Travel through northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai and the Golden Triangle
Experience the serenity of northern Thailand while exploring the notorious Golden Triangle region. Beginning and ending in the charismatic city of Chiang Mai, the trip takes you to explore the Chiang Dao Caves before arriving at a charming town of Doi Mae Salong. The region is famous for its Chinese tea traders and you can enjoy a cup of tea in a traditional Chinese tea house overlooking the mountains. Then, make tracks to the Golden Triangle and stand on the confluence of the Mekong and Ruak rivers. Uncover facts and fables about the region’s chequered history, visit the Opium Hall. Enjoy bold landscapes and tuck into mouth-watering regional dishes, before ending the adventure soaking in the hot-springs of Mae Ka Chan. This short break covers many highlights of the less-frequented northern reaches of Thailand, making it a must-do for travellers who want to dig beneath the surface of this enthralling country.
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Why we love this trip
Journey into the countryside north of Chiang Mai on this short trip and experience the Golden Triangle, the infamous area where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet
Discover rural village life with an overnight stay in Doi Mae Salong, a beautiful region up in the mountains where tea is grown and local hilltribe people come to sell their crafts in the town market
No trip to Chiang Rai would be complete without a visit to the funky White Temple. Check out the startling modern design, and see where traditional Thai art and murals are broken up with pop culture references
Is this trip right for you?
This trip will run with a minimum of one person, so you may be joined by other travellers booked on the same date as you, or you may be on your own.
This trip starts early on Day 1 and finishes late on Day 3. Therefore we recommend you book pre and post accommodation in Chiang Mai in conjunction with this trip. Our sales team can assist with these extra nights.
This morning you’ll be picked up from the joining point hotel by your local guide between 8am-9am, along with other travellers in your group. If you prefer to be picked up from a different, centrally located Hotel in Chiang Mai, please advise your sale agent at least 14 days before your departure date. Set off by road to the Golden Triangle region, the area where Thailand meets Myanmar and Laos. Your private minivan/car (depending on numbers) will head first to Chiang Dao Caves (approximately 1.5 hours). Explore the set of five interconnected caves that make up Chiang Dao, thought to expand more than 12 kilometres into Doi Chiang Dao Mountain. The caves are among the most extensive in the county and are associated with Wat Chiang Dao, and so are a popular pilgrimage spot for both monks and ordinary Thais. The caverns contain hermit images, a reclining Buddha, rock formations, and also a royal coat of arms to mark the visit of the Thai Queen. You’ll then continue on to the charming small town of Doi Mae Salong (approximately 3 hours). The atmosphere here is reminiscent of a small southern Chinese village, and the region is famous for its Chinese tea traders – so enjoy a cup of tea in a traditional Chinese tea house overlooking the mountains and tea fields. In the late afternoon there is time to explore the interesting markets, where you may see produce and crafts made by hilltribe people like the Akha. Please note sometimes in the low season the markets will close early. You’ll stay overnight here in Doi Mae Salong.
After breakfast, jump in a private minivan/car and visit the point of the Golden Triangle, where the Thailand, Myanmar and Laos borders meet. Stop at the border town of Mae Sai (approximately 1.5 hours), the most northern town in all of Thailand. It’s a great place to do some souvenir shopping; full of colourful shops stacked with Myanmar lacquerware, gems, jade and other goods from Laos and China, all at some of the best prices around! Enjoy lunch overlooking the mighty Mekong River and then pay a visit to the House of Opium Museum for a deeper insight into opium culture and this area’s problematic, drug-filled past. This afternoon climb on board a longtail boat and travel on the Mekong River to the old city of Chiang Saen, the ancient capital of the Lanna Kingdom. On the way there is a chance to step foot into Laos. Chiang Saen is surrounded on three sides by impressive ramparts, with the Mekong forming the fourth wall. Ruins lie around this charming one-street market town of quiet wooden shophouses. The town is also famous for the local rice whiskey sold from distilleries on the banks of river. From here you will travel south from the Golden Triangle to Chiang Rai (approximately 75 minutes), where you’ll spend the night.
- Golden Triangle - Opium Hall
- Golden Triangle - Khong River boat trip
Chiang Rai boasts a relaxed atmosphere, a great night market, and a variety of good restaurants. This charming city has a small-town feel and is a great place to explore on foot. For many, the privately owned Wat Rong Khun, more commonly known as the White Temple, is a must-visit. Travel approximately 30 minutes out to this contemporary temple, started in 1997 and expected to be a work in progress for another 60 to 70 years. The temple is constantly being added to and its strange design features references to Buddhist mythology, human sin and pop culture icons such as Michael Jackson, Harry Potter and Superman. You will then journey 70 minutes to Mae Ka Chan Hot Springs, with a lunch stop along the way. Although oddly located in the 'car park', the springs offer an opportunity to take a relaxing soak, and/or enjoy a foot massage 'fish spa style', whilst munching on quail eggs which have been cooked in the heat of the waters. After enjoying the hot springs you’ll hop back on the bus and return to Chiang Mai, the journey taking about 1.5 hours and arriving back at around 5pm.
Notes: Please note no accommodation is included tonight.
- Wat Rong Kun (white temple)
- Mae Ka Chan hot springs
- Mae Ka Chan Hot Spring Egg Boiling
Hotel (2 nights)
Chiang Dao Caves
Golden Triangle - Opium Hall
Golden Triangle - Khong River boat trip
Wat Rong Kun (white temple)
Mae Ka Chan hot springs
Mae Ka Chan Hot Spring Egg Boiling
Dates & availability
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1. This Short Break Adventure starts at 8am on Day 1 and finishes at 5pm on Day 3.
2. You will be picked up on Day 1 from the Joining Point Hotel listed in the Trip Note Information for this itinerary. Pick-up will take place between 8am and 9am in the Hotel foyer..
3. If you require pick up from another centrally-located hotel in Chiang Mai, please inform your booking agent at least 14 days prior to departure.
Essential trip information
Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.