Experience Chiang Mai and village life on this trek through northern Thailand

Pull on your walking boots, stretch those leg muscles and take to the hills on a classic Intrepid trek through Thailand’s hilltribe country. Walk along winding jungle tracks and through green fields, observing what life is really like for villagers in this remote area, and sleep in traditional bamboo huts at night. Make friends with welcoming tribespeople as you hike through this remote region where each tribe has its own distinct language, style of dress and religion and learn the secrets to jungle survival from those who know best. Stay on a few extra days to explore ancient temples in Chiang Mai - there are over 300! If you’re after a short city escape and the chance to experience the real Thailand away from the tourist crowds, then this trip is just the ticket.

Following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej a 1 year mourning period has been declared in Thailand. In the first 30 days all government offices will fly the Thai flag at half-mast and there will likely be restrictions on the opening hours or selling of alcohol at entertainment venues including pubs and clubs. If your trip is before mid-January 2017 and includes a visit to the Grand Palace, this activity will be replaced with an alternative as the Palace will be closed to tourists while people from all over Thailand pay their respects to the King. Your leader will discuss this and any other changes with you at the Group Meeting on Day 1. As this is an emotional time for Thailand and its people we ask that our travellers wear dark coloured clothing over the next 30 days as a mark of respect to the much loved King.

Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Short Breaks, Walking & Trekking
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Min 12
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
87kg pp per trip


  • Discover real Thai countryside and its people with a 3-day trek into the hills of Northern Thailand
  • Local guides deepen the learning and appreciation of different villages, each with their own language, clothing style and belief systems
  • Meet and chat with friendly villagers and discover more about their unique cultures
  • Stay in atmospheric bamboo huts in different hilltribe villages each night
  • Explore remote villages, help prepare evening meals, and feast on traditional hilltribe cuisine
  • Start and finish in the temple-studded city of Chiang Mai, making this short break adventure an easy add-on to a Northern Thailand journey


This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2014 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand. 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. Today is an arrival day and you can arrive at any time before the welcome meeting tonight at 6pm. An airport arrival transfer is included. This transfer is only valid if arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-trip accommodation through Intrepid. Please provide your arrival details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 15 days prior to travel to organise this. There are so many things to do here – spectacular temples, delicious food, an enormous night market, a picturesque river-front and fantastic shopping, so perhaps arrive a few days early. Chiang Mai is a great place to hire a bicycle, sign up for a Thai cooking class, or loosen those muscles with some traditional Thai massage. After the welcome meeting your evening is free to explore the city as you please. Your local guide will meet you again tomorrow morning.

Notes: The trekking route is not fixed and may change due to weather and local conditions. Please bear this is mind.
This morning around 8:45am, leave Chiang Mai with your local guide by songthaew and head north (approximately 3 hours). At Mae Malai market stock up on snacks and water for the trek, then continue on to Chiang Dao Caves. Explore a set of five interconnected caves, thought to expand more than 12 kilometres into Doi Chiang Dao Mountain. The caves are among the most extensive in the county and are a popular pilgrimage spot for both monks and ordinary Thais. Tham Phra Nawn and Tham Seua Da are illuminated by electric lights and contain hermit images, a reclining Buddha, and stunning stalagmite and stalactite rock formations. Have lunch at a local restaurant near the cave entrance, then take a short drive to an Aha village called Baan Huay Go, the start of the trek. The first 2.5-3 hours of the trek is along an easy undulating path, through agricultural farmland and fields of corn. Cross through bamboo forest, surrounded by a beautiful landscape of limestone mountains. You’ll then arrive at this evening’s destination, a Palong (though they perefer the term Dara Ang) village called Baan Pang Daeng Nai. Around 58 families live in this self-sufficient economic village, strongly Buddhist people who migrated to Thailand in the early 1980s. Enjoy dinner cooked by your host, then take a walk around the village to interact with the locals, perhaps checking out the local naturally dyed clothes. You’ll stay in a bamboo stilt house, surrounded by an organic vegetable farm, with shared facilities. Conditions are basic, but this is a truly unforgettable Intrepid experience!
Wake up to the sounds of roosters and pigs, fuel up on breakfast around 8:30am, then maybe chat with local women and see the handicrafts that they sell, perhaps choosing to purchase some – spending your money on community enterprises directly can help support community development. Farewell your hosts and begin today's walk, which will take around 4-5 hours. Make your way through agricultural land, jungle, and then climb a hill through bamboo forest to reach a lookout (approximately 2.5 hours). Enjoy a quick rest and admire the view across the beautiful scene of Chiang Dao below. Descend for around 45 minutes, and then make friends with some elephants at a local camp as you set up for lunch. Enjoy noodles, vegetables, and fruit – maybe using some chopsticks that a porter has shaped from bamboo along the way. After lunch, continue your trek for another hour to the Dara-Ang (Palong) Village of Baan Pang Hor, your base for the night. Relax and rest your legs, then explore the village on a walk. There are around 120 Buddhist families in the village, which has a primary school and a temple, and tonight you’ll enjoy a cultural treat – a dancing show (Palong dance) by the local children.
Enjoy a natural animal wakeup call around 8am this morning, try and chat with the locals and discover more about their culture, then get some fuel – maybe pancakes or French toast! – on-board for today’s walk. Then it’s the start of your last day of trekking, and an easy walk to finish it off. Spot the local agricultural practices as you trek through farmland for the last 2 hours of the trek, before meeting your driver at the village of Baan Pang Dang Nok. Drive 40 minutes before stopping for lunch, then continue back to Chiang Mai (approximately 2 hours), arriving around 3pm and checking into your accommodation. The rest of the day is free to relax and explore the city. Maybe take a scenic, winding drive up a mountain (around 45 minutes) to one of the country's most stunning temple complexes, Doi Suthep. A 300-step naga-guarded stairway leads you to the temples, and the climb is well worth the effort. The hypnotic atmosphere of chanting Buddhist monks and sweeping views of the city make this a most memorable experience. Maybe head out for a final celebratory meal as this Hilltribe Experience comes to an end.
This adventure comes to an end today. There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. A transfer to the airport for your departure flight from Chiang Mai is included.
View trip notes to read full itinerary


4 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners
Hotel (2 nights), Mountain hut (2 nights)
Included activities
  • Hilltribe village visit
  • Hilltribe - 3 days trek
  • Chiang Dao Cave visit
  • Hilltribe Cultural Dancing show


There are currently no departures for this trip.

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Important notes

Complimentary airport arrival and departure transfers are included with this trip. Please advise your flight details at time of booking.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide 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.

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