Escape to the cool mountains of northern Thailand on this five-day introduction to Chiang Mai. Tour historic temples to discover some of the country's most important and sacred sites, then head to the market to sample the flavorful local cuisine. You'll also have time to venture out of the city, where you'll meet local hill tribes as you explore lush rice fields, traditional villages, and orchid farms.

Highlights

  • Explore some of Thailand's most important Buddhist temples 
  • Visit bustling markets to shop for food and souvenirs
  • Gaze at orchids and butterflies at a mountain farm
  • Meet Chiang Mai's local hill tribes selling their wares

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Chiang Mai Chiang Mai
Day 2 Chiang Mai City & Temple Tour Chiang Mai
Day 3 Merit Making at Doi Suthep Chiang Mai
Day 4 Day Trip to Baan Hui Parai Hill Tribe Village & Orchid Farm Chiang Mai
Day 5 Depart Chiang Mai  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Chiang Mai

Arrival Chiang Mai
Tea fields around Chiang Mai at twilight

Welcome to Thailand! After you've gotten your bearings and collected your baggage, a private English-speaking driver will be waiting to escort you to your accommodations in Chiang Mai. Considered the country's cultural capital, the northern city of Chiang Mai is famed for its cooler climate, mountainous landscape, and laid-back vibe. Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring at your own pace—heading to the charming Old Town or taking a stroll past the area's remarkable selection of temples. 

For a spectacular sunset, hop in a cab to the hillside temple Doi Suthep, where you can climb its iconic 306-step staircase—flanked by carved sea serpents and thick forest—to elaborate grounds with an enormous golden chedi (stupa) and sweeping views. Tonight, follow the irresistible aromas of street food stalls and restaurants where you can try out the ultimate local dish, khao soi (coconut curry soup), and other northern Thai specialties.

Day 2: Chiang Mai City & Temple Tour

Golden Buddhas at Wat Chedi Luang

Today you'll visit and explore several of Chiang Mai's most revered temples. All were constructed during the Lanna period (from the 13th to 18th centuries), and each reflects the glory, splendor, and nobility of a rich historical era.

In the center of the city lies the grand Wat Phra Singh, first built during the reign of Phra Chao Kham Fu, where you'll find intricate gilded architecture and one of Thailand's most sacred images of the Buddha. Lying in the city's heart is Wat Chedi Luang, famous for its soaring 15th-century chedi surrounded by elephant statues. Last but not least is the ancient Wat Chiang Man. Lying in the northern part of the old walled city, it's the oldest temple in Chiang Mai and is said to predate the city itself.

After a morning at the temples, you'll join your guide for a drive around the old city to see the moat surrounding it and the ruins of the city gates. Then visit Worarot Market, the town's largest central marketplace that comes alive with its daily hustle and bustle. Here you'll find exotic fresh fruits, preserved food, local delicacies, clothes galore, flowers, and other knick-knacks, all at reasonable prices.

Day 3: Merit Making at Doi Suthep

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
The golden pagoda of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Today is devoted to exploring the 14th-century Wat Prathat Doi Suthep. Chiang Mai's most famous and important temple contains a holy relic of the Lord Buddha, enshrined in the magnificent golden pagoda that can be seen for miles. 

Your tour begins with a pleasant, winding drive 3,500 ft (1,066 m) above sea level to the sacred temple of Doi Suthep. Make an offering to the local monks (making merit for good karma), then ascend the 306 steps to the temple gateway, guarded by two splendid nagas (serpents). As you stroll the temple grounds, you'll pass golden pillars, six-foot gongs, and rows of bells and take in stunning panoramic views of the city and the surrounding countryside.

Day 4: Day Trip to Baan Hui Parai Hill Tribe Village & Orchid Farm

Akha women of Chiang Mai in traditional dress

This morning's excursion takes you on a scenic trip to the northern part of Chiang Mai. Arrive at the hill tribe village of Baan Hui Parai, where you can walk along a narrow lane through the rice field and meet members of the local hill tribes in traditional dress selling their wares. 

After spending time in the village, transfer to a local orchid and butterfly farm to admire rare orchid blooms in a dazzling array of colors while exotic butterflies flutter around you. In the afternoon, you'll head back to Chiang Mai to enjoy the last night of your trip at your leisure.

Day 5: Depart Chiang Mai

Buddha statue in Chiang Mai at sunset

It is time to say goodbye to the mountain paradise of Chiang Mai. In the morning, you'll be transferred from your hotel to Chiang Mai International Airport for your departing flight. Safe travels!

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Map

Map of Discover Northern Thailand: Highlights of Chiang Mai - 5 Days
Map of Discover Northern Thailand: Highlights of Chiang Mai - 5 Days