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If you’re in Chiang Mai, or planning to visit during the winter season – don’t forget to add Doi Tung Development Project in your itinerary.

(While Doi Tung Development Project is opened every day of the year, another highlight is the Colours of Doi Tung Festival that’s only opened during weekend and public holidays, during the winter season between December to January!)

We were there recently in December 2017, and it’s definitely one of our favourite highlights of the trip.

Being there feels a little like you’re in Switzerland. From the well-manicured royal gardens, to the Swiss-inspired Royal Villa where the late HRH Princess Srinagarindra made home – it’s a place full of history, meaning, beauty and culture.

main garden 2

There are 6 main places to note (here’s the map):

1. Colours of Doi Tung Festival – shop and eat from local stalls along the way
2. Mae Fah Luang Gardens – admire the rare and beautiful flowers
3. Doi Tung Royal Villa – get inspired by the late Princess Mother’s life
4. Hall of Inspiration – extraordinary insights into the Royal Family of Thailand
5. Mae Fah Luang Arboretum – a garden with special plants and flowers with panoramic views of Myanmar

Photo via ikesuriyan

6. Doi Tung Treetop Walk – a fun/thrilling walk through the trees

Photo via mainarinzz

PS: From the base of the mountain, you’ll have to drive 20-30 minutes to get up to the entrance of Doi Tung Development Project. From there, there are free shuttles bringing travellers up to the heart of Doi Tung.

Find out why you should make a trip down, and our list of the top 5 highlights here!

Read more:

25 Unique things to do in and around Chiang Mai and northern Thailand

5D4N Chiang Mai couple itinerary for first-timers

16 Adventurous, cultural, and artistic things to do in and around Chiang Mai

19 Unique cafes and restaurants in Chiang Mai you never knew existed  

1. See beautiful artworks and shop at the bazaar – Colours of Doi Tung Festival

The first thing that will greet you upon reaching Doi Tung, is the beautiful artworks laid out along the way.

Admire the art as you walk along, and you will soon reach the bazaar where a plethora of local goods and food awaits.

Say hi to the tribal locals decked out in their traditional wear, as you try the local food. Everything from night market-style local food, to a surprisingly good tea-tasting session is available here!

Doi Tung festival is opened during these dates
2017 Dec 2-5, 9-11, 16-17, 23-31
2018 Jan 1-2, 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28

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2. Get creative and learn pottery, weaving and more – Doi Tung Bazaar Workshops

Another interesting aspect of Doi Tung during this winter season, are the workshops available at the bazaar.

If you’re always wanted to try your hands at pottery or weaving, here’s a fantastic place to get started – and it’ll be a most memorable experience you’re bound to never forget.


3. Walk through the beautiful gardens – Mae Fah Luang Gardens

Here’s where you’ll get to take gorgeously instagrammable photos. Mae Fah Luang Gardens is an extremely well-manicured area of lawns and colourful flowers spilling through the mountainous terrain.

The meandering walk will take you through an initial short ‘hike’ through colourful mountain flowers, before you reach the main garden area.

main garden 2
Photo via beautywis

At the main area, you’ll see flowers literally spilling out of huge life-sized baskets, a traditional ferris wheel that local kids used to play on, rare cold weather flowers – and so much more.

4. Take a walking tour through a royal residence that’s still in use – Doi Tung Royal Villa

We will never forget our time at Doi Tung Royal Villa, and neither will you.

There’s so much inspiration here – built by the Royal Family, find out more about from the way the late Princess Mother lived – and how she did her best to help improve the lives of her people.

Photo by iamai

At the entrance of the villa, you will be told to place your footwear in a plastic bag that’s left outside. You will also be given a handheld device with accompanying headset for your free audio tour (comes in Thai, English, and Mandarin) of the Royal Villa.

Visitors aren’t allowed to take photos in the Royal Villa, but the public photo below shows one sneak peek of the extraordinary details inside – like the ceiling of the royal reception hall.

Photo by theprincessmothermemorialpark.org

The late Princess Mother invited astronomers around the world to design this starry ceiling complete with the horoscopes and the exact location of planets in our solar system when she was born.

Photo via kpchh, TripCanvas 

When you get started, all you need to do is press the numbers on the headset, that matches the numbers you see in the villa. This was an excellent audio tour that provided rare insights into the late Princess Mother’s life.

After the tour, you will walk away fully inspired. (True story, this tour made us think more about the way we live our lives!)

5. Get inspired by the life and works of Thailand’s Royal Family – Hall of Inspiration

After the Royal Villa tour, we were keen to learn more about the Royal Family, and headed to the Hall of Inspiration.

Here you’ll find photos and information about the rest of the Royal Family, including the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and their children. See how they grew up, and learn more about their history.

We were deeply inspired by the quotes we saw, and there was a fair bit of food for thought here.

But one of the more fascinating insights were how the Royal Family did their best to support the tribes and local people. Doi Tung used to be an area where poppy plants were grown and farmed to produce opium (heroin) and was a main contributor to the drug trade in the region.

This affected the locals, and was a bad cycle of living for generations, until steps were taken to educate the locals and resources were provided to them.

We also saw more about how changes in Thailand have affected the climate and what was being done to improve living situations in the country – which was pretty interesting.

6. Special Mention: Make it a full day’s trip! – Choui Fong Tea Plantation

If you’re inspired to travel to Doi Tung Development Project, then you should consider a trip to Choui Fong Tea Plantation in the morning before heading up to Doi Tung!

Wander through the tea plantation, smell the fresh mountain air tinged with the scent of tea – and head into the cafe for delicious drinks and nibbles.

All we can say is, we fully enjoyed the drinks and cake we ordered – and this editor is currently enjoying a steaming pot of Osmanthus Oolong Tea at the time of writing – purchased from Choui Fong Tea Plantation! (Generally, the quality of tea here truly isn’t shabby! Tested, and proven.)

Don’t forget to take cool tea plantation shots too!

What did you think about our review of Doi Tung? This place is especially great for couples and families looking for a meaningful adventure.

Let us know in the comments below if you’re keen on going to Doi Tung!

Doi Tung Development Project

Address: Doi Tung Development Project, Tambon Mae Fah Luang, Amphoe Mae Fah Luang, Chiang Rai (Coordinates here)
Contact: 053-767-015-7
Opening hours: Daily from 7am to 5.30pm (The Doi Tung Bazaar is only available on winter weekends between December to January)
Price/Entrance fee: 200 Baht (adults), 100 Baht (kids and elderly) – Special Package for 4 attractions including Mae Fah Luang Garden, Mae Fah Luang Arboretum, Doi Tung Royal Villa, and Hall of Inspiration. (There’s a free shuttle ride from the base of Doi Tung to the Development Project!)
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Choui Fong Tea Plantation

Address: หมู่ 10 ซอย 9 แม่จัน, Amphoe Mae Chan, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57110, Thailand (Coordinates here)
Contact: +66 53 771 563
Opening hours: Daily from 8am to 5pm
Price / Entrance fees:
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