Thailand Culture & Koh Samui Holiday
Unearth this culture rich itinerary that visits both Thailand's most historic destinations and its luxury island paradise, Koh Samui.
Hidden away in the lush jungle of Thailand's northern hills, Chiang Mai is the ultimate gateway to the pristine national parks, hill tribes, rural villages and elephant sanctuaries of the north.
The second largest city in Thailand, Chiang Mai has retained its authentic charm alongside its modern developments.
Roam the peaceful streets and you'll come across lively markets, ancient temple ruins, street vendors selling mouthwatering food and barefoot monks in saffron robes.
Wake up before 6am and head to the base of Chiang Mai Hill, where you'll witness the daily procession of Buddhist monks gliding into the city at sunrise to collect their alms.
You'll learn about the tradition of alms-giving from your local guide and you can even make offerings to the monks as they file down the hill.
Continue up the mountain on your early morning adventure to Wat Prah That Doi Suthep, one of the most important temples in Thailand. Climb the 306-step staircase or take the lift to the garden terrace at the top, where you can look out over panoramic views of the city.
With over 300 Buddhist temples strewn across the city, you could spend days exploring these fascinating sites. Some of the best temples to visit are Phrasingh, Chiang Mun and Chedi Luang.
There are also some incredible ancient ruins to explore at Wiang Kum Kan, set on the peaceful banks of the Mae Ping River.
The ruins are remnants from Chiang Mai's reign as the capital of the northern Thai Lanna Kingdom during the the 13th century. Over 1,300 artefacts were discovered in recent excavations.
Take a trip to the Elephant Nature Park where you can observe these majestic creatures in a safe and ethical environment. The foundation rescues abused elephants and cares for them while allowing them to play and roam freely.
Whip up some delicious, authentic Thai food at a cooking class on a local farm outside Chiang Mai. You'll use the freshest ingredients and finish the lesson with your own cooked meal.
Venture into the jungle for a special and personal experience observing the daily life of the local communities in the hill-tribe region.
In the evenings, be sure to head to Chiang Mai's night bazaar. The lively market overflows with music, aromatic foods, antiques, traditional wares and friendly vendors ready for a good-humoured haggle.
Chiang Mai is a trove of natural and cultural wonders and its easy to see why visitors keep returning to this thriving city.
The best time to visit Chiang Mai is during the cool, dry season from November to February, with December and January drawing the big holiday crowds. November and February are the two best months as there are fewer crowds, excellent weather, and you'll also have the chance to see fantastic festivals such as the light festival Loy Krathong in November and the flower festival in February.
The months from March to April are very hot and dry. Temperatures can rise up to 40°c between April and May although if you brave the heat in April you'll witness the Thai New Year celebrations including Songkran, the famous water festival. The rainy season runs from June to October, with cooler temperatures and quick downpours that don't overly impede activities. This season also sees the least amount of tourists so its a good time for those looking for a quieter holiday.
Most of our suggested luxury Thailand itineraries feature a stay in Chiang Mai. With so many cultural and natural gems to explore, visitors tend to linger in this beautiful, laidback city. On tours such as our Thailand Heritage & Hill Tribes, Northern Thailand Adventure with Beach and Thailand Explorer, you'll stay in the Hmong hill-tribe region, visit an elephant sanctuary, take a cooking class on a rural farm, visit majestic temples, roam the night bazaar, and witness the daily procession of monks in their call to alms at dawn. We can customise any of our luxury itineraries to include more time in Chiang Mai to see all of its incredible sights.
A trip to Chiang Mai offers the chance to stay in some truly unique accommodations. At Wayfairer, we work with Hmong Hilltribe Lodge, an exceptional property in the hill-tribe region of Chiang Mai. You'll enjoy fantastic buffet dinners and cultural performances by the local Hmong villagers. We also work with the The Rim Resort Chiang Mai, a luxury boutique hotel set in the heart of Chiang Mai's Old City. The hotel features a pool, onsite restaurant and a personalised butler service.