The active eight-day tour is perfect for moderate hikers who are interested in northern Thailand's epic landscapes. Starting with a summit above Chiang Mai, you and your guide will accomplish a number of trails in national parks, forests, and rice fields while staying in unique towns near the Burmese and Laotian borders. Of course, there will be plenty of time to absorb Thai culture along the way, from visiting monks and hill tribes to dining on fresh red curry at the night markets.


  • Visit a Hmong Village and a sacred Buddhist temple during your first hike
  • Summit Thailand's third highest peak (or take an easier path in the foothills)
  • Boat along the Mae Kok River to get to Chiang Rai while looking for elephants
  • Haggle for souvenirs and dine on fresh street food at the night markets

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Chiang Mai, Explore Chiang Mai
Day 2 Hike Doi Suthep Mountain, Transfer to Chiang Dao Chiang Dao
Day 3 Hike Chiang Dao Mountain Fang
Day 4 Walk Along the Mae Kok River Thaton
Day 5 Visit the Monks of Wat Thaton, Boat to Chiang Rai Chiang Rai
Day 6 Hike from Phu Chi Dao to Phu Chi Fa Chiang Kham
Day 7 Hike Phu Langka Mountain  Chiang Mai
Day 8 Explore Chiang Khan, Transfer to Chiang Mai, Depart   

Day 1: Arrive in Chiang Mai, Explore

Uncrowded Wat Srisuphan is one of the few silver temples in Thailand

Welcome to northern Thailand! Upon landing in Chiang Mai, you'll meet your guide at the airport and travel through the bustling streets to your hotel. Thailand's mountainous northern hub was once the ancient capital of the Lanna Kingdom and offers both historical and modern attractions. If you arrive in the morning, head over to the magnificent Wat Srisuphan, also known as the Silver Temple, located in the city's old silversmith district. It's one of the few silver temples in Thailand and tends to be relatively uncrowded.

Tonight you can try a traditional northern-style restaurant. Northern Thai cuisine is generally less spicy than what you'll find in southern Thailand and often has more complex flavors. After dinner, wander around the famous Night Bazaar, where you'll find everything from tchotchkes and video games to purses and clothes. Don't forget to haggle! Vendors expect it, and bargaining is all part of the fun of the night market.

Day 2: Hike Doi Suthep Mountain, Transfer to Chiang Dai

The entrance to Wat Doi Suthep, one of Thailand's most sacred temples

After breakfast, your guide will drive you to Doi Suthep Mountain just outside of Chiang Mai for the first hike of the trip. This is an easy 5-mile (8 km), three-hour trek with rolling terrain along a ridge covered in pine trees and wild lilies. Halfway up the mountain, you'll take a breather at a local Hmong village and sample locally-grown coffee. 

Then, trek downhill to reach the ruins of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, one of northern Thailand's most sacred temples dating back to the 13th century. Still a working monastery, the Wat overlooks the city and is said to protect the people of Chiang Mai.

After lunch, you'll drive to the town of Chiang Dao for your overnight, set in the lush jungle below a massive limestone mountain. Here you'll find a relaxed vibe with hot springs, artists' workshops, great food options, and a popular cave with Buddhist shrines. Take the rest of the day to explore on your own!

Day 3: Hike Chiang Dao Mountain

Doi Ching Dao Mountain
Challenge yourself to climb one of Thailand's highest peaks: Doi Ching Dao Mountain 

Today is your chance to climb the third-highest peak in Thailand! After breakfast, you'll travel with your guide to the trailhead of Doi Chiang Dao. The mountain is a popular destination for birdwatchers, but the star feature of this 8.7-mile (14 km) trek is the unfettered 360-degree view of surrounding peaks from the summit.

This full-day option is not for the faint of heart: It includes some steep inclines and a fair amount of scree (small loose stones), and you'll need to hike over a rock outcropping in some spots to eventually reach an elevation of 3,600 feet (1,100 m). You'll descend on the same trail. If you prefer a less challenging excursion, ask your guide to take you through the bamboo forest in the foothills of Doi Chiang Dao.

