Five top things to do in Northern Thailand

Many Aussies wing their way to the southern beaches of Thailand to sip on cocktails and laze in the sand. But the northern part of the country is just as amazing - particularly if you are looking for a more cultural experience. Jade Harrison checks in with five great reasons to head north...

Top things to do in Northern Thailand

Top things to do in Northern Thailand. Image courtesy of Tourism Authority of Thailand

Northern Thailand offers travellers an experience that’s full of culture and history.

While filming for the Tour the World travel TV series, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to join a ten-day tour through Northern Thailand with On The Go Tours. It was adventurous – yet relaxing at the same time.

If you are planning a visit to this amazing part of the world, here are five top things to do in Northern Thailand.

Top things to do in Northern Thailand

Top things to do in Northern Thailand: Visit Chiang Mai. Image: Bigstock

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!

The gentle flow of the River Kwai makes for some good fun. Throw a life jacket off one end of the hotel, grab hold and let the current float you all the way to the other end!

As night falls the hotel lights up with lanterns, making it one of the most romantic places to stay in the region.

Top things to do in Northern Thailand

Top things to do in Northern Thailand: River Kwai Jungle Rafts Hotel

Experience 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.

Top things to do in Northern Thailand

Top things to do in Northern Thailand: Experience Hellfire Pass and the Burma Railway.

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.

Top things to do in Northern Thailand

Top things to do in Northern Thailand: Sukhothai Historical Park

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.

Enjoy 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.

Top things to do in Northern Thailand

Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar. Image courtesy of Tourism Authority of Thailand

The fabulous Night Bazaar offers great souvenir shopping and some of the best street food you’ll find anywhere in Asia.

Jade travelled as a guest of On The Go Tours. 

Do you have any tips for top things to do in Northern Thailand? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Additional images: Bigstock

 

Jade Harrison

About the writer

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. Jade loves to indulge in the culture and landscapes of new destinations and enjoys sharing that experience with readers of The Big Bus tour and travel guide.


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