Northern Thailand travel ideas: Explore Bangkok, Chang Mai and Chiang Rai
Researching a visit to Northern Thailand? Get inspired by this episode of the Tour the World travel TV series as we join On The Go Tours on a fabulous journey of discovery through the northern provinces, with more than a few cultural and culinary surprises along the way...
Looking for ideas on things to do in Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand? In this episode of the Tour the World travel TV series we join On The Go Tours on tour through fabulous northern Thailand. The tour takes in bustling Bangkok and the key northern centres of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.
The southern beaches and islands of Thailand are very familiar to Aussies, but the north of the country is a road less travelled.
Northern Thailand offers a rich diversity of cultural experiences. If you’re planning a visit to the region, this episode of Tour the World with On The Go Tours — hosted by The Big Bus tour and travel guide’s regular contributor Jade Harrison — is packed with Northern Thailand travel ideas and inspiration, including culture, dining, history, shopping and relaxation must-sees and dos.
Whether you plan to travel with a tour group or independently, in this episode you’ll get information about visiting Bangkok, fascinating Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and the infamous Golden Triangle.
Here are Jade’s top five experiences from this amazing tour.
1. Unwind at the River Kwai Jungle Rafts Hotel
First on my list of top things to do in Northern Thailand is the River Kwai Jungle Rafts Hotel. This place absolutely blew my mind. A bamboo hotel that floats — it’s just as amazing as it sounds. Forget your hairdryer and phone charger though. There’s no electricity!
2. Learn about Hellfire Pass and the Burma Railway
The Burma Railway and Hellfire Pass make my list of top things to do in Northern Thailand based on the impact they had on all of us on the tour. Thousands of Australian POWs lost their lives during the construction of the railway during World War II, when Thailand was under the control of Japanese forces. A journey on the railway and a walk through the pass are really emotive ways to pay your respects.
3. Visit the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre
The Thai Elephant Conservation Centre is Thailand’s original elephant school and conservation facility. It’s owned by the Thai Government and is home to around fifty Asian elephants. The facilities include a hospital and nursery, where you can hand feed the baby elephants (just remember to peel the bananas for them!). The centre welcomes visitors and it’s possible to train as a mahout. There wasn’t anything contrived about the facility and it didn’t seem overly touristy.
4. Explore Sukhothai Historical Park by bike
The Sukhothai Historical Park is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed archeological site that features temples and structures from the old kingdom of Sukhothai, which flourished here in the 13th and 14th centuries. It’s regarded as the first capital of Siam. The site is very spread out and the best way to get around is by bicycle. They’re available for hire for about 30 baht ($1.50). You can then set off and explore the ruins at your own pace.
5. Soak up the charm of Chiang Mai
Thailand doesn’t get any more charming than Chiang Mai. A visit here is definitely one of the top things to do in Northern Thailand. Chiang Mai is one of the busiest cities in the north, but it just oozes character and a laid back feel. There are more cafes here than in any city in the south, and Chang Mai has a really creative vibe. You’ll find amazing arts and crafts on offer.
The fabulous Night Bazaar offers great souvenir shopping and some of the best street food you’ll find anywhere in Asia.
Do you have any Northern Thailand travel ideas to suggest? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Jade Harrison is a presenter on the Tour the World travel series on Network Ten and a freelance travel writer, and has travelled to New Zealand, Hawaii, Canada, USA, Mexico, the UK, Europe, Thailand, Brazil, India and Nepal — including a trek to Annapurna Base Camp! Jade loves all aspects of travelling and adventure — from roughing it in the Himalayas, to backpacking through Europe, to enjoying some five-star luxury along the way.