is tourism high season. Tourists prefer to visit during these months due to the all round pleasant weather conditions and as the temperature drops by a few degrees.
Rainy season (May-Sep) Whilst many people avoid rainy season, in our experience its one of the best times to visit. The rain often comes in short downpours, but is rarely severe or prolonged enough to interfere with travel. There are also many advantages to visiting during this time; the nature and scenery is at its most lush green, and with fewer tourists around.
Summer time (March-April) This is the least preferable time to visit, as temperatures reach the mid-late 30 degrees celcius. This is also the season when farmers burn the fields and forests, so air quality is bad and visibility of mountain views reduced by haze.
Why don't you have an all-inclusive price ?
This allows for flexibility in the tour, so you can choose accommodation/ restaurants/ activities. Each tour is unique, and we can customise them depending on your preferences.
This is also part of our local pay policy, whereby you pay local businesses and our homestay families directly for their services. They benefit directly from your visit , and do not pay us any commission for us taking you there.
We understand that you would like to have a rough idea of how much a total tour will cost, before signing up for one - so we're always happy to provide an estimate of what the exclusions are and total tour cost.
Do I need to book hotels beforehand?
During high season (Nov-Feb) it is recommended to book hotels beforehand, especially if you want first choice. Throughout the rest of the year it is not as necessary unless there is a special festival such as Songkran (Thai New Year) or Loi Kratong (Light festival). For accommodation during our tours, we will handle hotel reservations.
Is it recommended for kids?
Northern Thailand is a fantastic destination for kids, as it offers something for all ages. From soft adventure and outdoor activities, opportunities for cultural exploration, nature and animals, there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained. The hilltribehomestay in particular is a great educational and cultural experience for children, and an enriching experience for all the family.
Is Malaria a problem?
Malaria only exists in specific rural zones along the Thai/Myanmar border most of which are very remote, and not easily accessed by tourists. We do not visit any malarial zones on our tours
What are facilities like at the homestay?
Facilities at the homestay are be basic, with running electricity but no hot water. For bedding, thin mattresses, blankets and mosquito nets are provided. In villages the bathroom is often located underneath the house, with a vat of water and squat toilet
What can I bring for my homestay family?
It is very nice of you to want to bring a gift and anything will be appreciated by your homestay family. We recommend that your guide take you to buy something from the local market here, and you can also bring a small gift from home, maybe something that symbolises your home country.
What will I need to bring?
– All travel items can be purchased easily and cheaply in Chiang Mai, so you don’t need to bring every essential with you. Insect repellant, sunblock, common drugs are all widely available here.
– For the hilltribe homestay you don’t need to bring a lot, but you may want to pack; insect repellant, small flashlight, light warm clothing, gift for the homestay family (your guide can take you to buy fruits/snacks at a local market on the way).
– Bedding and mosquito nets are provided at the homestay, so you do not need to bring sleeping bags unless you wish
– During the winter months (Nov-Jan), early morning and night time temperatures can drop to as low as 8 celcius, so please bring warm clothing and a light jacket.
How long do I need in northern Thailand?
We are often asked how much time is enough for northern Thailand? Our personal answer would be ‘never long enough’. However if your time is limited, we suggest at least 2 days to cover the basic sights of Chiang Mai city, although you could easily spend a week here and not have covered all that it has to offer. If you want to explore the countryside beyond Chiang Mai, 3 days is recommended for Chiang Rai province, and 5 days for Mae Hong Son.
Will there be atms?
There are many atms in Chiang Mai city, and also in the towns we travel through on our tours. So it’s possible to access cash along our trip
– During rainy season, waterproof jackets are recommended
from $ 880

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Hilltribe Holidays

Member Since 2017

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