On The Way Up To Chiang Mai: Things To See And Do

In part one of building a Thailand itinerary, we looked at building it in your general interest areas. We talked about designing the trip for meaning. See tip 2 on this post to return to part 1.

We used an example of someone wanting to put together a trip built around their love for good Thai food and indulgent spa treatments. On the learning side of things, (if learning a new skill is on your list of things to do), then we thought maybe a cookery course or Thai massage course.

We selected the area of Chiang Mai for theses activities. However before getting in to our general interest subjects (part 3), we must first get to Chiang Mai. Part 2 is about making the most of your trip to Chiang Mai and taking in the sights, culture, history and other wonderful places en route to Chiang Mai. Not only would you have enjoyed your passions and be on your way to learning a new skill, but you will have seen and soaked up so much of Thailand as well.

1) The sights of Bangkok

Make sure you allow yourself at least 3 days taking in the sights, smells and sounds of the capital city Bangkok. I personally love Bangkok and enjoy exploring the magical city. There is absolutely masses of things to see and do and I have referred to a few in the post below ” Bangkok A 5 Day Itinerary”. It takes you through a few ”must see and do” things.


Wat Pho or Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimonmangkhalaram Temple Bangkok

2) Travel By Mini-Bus Up North

As I previously mentioned in part one, a lot of people will fly direct to Chiang Mai to get rid of the long over land trip, but not me. I like to use the time wisely in another way by visiting a few other places en route. For me this includes the best of both worlds. I am able to take in the sights and experience the culture on the way up north and able to enjoy my niche visit when I get to Chiang Mai.

Part One. https://engagingthailandtips.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/10-ways-to-build-your-thailand-holiday-itinerary-with-meaning/

So how do you travel? One of the best ways I have found is by Mini-Bus. If there are a few of you then all you need to do is muck in together to pay the daily rate and day’s fuel. This is going back a couple of years now, but a group of us used to pay 1500 Baht for the day’s hire and 1000 Baht on average per day fuel. This may well have increased now. However, if there are 6 0r 7 of you and with increases you are still only going to pay about 500 baht all in. Furthermore you have the added bonus of freedom and convenient travel. The key is you will be able to stop as and when you like. Good deal I would say.

Very convenient travel and on your terms

3) The Importance Of Having A Thai Person On Board

The most helpful thing here would be if one of the members of the Mini-Bus party is Thai and speaks good English. It’s more than likely that they would know or would have had the Mini-Bus  driver referred to them by a relative. This now acts as two-fold as not only have you got a trustworthy driver, but the language barrier has just been smashed as well. Now communication lines are in good order and the driver has someone to talk with in his or her own language. Convenience and happiness for all concerned.

4) Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi is a lovely town albeit slightly off track. If you have time though going off route slightly will be well worth it. There are plenty of things to do in and around Kanchanaburi to keep you occupied besides the bridge over the river kwai. There is elephant riding in the forest at Kwai Noi river , bathing with elephants, a monkey school and the Safari park.

I actually love the town of Kanchanaburi itself. It has great characters in the form of lots of food vendor personalities all selling their specialty food products.

One of my favourite vendors is literally just outside the main bus station. This vendor sells ” Nam Da Huu”  or warm soya bean milk and Chinese doughnuts stop. I love this stuff it is absolutely delicious, but the doughnuts are very much an in moderation thing for me. Besides the soya bean milk you can also have ” Nam Da Huay” a very healthy Ginger drink great for the aid of digestion. One of these treats will set you back about 12 baht about 25 pence and you can even sit at a roadside table to have it.

Just outside of Kanchanaburi is ” The Tiger Temple”, don’t wear red, pink, orange or yellow and ladies must wear a shirt to cover shoulders and also wear long trousers in order to visit the temple.

Bridge Over The River Kwai

5) Ayutthaya

From Kanchanaburi head to Ayutthaya. You are now back on track.

Ayutthaya is a very historical area and was even the capital of Thailand for about 417 years. Many fascinating temples here such as Wat Phanacherng; Wat Na Phra Men, Wat Yai Chaimongkhol and Wat Mongkholborphit.  The place you should also not miss when visiting Ayutthaya is Bang Pa-in Summer Palace of King Rama the IV and the V.

In Ayutthaya, you will find many interesting places to go, including the Portuguese Community which is an archaeological site. The Japanese village. The Ayutthaya floating market which also has traditional Thai dancers performing  every day and you can find nice local food at very reasonable prices..

6) Sukhothai

You are now  ready to hit the road to Sukhothai. Sukhothai was the first kingdom of Siam and established some 800 years ago. The name Sukhothai literally means ”dawn of happiness”. Sukhothai is famous for its ancient ruins. With all temples and monuments having been restored the whole site is of massive historic interest.

The site covers a rather large area so it’s a great idea to rent some transport. Kill two birds with one stone by renting a bicycle. Then you can not only get around easier, but have good exercise as well. Another win-win situation.

7) Lampang and Lamphun

In Lampang you have the opportunity to visit a fantastic Elephant conservation, take a ride on the wonderful creature, see how the mahoots build a relationship with the elephant and how the elephants are cared for at the conservation. Whilst in Lampang a visit would not be complete without a horse and cart ride around the town. You are taken on quite an enjoyable trek by horse and cart and it’s a great way to see Lampang. Very relaxing.

Make time for a visit to Lamphun whether on the way up or on the way back. Travel is just a few kilometers from Chiang Mai to Lamphun before being availed to ambience, temple ruins and a relatively untouched town. Read all about Lamphun at the link below.


Horse & Cart Ride In Lampang

Now you have reached Chiang Mai here is a brief guide on other places to visit in the north. If you have about 17 days to spare you can visit all these places listed throughout the post comfortably and still have plenty of time to pursue your passions.

8) Chiang Mai

We are going to look at Chiang Mai in more depth from a niche visit angle in the next post. However from a cultural and nature angle, a visit to Doi Inthanon Thailand’s highest mountain is a must. The park is 1,005 square kilometers and is part of a mountain range that stretches across Neapl, Bhutan, Myanmar and northern Thailand.Fantastic waterfalls, dense forest and wild birds and plenty of great picnic areas.In the afternoon  continue

Doi Inthanon

9) Chiang Rai

So much to visit in Chiang Rai. Certainly visit Phu Chi Fa a mountain in the Chiang Rai province (chi means point in Thai) this is best viewed very early in the morning to see the sunrise. Below, the valley is covered with a blanket of fog, but as the fog lifts you can see both the Maekhong River and way in to Laos.

Travel on to Doi Tung National Park a development project in Chiang Rai conceived and started by the Princes Mother in 1987. The princess Mother began the process of reforestation of Doi Tung.The Princes Mother passed away in July 1995 at the age of 95, but her work and the project still successfully continues. You should try to get down to the beautiful area of Doi Tung.

Doi Tung

10) If time Mae Hong Son

Take a riverboat tour to the karen hill tribe village. These people are a Burmese people and are better known as the long-necked karen as they extend their necks using brass rings. The scenery en route is absolutely fantastic amongst a mountainous background as you continue to explore the beautiful province of mae hong son. The area really is quite stunning and worth making time for. If you can take the trip a stage further then check out neighbouring Pai as well. Nature at it’s best.

The Fog Sea Pai – Northern Thailand

Next time we will look at building your Chiang Mai based niche itinerary.


For more information on Thailand


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