Whether you’re inclined to trek through the jungle, cruise around the countryside, or simply relax by a café, you wont have trouble enjoying your time in Northern Thailand. Indeed, it’s easy to see why the North holds such tremendous appeal for casual backpackers and nature-enthusiasts alike. Many find it a welcome break from the hustle-and-bustle, party-centric South. But don’t worry, it’s still easy to meet plenty of fellow travelers and friendly locals. Here’s a list of the top 10 adventures in and around two of the North’s most notable cities; Chiang Mai and Pai.
1) Trek through the wild
Although the relaxed vibe of Chiang Mai can be enticing, don’t neglect to venture outside of the city. The stunning scenery is one of the main draws of the area. Treks range from nature hikes, to wildlife exhibits, to tours of indigenous tribes. Although some travelers prefer to go it alone, it’s often worth it to book an excursion. Indeed, you might just find your tour guides’ insight to be indispensable. Bookings can be made through your hostel or a local travel agency.
2) Explore Buddhist temples
Chiang Mai is home to several major Buddhist temples, many of which are located within the city walls (Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang being the most frequented). There are also noteworthy temples located outside of the city, including Doi Suthep. Take note of temple etiquette—visitors must dress appropriately (no shorts or low-cut shirts). Taking pictures of Buddha is also forbidden.
3) Enroll in a Thai cooking course
Chiang Mai is a fantastic place to take a cooking course. Most courses include a trip to the local produce market, presenting a great opportunity to learn about indigenous fruits and vegetables. You’ll pick up new culinary skills, and maybe even some new friends!
4) Browse the selection at local markets
Both Chiang Mai and Pai house markets displaying a variety of locally produced textiles, jewelry, and handicrafts. It’s a wonderful opportunity to purchase authentic souvenirs for friends and family members. Don’t be afraid to barter, but note that prices will be considerably higher during tourist season (November trough February).
5) Cruise Around Pai
The sleepy hippy town of Pai is perhaps best known for it’s gorgeous surrounding scenery. Motorbikes can be rented in town for a reasonable price. With the assistance of a map the area is generally easy to navigate. Still, it’s important to use caution. For those less inclined to rent a motorbike, bicycles can also be rented.