Looking for a new and less visited destination for an adventure? The lure of Thailand for many travelers is its wide variety of exotic experiences, from fabulous temples to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The smiling, friendly people, tantalising cuisine and fresh fruit everywhere you turn encourages visitors to return time and time again, as well as spread the word amongst their friends looking for the trip of a lifetime.
The northern provinces of Thailand should definitely be included in travelers’ itineraries to balance Bangkok’s urban discoveries and the South’s chillout beaches with unique nature adventures – hill tribes, elephants, rafting, waterfalls, trekking, cycling, and the the ancient Lanna Kingdom cultural heritage. But which of the main three widely different northern destinations is best for you?
Chiang Mai City has long been a popular northern base for visitors to Thailand. The old capital of the Lanna Kingdom is steeped in history and culture from its over 700 year-long past. Chiang Mai is the largest city in the north, double the population of it’s two other neighbours, Chiang Rai and Lampang. It has also developed rapidly over the last few decades to cater to the influx of tourists, providing some world-class hotels, resorts and dining venues. Outdoor activities are plentiful in the surrounding mountains, whether one is after an ethical elephant experience or some river rafting.
Head north for nature at your doorstep
Chiang Rai has been the choice for those who want to get out into nature and deep into ethnic hill tribes. The less developed province offers a lot, from the coffee and tea-growing hills of Doi Mae Salong to the romance of the Golden Triangle. The higher reaches of the Mekong River here provide some of the best cycling routes in Southeast Asia. Elephants and unique artistic temples abound.
Teak towns and remote mountain-top temples
However, it is the picturesque town of Lampang that evokes some strong emotions. It is overlooked by most travelers, which in our mind, adds to its appeal. Established during the Lanna Kingdom, it was always a bit of a backwater compared to the cultural and governing centers of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. It made a name for itself in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when it became a major teak logging and trading center. Louis T. Leonowens (son of Anna from the King and I) made it his home when he set up his teakwood trading business.
The town itself resembles Chiang Mai as it was fifty years ago with large teakwood mansions shaded by ancient trees, spectacular Burmese wooden temples established by the Burmese woodcutters to ask forgiveness from the forest spirits. Two weekend markets alternate on walking streets on either side of the river offering a large selection of authentic northern Thai arts, antiques, crafts and edibles.
The surrounding Lampang province offers fabulous cycling excursions, waterfalls and eclectic mountain-top temples. There may not be as much choice of luxury hotels and restaurants in Lampang as Chiang Mai, but there are still some lovely properties that are more than comfortable and great authentic northern cuisine.
Whatever your interests, Northern Thailand has something to satisfy every travelers desires. Let us customise a great adventure, designed just for you. Inquire with us here!