The nature around Chiang Mai is stunning, so its main attraction will be to enjoy the tropical forest along with the valleys and rice fields: hiking, biking, zip line, etc. These activities can be carried out in the day and it’s also possible to combine two of them in the same valley.
In the case of the beautiful Doi Inthanon and Chiang Dao mountains, both national parks, tourist services offer a great opportunity to spend a night or two in nature to make the most of your trip and also meet the hill tribes if you fancy.
As for the weather seasons, there is a pattern repeated throughout the north, that is, the same for Chiang Rai in the east and Mae Hong Son in the west.
The monsoons begin in May and end in October, a period in which nature and the rice fields are exuberant, although then it is necessary to adapt the trip to a higher probability of rain.
From November to mid-February, it is the ideal time to go north. In December and January, the temperatures drop, the nights are cool and even cold as you gain altitude in the excursions.
From mid-February to mid-May, the forest is drier and the atmosphere less clean when the fields are burned to fertilize them.
Cultural visits and the hill tribes should get our attention.
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Mae Rim Valley
This valley near Chiang Mai hosts a wide variety of tourism businesses, from resorts with a spa to orchid farms, snake farms, monkey shows, zip lines, etc. Not all of them have a positive assessment concerning the care of animals, check the reviews on the Internet before making your decision.
In the upper part of the valley, in Samoeng, there are numerous strawberry plantations. Very tasty in January, February and until mid-March.
Mae Taeng Valley
Chiang Dao National Park
The mountains of Chiang Dao are the sources of the Ping River and it has the third-highest peak of the country that reaches 2,175 meters. A beautiful place to trek in the forest, ride a bike along the dirt roads and enjoy its refreshing waterfalls.
Hill tribes are also established in this area and its deep cave is famous. In December and January, the Himalayan cherry trees bloom.
Doi Inthanon National Park
This nature reserve includes the highest peak in the country and forms part of the easternmost Himalayas. It is a cool, humid area covered with dense forestland and amazing waterfalls.
To get a better idea about this place, we recommend reading this post about Doi Inthanon.
Doi Suthep – Pui mountain
Doi Pui is a mountain in front of Chiang Mai that reaches an altitude of 1,685 meters. It consists of 261 square kilometres of mixed forest with coniferous forest and dry evergreen forest, among others. Suitable for hiking, biking and bird watching.
Tourist attractions: Bhubing Palace, Hmong Doi Pui Village (perhaps too much touristic) with a museum, flowers garden and souvenir shops. Viewpoints from some cliffs and waterfalls like Monthathan. Of course, we don’t forget the Wat Doi Suthep.
Bhubing Palace, Doi Suthep – Pui Link
Operating hours: From 08h30 to 16h30 (tickets sold until 15h30)
This palace was built in 1961 as a winter Royal residence in northern Thailand and Royal guesthouse for prominent foreigner visitors. Its eucalyptus cottages, mansions and beautiful gardens deserve a visit, mostly during the Thai winter, in January and February.
It closes during Royal visits.
Visitors are required to dress appropriately. Shorts and dresses showing bare shoulders are not allowed.
Sankhampaeng Hot Springs
These hot springs are a place to rest and relax in a beautiful natural setting, close to the city of Chiang Mai.
Two geysers are shooting the hot water 20 metres high into the air. Water temperature emerges over 100 degrees Celsius.
An excellent opportunity to mingle with local tourists, who are very fond of this kind of pastime.
To get a better idea about this place, we recommend reading this post.