Chiang Mai: Trekking the Historic Opium Trail on Doi Suthep

Price per person in THB
2 persons3 persons4 persons5 persons6 persons7 persons8 persons
3,800  2,700  2,100  1,800  1,600  1,500  1,300
Difficulty
80%

This private one-day tour takes you from Doi Pui Hmong village to Ban Mae Sa Mai, another Hmong village. Our purpose is to inform you about the lifestyle, history, and culture of the Hmong people. By visiting the village you support the preservation of their culture and support villagers who act as a local guides. By hiking through their forest we try to raise awareness of the importance of the forest which is their watershed. You will also support Doi Pui-Doi Suthep National Park, a protected area. We try to communicate the diversity of the natural world and the healing effect of being in nature. We appreciate the efforts of the Hmong people to preserve this forest. We consider this one of our Chiang Mai jungle trekking and forest bathing tours.

Total driving time: two and a half hours

From: 3,800.00 ฿

SKU: BBTT08 Category: Tags: ,
people hiking through the forest
Tourist hiking in Doi Suthep-Pui National Park

Great trekking on Doi Suthep

Wat Doi Suthep, the Temple on the Mountain

Our guide and driver will meet you at the hotel at 0800 for your “Trekking the Historic Opium Trail”. We will drive to Doi Suthep, the mountain dominating the landscape around Chiang Mai. “Doi” means “mountain” in the Northern Thai language. Doi Suthep and Doi Pui are the two peaks in the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. This fantastic national park is also part of the core area of the Chiang Mai UNESCO World Heritage project. We recommend you turn off your phone and enjoy your digital detox today. First, we will visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, arguably the most famous temple of Chiang Mai, before the crowds arrive. Walk up the 300 steps up to the temple from where you have a majestic view over Chiang Mai.

Visit to Doi Pui Hmong Village

We continue to Doi Pui Village, a Hmong community, close to the top of Doi Pui. Most people here don’t wear their spectacular traditional dress on a daily basis but you will see some of it. Your guide will tell you about the turbulent history of the Hmong communities. In the past, the Hmong villages on Doi Suthep were involved in opium cultivation. Nowadays the Hmong village Doi Pui is a major tourist attraction on Doi Suthep. We will walk around the village before we meet our local Hmong guide who will accompany us on our hike to another Hmong community Baan Mae Sa Mai in the Mae Sa Valley.

Wat Doi Suthep golden chedi at night Doi Suthep Adventure
The chedi of Wat Doi Suthep after dark.

Trekking with Local Hmong Guide

This hike through Doi Suthep-Doi Pui National park will take about 5-6 hours, including many stops to take pictures and enjoy the forest and views. The trail goes up and down but is never steep. Our Hmong guide will share his knowledge of the woods with us and will tell stories of the past. Both Hmong villages were located at a higher elevation until the Thai government forced them to move to their current location.

In the late 1960s the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IV, initiated a development program, known as The Royal Project, to alleviate poverty in the villages of the ethnic minorities. One of the aims was to eradicate the widespread opium cultivation and offer the minorities alternative cash crops. During our trek, we pass former opium fields and also fields of cabbage, bell pepper, and other alternative crops. The Hmong people on Doi Suthep are very grateful to their late king.

Forest Restoration on Doi Suthep

After a walk uphill we will arrive at an open area with fantastic views on both sides of the mountain. We will stop briefly to look at a footprint of Buddha before enjoying a picnic lunch at a scenic spot. We will continue through agricultural fields and the forest to the Baan Mae Sa Mai. During the walk, we will try to teach you a couple of words in the Hmong language: “Ngo shong” is the Hmong greeting. This village is the largest Hmong community in Northern Thailand and gets very few visitors, a marked contrast with Doi Pui Village.

At the small Hmong museum we will show you some of the amazing Hmong traditional dress. You can dress in these beautiful garments, if you wish, and be a “Hmong for a minute”. You will learn about an exciting project of FORRU, the forest restoration unit of Chiang Mai University. Over the past twenty years, the Baan Mae Sa Mai has worked with this institute to restore as much as possible the original forest on denuded, former poppy fields. Drive back to Chiang Mai. Your guide will drop you off at the hotel. Here your Doi Suthep trekking ends.

We also offer a two-day program to Baan Mae Sa Mai as well as an educational tour for schools and universities.

Hmong textiles sleeve Ban Mae Sa Mai
Hmong textiles sleeve

 

Highlights

Comfortable private transportation

Medium trekking, suitable for people with a normal fitness level

Wat Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai’s most famous temple

Doi Pui Hmong village

Beautiful forest of Doi Pui-Doi Suthep National Park

Hmong tribal culture

Royal agricultural project

Majestic views

Hmong village Ban Mae Sa Mai

Interesting history of opium cultivation and substitution by cash crops

Forest restoration

Inclusions

What is included?

English speaking guide
Transportation by AC minibus
Local Hmong guide
Thai picnic lunch
Drinking water during meals
Entrance fees
Limited medical insurance

What is not included?

Other drinks except for water during meals
Personal expenses
Tips

Timeline

08.00 – Departure from the hotel
09.00 – Visit the Doi Suthep temple
09.30 – Drive to Doi Pui village
09.45 – arrive and visit the village
10.00 – start hiking for 5-6 hours
12.00 – Picnic lunch on the way
12.30 – Continue hiking
15.30 – Arrive at Baan Mae Sa Mai, relax and visit the village
16.00 – drive back to Chiang Mai
17.30 – drop off at the hotel

What to bring

Long sleeves/Jacket during wintertime (Nov – March)
Hiking shoes with good grip
Sunscreen
Hat or cap
Insect repellent
Sunglasses
Raincoat
Small backpack