Back of two young hill tribe girls walking through long deep green grass.

Northern Thailand

The area around Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are home to several hill tribes. Each of the tribes offers its own fascinating traditions and rituals; the Karen, the largest of Thailand’s tribes are known for wearing woven V-neck tunics and turbans of various natural colours while the Hmong tribe are known for their intricate embroidery.

Over the years the tribal groups have succumbed to tourism and a large amount of their authenticity has faded, however with some insider knowledge and a little effort you can still visit tradition hill tribe villages.

The green lush scenery makes walking in this region a delight but, for those that prefer, elephant treks are also available and small mahout courses. Why not try venturing into Myanmar for a day or two or continue with a journey into Laos and take a boat down the Mekong River to Luang Prabang.


What do you really love doing? We’ll tailor your itinerary to suit you.

Karen Long Neck Woman, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Experience a Homestay

Experience hill tribe culture through a homestay – trek to a hill village north of Chiang Mai and stay the night in a local home to gain an insight into life in this rural region.

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Elephant Family, Thailand

Encounter Asian Elephants

Learn more about the Asian elephant at the Four Seasons Tented Camp or Anantara Hotel Chiang Rai. With a focus on care and understanding, neither offer elephant riding.

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Spice Market, Thailand

Local Market Cooking Class

Chiang Mai is home to some delicious regional food so a cooking lesson in the market is fun.

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Paddy field, Mae Hong Song, Northern Thailand

Pai and Mae Hong Son

Explore the ethnically diverse Mae Hong Son region in Northern Thailand. With markets and lush vistas, this mountainous region bordering Myanmar, is a change from the busy city of Chiang Mai.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Arrival Jetty, Anantara Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Visit The Golden Triangle

Visit the rural Golden Triangle of the north where Thailand borders Burma and Laos – a region full of temples, tribal hill villages and elephants.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Man and Child, Akha, Thailand

Meet Rural Hill Tribes

Travel out to Mae Hong Son province and spend a night in Pai exploring less visited hill tribe communities.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Station View, Eastern & Oriental Express, Bangkok, Thailand

Take the Sleeper Train

Journey on the local overnight sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai or treat yourself to Eastern & Oriental’s journey to Singapore.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Poppy heads, Northern Thailand

The Hall of Opium Museum

Take a day trip from Chiang Rai to the Hall of Opium Museum, set up to provide education and information on the opium trade, which once plagued this region.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Where to Stay

Every captivating tailor-made itinerary needs a perfect base. Our team has handpicked this collection of properties to give you luxury options in styles to suit any adventure.

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Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Paul Craven

Paul is the Conde Nast Traveller chosen Specialist for Central Asia and the Silk Route.

Being from a family with Army connections I can from an early age remember travelling. From camping in Europe and then later being sent to boarding school when we lived in Germany at the age of eight, complete with shorts, long socks, a cap and my suitcase. In appearance not too dissimilar to the children evacuated to the countryside during the blitz.

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