In the late afternoon, you'll travel to the town of Fang, situated in a valley near Thailand's northern border with Burma. Though Fang has become a modernized hub for the district of the same name, you can still find original wooden architecture and a range of temples. Take some time to wander around the streets and pick a spot for dinner. 

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Day 4: Walk Along the Mae Kok River

Star the day with an easy walk along rice paddies near Thaton village

After breakfast, you'll drive up to the villages outside of Thaton, the northernmost town in Chiang Mai province. Take it easy today with a flat, 3.7-mile (6 km) walk through the rice paddies on the banks of the Mae Kok River.

From here you'll head to your hotel in the area. Relax by the pool or the river, pamper yourself with a Thai massage, or sign up for a cooking class in Thaton. Tonight, dinner is up to you—indulge in room service, try the hotel restaurant, or venture out to one of the nearby establishments in Thaton.

Day 5: Visit the Monks of Wat Thaton, Boat to Chiang Rai

Transfer to Chiang Rai along the Mae Kok River

Rise and shine! Today you'll wake at dawn to make an offering to the monks of Wat Thaton before hiking 1.3 miles (2 km) up the hillside to watch a spectacular sunrise from their temple.

After breakfast at your hotel, set sail down the Mae Kok River to the city of Chiang Rai in a traditional long-tail boat. Relax as you take in the mountain scenery and catch a unique glimpse of village life along the river—you might even spot elephants bathing! You'll dock a short drive from your hotel in Chiang Rai. In the evening, explore the night market downtown, where you'll find everything from free cultural performances to delicious street food.

Day 6: Hike from Phu Chi Dao to Phu Chi Fa

Views from today's ascent, situated between Thailand and Laos

Today you'll be joined by a local Hmong guide as you trek from the Hmong village of Phu Chi Dao to Phu Chi Fa along the escarpment that separates Thailand and Laos. The 5.5-mile (9 km) trek covers up-and-down terrain and will take a total of about four hours. You'll hike to a viewing point at an elevation of 2,300 feet (700 m), where you'll stop to eat a packed lunch and take in the dramatic views of neighboring peaks and the valley below.

You'll then travel to Chiang Kham, where you'll spend the next two nights in a hotel set among large rice paddies. For a change of pace, try some Middle Eastern fare in the hotel restaurant, made with organic produce grown on the property.

Day 7: Hike Phu Langka Mountain 

Enjoy the stunning valley views below Phu Langka Mountain

Today you'll venture further into the mountains between Thailand and Laos. This area of the provinces of Phayao and Nan is seldom visited by foreign travelers and is home to the Yao and Hmong people—minority ethnic groups that make up two of Thailand's seven main hill tribes. Many still live in traditional stilt wooden homes high up in the hills.

After driving to the trailhead, you'll conquer Phu Langka Mountain, one of Thailand's lesser-known peaks, and take in stunning vistas of the fog-carpeted valley. You'll climb to an elevation of 2,600 feet (800 m) on this 3.5-mile (5.5 km) trek, which takes about four hours. Enjoy lunch at the summit overlooking the forests and limestone outcrops of the rural landscape below. In the afternoon, descend the trail and return to your hotel in Chiang Kham.

Day 8: Explore Chiang Kham, Transfer to Chiang Mai, Depart 

Your guided tour culminates in the charming town of Chiang Kham

It's time to say goodbye to northern Thailand! Take the morning to explore Chiang Kham's charming shops and food stalls before departure. You can also explore the nearby ride paddies along the Laotian border if time allows. At the appropriate hour, you'll transfer back to Chiang Mai for your departure. Safe travels! 

More Great Thailand Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Thailand? Check out these other Thailand itineraries, explore different ways to spend eight days in Thailand, or discover the best time to visit Thailand.


Map of Climb the Peaks of Northern Thailand - 8 Days
Map of Climb the Peaks of Northern Thailand - 8 Days