Amid the rice paddies and the elephant-studded jungle, northern Thailand is a region of cultural treasures and evocative tales. You will be in a land of mystique, where monks wander the streets and ancient ruins stretch across dusty plains. In this part of the world, you are immersed in the culture, as exemplified on this 7-day Thailand tour. With nights spent in Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, and Bangkok, you will discover traditions and histories with local encounters and incredible personalized experiences.
Chiang Mai – Easing Into the Cultural Experience
Your plane will swoop across the mountains and the jungle as the city of Chiang Mai slowly comes into view. Surrounded by green and tucked between mountain folds, this old city was cut off from the world for most of its history. Only by elephant back or tortuous upriver cruising could you reach it, meaning Chiang Mai was saved from the Burmese and Angkor raids that devastated cities like Sukhothai and Ayutthaya. It was only in the 1920s that Europeans made it here, but small hill tribes have always used Chiang Mai as a trading post, giving the city an ethnically diverse flavor. You will see many different faces and clothes along the streets, a testament to Chiang Mai’s continued domain as Thailand’s cultural hub.
You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to your hotel that is within the old city walls. Most of the surrounding area is pedestrianized, characterized by narrow cobblestone lanes, small shops and cafes, and the odd, intriguing temple. The city is a quiet place for easing into the Thai experience, with monks on the streets and many cafe corners for watching the world go by. Your guide will take you to Doi Suthep this evening. Walk up a few hundred steps, see the spinning prayer wheels and listen to chiming bells as you go. Sunset is magical up here, especially as pilgrims help create a spiritual atmosphere.
Chiang Mai – Exploring Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle
Chiang Mai – Buddhist Temples, Night Markets and Meeting the Monks
Sukhothai – A Day Visiting Traditional Hill Tribes
Sukhothai – Sublime Highlights of the Ancient Capital
Bangkok – An Ancient Legacy and an Afternoon on the River
Bangkok – Visiting Ayutthaya and Late-Evening Departure
- Immerse yourself in the ancient capital of Sukhothai, where temples and chedi suggest glorious past centuries
- Meet with a monk in an incense-filled Chiang Mai temple
- Explore the highlights of Bangkok, including the Emerald Buddha and the enormous Buddha inside Wat Po
- Cruise around the old Siam capital of Ayutthaya to take in the redolent central streets and the royal enclosures
- Gasp at Chalermchai Kositpipat’s White Temple, the most unconventional structure in Southeast Asia
- Spend a day with remote hill tribes, comparing traditions and legacies
- Ride a hot air balloon above Chiang Mai and watch the sun go down from Doi Suthep
- Explore the Golden Triangle, a beautiful slither of land between three distinct countries
Thailand can bring two very different experiences for visitors, as so much depends on where you land. The southern region is predominantly islands and beaches with nature abounding and plenty of space for lazy days spent on the sand. It is in the north that you will find culture and history, the remains of the great Siam kingdom and the traditions kept alive by hill tribes and villagers. With only seven days in Thailand, there is so much more you can experience in the north. In one week you can connect disparate cultures, explore ancient cities, interact with monks and convivial locals, and still get to experience the bounty of Southeast Asia’s nature. There are legacies to uncover here, and this 7-day tour covers the best of them, taking you on a one-way journey from Chiang Mai to Bangkok.
It is the diversity of experience that makes the north so different from the south. Lanterns illuminate stalls at bustling night markets as aromas of incense greet you at a 15th-century temple. Cracked chedi, or Siam stupas, stand guard to ruined temple remains as great cities stand abandoned on dusty plains, surrounded by forest. Local life unfolds around canal and river banks, and deep in the hills, you will meet with small tribal communities, each different to the next. All of this will be wrapped up in energy and positivity so ubiquitous across Thailand. You will not just experience what is traditional as you will also experience histories that are continuing to shape modern culture.
This handcrafted tour connects most of northern Thailand’s main highlights. A one-way journey is best as it helps to maximize the short time you have. There is a new flight route from Sukhothai to Bangkok, which then saves another half day of traveling. Seven days naturally necessitates a fast-moving private tour yet your destinations are not the fast-paced type. They are laid-back, almost serene, bringing leisurely evenings to catch your breath and relax amid local scenes. Handpicked hotels accentuate this atmosphere with a connection to heritage, placing you central to all the old stories while maintaining a strong sense of contemporary comfort.
You will begin your handcrafted tour in Chiang Mai at a hotel within the old city walls. Ease into the cultural experience at Doi Suthep, where pilgrims and locals alike watch the sun go down over the distant jungle. Spend the next day in the far north, Chalermchai Kositpipat’s White Temple the most memorable of all Asia’s temples, and a perfect stopping point on the route to Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle. Your third day will be focused on Chiang Mai, with its historical temples, atmospheric night market, and a very personal encounter with a robed monk.
Hill tribes dot the surrounding landscape, and you will visit three different communities on the road to Lampang. Although accustomed to visitors, these villages preserve a number of unusual traditions with each tribe having its own distinguishing feature. Lampang is just as eye-opening, the central 15th-century temple covered in murals and a second temple memorable for its emerald Buddha. This is a busy fourth day, and you will roll into Sukhothai around dusk, staying at a hotel that overlooks the World Heritage area with silhouetted chedi as an inspiring first sight.
The next day will be dedicated to the old capital city, tracing three years of early Middle Ages history from ruined Buddhist temples to a royal palace and streets of sun-scorched rock. There are options to explore on foot or by bicycle, and it is best to have a full day as there is a lot to see. Take the direct flight to Bangkok, and you will get most of your morning to visit the capital’s major sights, including the Royal Palace and Wat Po. Then put your feet up during the afternoon, drifting down Bangkok’s canals and waterways, following the lifestyle of locals. Your final day will be spent in Ayutthaya, another ruined capital packed with surprises. Late check-out has been arranged so you can refresh before your international departure. Consider reading some of our travelers’ Thailand tour reviews for more ideas to perfect your dream Thailand vacation.
$1,997 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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