Northern Thailand is home to stunning mountain terrain, the rich culture of the Thai, and a fascinating history spanning back to the Lan Na Kingdom in the 13th century. In the comfort of the mild tropical savanna climate, embark on an excursion into nature, varying from rafting trips in Um Phang to hill-tribe hikes in Mae Sariang. For a taste of the city, Chiang Mai, the once capital of Lan Na and now capital of Chiang Mai region, strikes a uniquely Thai balance between ancient and modern, as well as cosmopolitan and rustic. Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway in a spa hotel in the mountains, or a city trip at a trendy design hotel in the capital, an escape to Northern Thailand promises to be an escape indeed.
Where to spend the night in Northern Thailand?
Chiang Mai Province: Mountain oasis
Around 470 miles from Bangkok, surrounded by the Thai highlands mountains in the north and south, and the rainforest-covered Khun Tan Range in the east, the Chiang Mai Province is an idyllic mountain oasis filled with wonderful national parks and rich traditions of culture and cuisine. After trying the must-snack of the region, Khao Soi, a coconut curry soup, head to check out one of the many natural wonders of the area. The Doi Inthanon National Park, one of the most popular in Thailand, brims with waterfalls, remote hiking trails, viewpoints over the Himalayas, and breathtaking traditional Thai architecture all on Thailand’s tallest mountain, Doi Inthanon. Chiang Mai’s Grand Canyon offers dizzying views off tall rock formations. A mountain hotel situated at the base of the Doi Inthanon or a romantic hotel tucked in the Chiang Mai countryside promises to be the perfect accompaniment to your stint into the natural and beautiful.
Chiang Mai City: The Rose of the North
Known as the ‘Rose of the North’, the largest city and capital of the region goes by the same name. A visit to Chiang Mai promises to surround you with friendly locals, a generally laidback energy, and a charm unique to its seven-century history. Situated along the Ping River and within the lush landscape of the province, Chiang Mai was named a UNESCO Creative City in late 2017. Generally quite a few degrees cooler than places like Bangkok, you’ll have plenty of energy to explore at least a large chunk of the more than 300 temples in this city — afterwards, stopping for traditional Khantoke dinner, often paired with traditional Lan Na entertainment. Also boasting a lively nightlife scene and bustling shopping districts, a riverside boutique hotel or a spa hotel in the Old City ensures you’ll get the most out of your trip to Northern Thailand.
Good to know:
Getting there: The Chiang Mai region is situated about 470 miles north of Bangkok – the quickest option is a 1.5-hour flight from there (BKK) to Chiang Mai Airport (CNX), which is located just 10 minutes from the center of the Old Town. For lovers of road trips through lush countrysides, renting a car and driving from Bangkok is also an option, but be wary that the trip is quite long (12 hours) and driving the winding mountain roads during the night is strongly encouraged against. For those on a budget or looking for an authentic & thorough stint into Thailand, there are buses and trains from Bangkok and other major Thai cities that range in price and quality. To get to your more secluded hotel in the Chiang Mai region, there are plenty of taxis/car-rental opportunities once you arrive in Chiang Mai city. One last tip: the two Bangkok airports are 40 minutes apart, so triple check you’re going to the right one – it might not be the one you flew in to.