Day 1 – Chiang Mai arrival
Meals: L D
Your guide and driver will meet you on arrival for your trip, “Experience Essential Chiang Mai.” Transfer to the Eco Resort, where you will spend the night. Check-in. Lunch will be at a local restaurant. After lunch, we will drive up to the Doi Suthep, a 1600-meter-high mountain towering over Chiang Mai, and visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a beautiful temple from which you have a fantastic view over the city. After this, we will continue to the Tai Lue Village of Baan Luang Nua. We will visit local houses where paper and wooden dolls are produced. Then, start a workshop for wooden doll painting, during which you can paint your doll and take it home afterward.
An unforgettable khantoke dinner
After this, we will walk around the village and visit the village wisdom center, where we will experience a typical Tai Lue “Bai Si” welcoming ceremony. After this, enjoy a khantoke dinner with traditional Tai Lue dance and music. You will be able to join the villagers for both dancing and music. After the performance, there will be a briefing on the history of the Tai Lue people. We will participate in a candlelight ceremony before returning to our hotel at about 9 pm.
Overnight at the Eco Resort Chiang Mai/ Shared bunks/dormitory for students & private room for teachers
Day 2 – Chiang Mai – Trekking in Huay Nam Dang National Park
Meals: B L D
Your guide will meet you at the hotel at about 0830. Our two-day hill tribe adventure in Huay Nam Dang National Park, another essential Chiang Mai experience, begins. Board your trekking truck, and we are on our way. Our first stop will be at the market of Mae Malai, where your guide will do his shopping for the coming days. He will take you along and explain the different ingredients he will use for dinner. After this, we will continue to the Mork Fah waterfall, where you can swim and relax. Enjoy a local lunch at a roadside restaurant.
The Pong Deuad Hot Springs
After lunch, we will continue to the Pong Deuad Hot Springs, where we will start trekking. We will walk for about three to four hours through the forest and enjoy magnificent views over the Huay Nam Dang National Park mountains. After arrival in the Karen village where we will spend the night, you can relax, explore the town or learn some Thai cooking by helping your guide prepare the dinner. He can explain to you the herbs and ingredients he uses.
Overnight in the village
After dinner, your guide will take you to one of the village houses, where you will meet some of the villagers. He will tell you about the unique culture and traditions of the Karen people, the largest hill tribe in Thailand. There will be time for questions, and Karen women will show their exquisite traditional clothing.
Accommodation: Homestay in the Karen village (multi-share, basic house with a thin mattress, blanket, and mosquito net, separate houses for boys & girls)
Day 3 –Trekking in Huay Nam Dang National Park – Chiang Mai
Meals: B L D
Early rise and breakfast at the village. After breakfast, we will trek through the forest for about one hour to the rafting camp, where our bamboo rafts await us. Put on your life vest and enjoy a wonderful bamboo raft trip on the jungle-clad Mae Tang River, which will take approximately three hours. We stop along the way at a Lahu village to stretch our legs. The Lahu are another hill tribe, once known as the best hunters of the North.
Great rafting on the Taeng River
We continue our trip through spectacular scenery. Our able hill tribes captain will steer our raft through some exciting rapids. The trip ends at a Shan (Tai Yai) village, where we will have lunch. Then it is time to drive back to Chiang Mai by trekking truck. We will drop you at your hotel at around 5 pm. Dinner this evening will be at a local restaurant.
Accommodation: Eco Resort Chiang Mai/ Shared bunks/dormitory for students & private room for teachers
Day 4 – Chiang Mai – Phuket
Bicycle ride/walking tour and Chiang Mai handicrafts
Meals: B L
Enjoy your last breakfast at the hotel and check out. At 0800, our guide and driver will pick you up at the hotel. We will divide the group into two groups for this morning’s activities. Both Essential Chiang Mai activities take about two hours so that we will finish around 1200.
Activity 1: Bicycle ride
Drive to the start point of the bike ride. After a short safety briefing and bicycle fitting, we start our bike ride. We will pedal through McKean Senior Center, a former leper colony, and you will get to know some more of the daily life of the missionaries who worked here over a hundred years ago. We continue to explore the temple ruins of Wiang Kum Kam, the first capital of Lanna. Our bike ride ends at Wat Chedi Liam with its characteristic stupa.
Activity 2: Historical and temple walking tour, including a silver workshop
Drive to the start point of the walking tour through the old city of Chiang Mai, during which we will visit Wat Chedi Luang, the Chiang Mai Gate Market, and Wat Sri Suphan. Join a workshop at the silver temple Wat Sri Suphan. Learn the technique of Repoussé, a metalworking technique in which a malleable metal is shaped by hammering from the reverse side to create a design in low relief. Chasing or embossing is another technique in which the piece is hammered on the front side, sinking the metal.
We will have our last Chiang Mai lunch in a local restaurant together.
Chiang Mai’s handicrafts
At 1330, we will drive to Bor Sang, a village known for the parasol and umbrella industry. We will visit one of the places where they still traditionally produce colorful parasols and umbrellas by hand. If time allows, we will visit Ban Jang Nak, the House of Many Elephants. It is the atelier and museum of local master woodcarver Phet Viriya, famous for his hand-carved elephant statues. At 1600 we will transfer you to the airport for your flight. We hope you enjoyed your trip “Experience Essential Chiang Mai.”