This 12-day challenge takes in temples, forests, traditional minority villages in the hills, national parks and waterfalls as you ride to the awe-inspiring destination of Chiang Mai. This adventure holiday features the very best that Thailand has to offer for those prepared to step away from tourist trails and travel like the locals. It isn't just fantastic sights that you'll enjoy along the way, but also wonderful experiences - rafting downstream on bamboo rafts, a jungle trek, trying street food, swimming in waterfall pools, staying in homestays with local families and helping local villagers make a traditional forest feast in a traditional Karen village. This isn't just dipping a toe in the water, it's total immersion in the wonderful and exciting culture of this South-East Asian gem.
Day 1-2 (Saturday 13 November to Sunday 14 November 2021): London to Chiang Mai
Depart on an overnight flight to Chiang Mai. On arrival you will be met and transferred to a central hotel where you will have time to freshen up before meeting for a briefing and welcome dinner. Meals: Dinner
Day 3 (Monday 15 November 2021): Chiang Mai to Mae Wang
Depart after breakfast for the tuk tuk training base, at Mae Wang. After checking into Khun Khum Wang resort you will start you driver training. This will involve getting up to speed on the surrounding small back roads, leading to a small temple and with great views of the surrounding countryside. Late afternoon you finish by rafting downstream on local bamboo rafts, a great end to your first day. This evening you will head out to what's best described as the Thai version of a 'country pub'. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Driving: Approx. 1-1.5 hours training followed by 2 hours (for around 30 mins each time)
Day 4 (Tuesday 16 November 2021): Mae Wang to Ban Long Lom Leng
After breakfast you will explore more small rural roads and head to Wat Doi Sapanyoo temple with stunning 360 degree views from the Pagoda and towering Buddha statues. You then head off into the mountains getting off the beaten track into the Hill Tribe territory. You'll stop to explore the Mae Sapok valley, stopping to enjoy a short jungle trek along the way. By mid-afternoon you'll arrive at Ban Long Lom Leng, a traditional Karen village. You'll have the opportunity to learn about the history and culture of the Karen people. This evening you camp in the foothills of Doi Inthanon, Thailand's highest mountain. You'll learn how to cook a traditional forest feast, working alongside the locals to prepare the meal, and then eat with them around the campfire. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Driving: Approx. 3 hours (spread over approx. 5 hours. Longest stretch is approx. 30 minutes)
Day 5 (Wednesday 17 November 2021): Ban Long Lom Leng to Mae Sariang
Hitting the road again you head towards the Thai/Myanmar border, passing some incredible scenery along the way. Mae Sariang is well worth exploring with friendly people, a fascinating mix of Thai and Burmese culture and some interesting temples. Tonight's accommodation is in a riverside lodge, where there is a chance to cool off in the pool. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Driving: Approx. 5 hours (spread over the whole day).
Day 6 (Thursday 18 November 2021): Mae Sariang to Ban Lay Oop
Today you head along more tiny mountain back roads through several small rural communities before heading up onto a mountain ridge, eventually arriving at tonight's destination, the Lawa Hill Tribe village of Ban Lay Oop. This village has only recently opened their community to overnight visitors and is a small settlement of around 200 houses. You will have the chance to learn about how they are changing their farming practices to preserve the local environment. The area is famous for silversmiths and you will also get the chance to visit them during your stay. You will spend the night in homestays with local families sleeping in traditional Lewa houses. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Driving: Approx. 3 hours (spread over 4.5-5 hours).
Day 7 (Friday 19 November 2021): Ban Lay Oop to Mae Hong Son
After some time exploring the village you head down the winding mountain roads, back to the valley floor, and stop off to visit a remote cave complex famous for their beautiful formations and location. You continue north, parallel to the border with Myanmar to Mae Hong Son. You will spend the night at Fern Resort nestled in the forest, surrounded by paddy fields, about 10km outside the main town. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Driving: Approx. 4-5 hours (spread over the day).
Day 8 (Saturday 20 November 2021): Mae Hong Son Trek Loy Krathong festival
You'll give the tuk tuks a rest today as you set off on foot from the resort to explore the forests and national parks of Mae Hong Son. Maybe stop off and take a dip at one of the waterfalls you'll encounter along the way and enjoy a picnic lunch in a beautiful setting. In total you will walk for around 10km (about 4 hours), before returning to the hotel. This evening you will head into the middle of town where the Loy Krathong festival will be celebrated around the lake. There will be superb street food, lanterns and all sorts of local competitions going on from Thai boxing to dance. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 9 (Sunday 21 November 2021): Mae Hong Son to Pai
It's back in the tuk tuks today as you follow the stunning mountain road towards the town of Pai. The road takes you up and over several mountain passes, through deep forests and past a number of different ethnic communities including the Kuomintang who settled in this area after fleeing China in the late 1940s. You'll also stop to explore Thailand's largest cave system, the Lod Caves. You'll stay in a small resort about 5km outside the town, and perhaps take the opportunity to enjoy a traditional Thai massage this afternoon. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Driving: Approx. 5 hours (spread over the day).
Day 10 (Monday 22 November 2021): Pai to Mae Wang
It's time to say a fond farewell to your tuk tuk today as you return to base camp. Negotiating your final mountain bends you drop back towards the lowlands, passing through several small towns and villages before reaching Mae Wang in the late afternoon. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Driving: Approx. 6 hours (spread over the day)
Day 11 (Tuesday 23 November 2021): Mae Wang to Chiang Mai
Today you head back to Chiang Mai, stopping to take in fabulous views of the city below from the famous Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. After checking into your central hotel, you can relax and enjoy a free afternoon before meeting up for your farewell dinner at a lively riverside restaurant. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 12-13 (Wednesday 24 - Thursday 25 November 2021): Chiang Mai to London
Transfer to the airport for the return flight to London. Meals: Breakfast
N.B. While we do not anticipate changes, this itinerary may be subject to alteration due to flight schedules, hotel availability and other factors outside our control. During the trip itself the itinerary will depend on the group ability, weather and the daily circumstances. Any changes in the itinerary will be made in the interest of group safety and enjoyment. In-country, your guide and tour manager will have the final say in the interest of the health and safety of the group.
You need a full driving licence and an International Driving Permit (IDP) to take part in driving the tuk tuks. You will be given driving training for the tuk tuks and advice on driving conditions.
What is included
- Return flights from London
- Airline taxes and charges
- Local transfers and transport in Thailand
- All accommodation (hotels-8 nights, homestay-1 night, camping-1 night)
- Use of tuk tuk, (up to 3 people per vehicle), driver training and fuel costs
- Support vehicle and mechanic
- English-speaking guides and tuk tuk support crew
- All meals as per itinerary
- UK Different Travel tour manager
What is not included
- Any necessary vaccinations
- Drinks, laundry and personal expenses
- Spending money
- Transport to/from UK airports
- Tips and gratuities
- Travel insurance
- Thailand visa (if required)
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