From the waterfalls of Doi Inthanon to the rice fields of Pai
Day 1: Chiang Mai – Doi Inthanon
Total distance today appr. 200 km, driving time about 3 hours
Your guide and driver will meet you at the hotel for your Doi Inthanon to Pai Adventure. Drive to Chomthong, where we will turn off towards Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand. Doi Inthanon is a national park with excellent nature trails and thundering waterfalls. Our first stop will be the most famous waterfall in the park: the thundering Vachirathan Waterfall.
Mountain trails on Doi Inthanon
From there, we will continue to the summit of the mountain, where we will visit the shrine of King Inthawichayanon (1817-1897), a ruler of Chiang Mai, after who the mountain is named. After that, we will walk the short Angka Nature Trail, a walkway through cloud forests with ferns and mosses you only find at this altitude. Then we will visit the Royal Chedis, constructed in the 1990s in honor of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit. Then it is time for a delicious Thai lunch. After lunch, it is only a short drive to the start of the magnificent Pha Dok Siew Nature Trail. With a local Karen guide, we walk down the thundering Pha Dok Siew Waterfall to the Karen village Ban Mae Klang Luang, famous for its coffee. We will spend the night in a bungalow on the edge of the village.
Day 2: Doi Inthanon – Khun Yuam
Total distance today appr. 200 km, driving time about 4 hours
More great trails
In the dry season (November until March), we will hike the most famous Doi Inthanon National Park trail: the Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail. Along the trail, you have the most beautiful views over the lowlands. In the rainy (green) season, we will hike in the vicinity of the village to a small waterfall and the agricultural fields of the village. Enjoy the fresh morning air and the fantastic natural surroundings. This is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the Doi Inthanon to Pai Adventure.
From Mae Chaem to Khun Yuam
After a last cup of coffee at Somsak’s coffee shop, we will say goodbye to our hosts and descend the mountain towards Mae Chaem, a small town in the middle of corn and rice fields. This town is famous for its Teen Jok textiles, so we will stop at a local weaving center to admire these exquisite textiles. The road from Mae Chaem to Khun Yuam is quiet and scenic. There is no public transportation, and there are few villages. We have enough time for photo stops. Our final destination is the small town of Khun Yuam, which tourists seldom visit. We will spend the night at the Mit Khun Yuam Hotel in Khun Yuam.
Day 3: Khun Yuam – Mae Hong Son
Total distance today appr. 90 km, driving time about 2,5 hours
The World War Two legacy of Khun Yuam
After breakfast, we visit Wat Muai To, the town’s most interesting Shan (Tai Yai) temple. Almost opposite this temple is the Thai-Japanese Memorial Hall. This museum commemorates the presence of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War 2 and focuses on the history of the “Tai Yai” (Shan) of Khun Yuam. Before we leave Khun Yuam, we visit Wat Tor Phae, a Shan temple outside town. The temple is known for its famous Ruby Curtain, but on the temple compound, there is also a small workshop where they handcraft the typical ornaments on the roofs of Shan temples.
The Padaung people of Mae Hong Son
Mae Hong Son is also the home of the Padaung people, aka the Long Neck Karen. They came to Thailand as refugees from their homeland Myanmar in the 1980s. Here they have become tourist attractions, and you can find many negative publications about them. However, we would like you to judge for yourself. It takes a short boat ride on the Pai River to get to their village, Huay Pu Keng. After we meet with the Padaung people, we will drive to Mae Hong Son. Mae Hong Son is a delightful place with incredible Shan-style Buddhist temples. On top of a mountain overlooking Mae Hong Son is Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu. We drive up to enjoy the view of this small town, its airport, and the mountain scenery. The temple is beautiful and worth spending some time with.
We will spend the night in the Ngamta Hotel, Mae Hong Son’s center.
