Northern Thailand is home to some incredible cities like Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Pai. While these destinations are pretty well-known, there are plenty of sights and activities in these places that the average traveller has never heard of.
Instead of following the typical tourist track, why not break away and get off the beaten track? Experience northern Thailand the way the locals see it!
Sure, you’ll want to see the White Temple in Chiang Rai, participate in the Yipeng Lantern Festival, and explore Doi Ithanon, one of Thailand’s most famed National Parks.
But after you’ve checked these hot spots off your list, why not venture a little further – to places most travellers don’t even know they’re missing!
This list of 25 unique attractions will help you uncover some of the best-kept secrets in northern Thailand. From the breathtaking and remote temples of Wat CHaloem Pra Kiat Phrachomklao Rachanusorn…
…to the hidden emerald waters of Lampang…
…and stunning views from Chiang Rai’s distant mountain tops!
1. Indulge in tea, scenery and more in this quaint little Chinese Village – Baan Rai Thai, Mae Hong Son
How would you like to be transported to a lovely Chinese village complete with a signature tea experience during your Chiang Mai trip?
Baan Rai Thai is a small village with a population of just around 1,000 who are mainly Chinese-born or Thai-Chinese. With a heavy Chinese influence on its signboards, buildings, and even the local language, Baan Rai is now stealing travellers’ attention with its unique charm, cool weather, Chinese food and locally grown Oolong Tea.
Originated from China, the famous Oolong Tea is grown right in these plantations. You can learn all about its production and harvest, and enjoy a hot cuppa tea yourself, while taking in the tranquil and green surroundings.
The best time to visit Baan Rai is from October to February, especially in February when an annual Tea Tasting Festival takes place. In addition to a tea-licious holiday, you can also trek, cycle or do horse-riding around the scenic village, while staying at the most popular accommodation, Lee Wine Ruk Thai Resort, for that authentic Baan Rai experience you won’t get elsewhere in Thailand.
Also known by the names Wat Phabatpuphadang, Wat Phrabuddhabat or Wat Doi, these spectacular temples and pagodas are truly one of a kind. Clinging to the jagged cliff face at the top of a mountain, the temples overlook a sheer drop close to 1,000 meters below!
An hour’s drive from Lampang deposits you at the first level, where you can wander around the main temple, and meet the monks who live in this area.
The second level is farther up the mountain, and can be accessed by tuk-tuk or on foot. Here you will find the famous footsteps that are believed to belong to Buddha.
Leading to the final level of the temple complex are 800 extremely steep steps that bring you to the most magnificent mountain top in Thailand. This third tier is known as Doi Prat Bet – and here you’ll find the golden pagoda, prayer hall, and many white stupas scattered along the rocky surface of the mountain top.
The 360 degree views from the summit are incredible; the Thung valley below, the hills in the distance, and the temples surrounding you. Located in the Lampang province (112km from Chiang Mai), this magnificent, 3-level Buddhist tribute may be a little difficult to get to, but more than worth the journey.
Video by Jakapong Wattanajahree