Day 4: Mae Hong Son – Ban Rak Thai – Mae Hong Son
Total distance today appr. 90 km, driving time about 2,5 hours
The Shan temples of Mae Hong Son
After breakfast, we will visit the two interesting temples on the Lake, Wat Jong Kham, and Wat Jong Klang. These temples are significantly different from most temples in North Thailand, and they are Shan-style temples.
A Chinese community on the border
After this, we will drive to Ban Rak Thai, Mae Aw. This is a community of ethnic Chinese descendants of the Kuomintang army that was defeated in Yunnan in 1949 by communist forces. We visit the Pha Sua Waterfall and a bamboo garden on the way. Ban Rak Thai has become a very popular destination for local tourists. There are restaurants, coffee shops, and souvenir shops on the lake dug out in the early 1960s. After arrival, free time to enjoy the lake and the atmosphere. Overnight in Lee Wine Rak Thai Resort, Ban Rak Thai.
Day 5: Mae Hong Son – Pai
Total distance today appr. 140 km, driving time about 3 hours
A bamboo bridge through the ricefields
After breakfast, we continue our Doi Inthanon to Pai Adventure further into the mountains of Mae Hong Son province. Before we reach Mae Hong Son, our first stop will be the Su Tong Pe Bridge, a bamboo walkway that connects a Shan (Tai Yai) village to a temple. It is the longest bamboo bridge in Thailand! The bridge crosses rice fields and has become a popular destination for local tourists. We cross the walkway through the rice fields to the temple.
Tham Lot, a magnificent cave
We continue to Pang Ma Pha, further into the mountains of Pai and Mae Hong Son. During our drive, we will pass several spectacular viewpoints that offer views of rugged mountains in Myanmar. We will visit Tham Lot, aka Lot cave, an impressive limestone cave. We traverse the cave by foot and on rafts and admire the stalactites and stalagmites. It is a wondrous world. The small town of Pai is our destination today. Before we reach Pai, we visit the Sai Ngam Hot Springs, the last stop today. Overnight at the Heart of Pai Resort.
Day 6: Pai
Total distance today appr. 25 km, driving time about 45 mins
Exploring the town of Pai and its surroundings
Today we will tour Pai and its surroundings according to your wishes. Our guide and driver are available to serve you. If there are any entrance fees, you will have to pay them yourself. There are some interesting Buddhist temples in Pai, such as Wat Phra That Mae Yen, from where you have a lovely view of the town and the mountain scenery. Over the past decades, Pai has gained a kind of cult status. It has a relatively large foreign community and many local tourists flock to Pai in the cool season. The Chinese village Santichon has been developed for local tourists but is worth a visit. Another popular destination is Pai Canyon, an eroded landscape with lovely views and strange landscapes. Be careful hiking the trail. Some of them have deep ravines. Falling is not the Pai Adventure you are looking for.
Overnight at the Heart of Pai Resort.
Day 7: Pai – Sticky Waterfalls – Chiang Mai
Total distance today appr. 180 km, driving time about 5 hours
The final day of our Doi Inthanon to Pai Adventure
We will say goodbye to the lovely Pai, where we had such a wonderful time. The road from Pai to Mae Malai, the market town about 40km north of Chiang Mai, is a spectacular mountain road with many curves. The views are magnificent. We will stop now and then to enjoy the scenery and take pictures. We pass through the Huai Nam Dang National park and skirt the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. The Mork Fah waterfall is a towering waterfall in the latter, which we will visit to take a break. Don’t forget to bring your swimwear. Lunch will be in a local restaurant along the way.
The Sticky Waterfalls!
We will continue our journey to Mae Malai, from where we will drive to the Buatong Waterfalls. These falls have become very popular in recent years and are now known as the Sticky Waterfalls. These falls are in the Sri Lanna National Park. The rocky surface of these cascades is limestone, which is not slippery. You can walk up and down this waterfall’s levels without being afraid to fall. We will spend time at this fantastic place before we drive back to Chiang Mai, where we will drop you off at the hotel. We hope you enjoyed our Doi Inthanon to Pai Adventure.