Trip idea / Thailand

Thailand

Top to Toe

Discover the best that Thailand has to offer from north to south.

The Lowdown

  • What:

    A 12-day journey from the forested mountains and hill tribe villages of Thailand’s far north to the pristine beaches and limestone towers of its tropical south, ending among the temples of bustling Bangkok.

  • Best For:

    People looking to see the many sides of Thailand: its contrasting scenery, abundant wildlife, culture, history and legendary hospitality.

  • When To Go:

    The cooler months from November to February are among the best to visit these parts of Thailand. June to October are best avoided as the south-west monsoon can bring rain to the Andaman coast.

Highlights

  • Visiting hill tribe villages in the forested mountains of the Golden Triangle
  • Sampling sizzling street food and shopping for curios in the markets of Chiang Mai
  • Kayaking around the giant limestone stacks of Phang Nga Bay
  • Marvelling at the giant reclining Buddha in Bangkok’s Wat Pho

It’s no secret that Thailand has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. But look beyond sandy shores and you’ll find gilded temples, the ruins of ancient kingdoms, hill tribe villages in forested mountains, elephant encounters in misty jungles, fabulous food and heart-warming hospitality.

GOLDEN TRIANGLE

Chiang Rai Province, Thailand, Karen Long Neck Woman in Hill Tribe Village Near Chiang Rai City
Akha women smiled and admired the coffee that was dried in the house, the hill tribe coffee products of northern Thailand.
Rice fields beside the mountains in the north of Thailand during the rainy season
Elefantenfiguren am Goldenen Dreieck
Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Camp
A male Asian elephant is enjoying bathing.
Phu Chaisai Mountain Resort 8
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Phu Chaisai Mountain Resort 4
Phu Chaisai Mountain Resort 3
Phu Chaisai Mountain Resort 6
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Day 1-3

After arriving in Bangkok, fly north to Chiang Rai for three nights exploring the highlands of northern Thailand. The region is best known for its 800,000 or so minority peoples, known collectively as hill tribes, or Cha Khao in Thai, who farm the region where the borders of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet – an area referred to as the Golden Triangle.

While the tribes share some traits, each has its own distinctive dress, language and customs. Visiting their villages, trekking among rich mountain scenery, interacting with elephants in their natural habitat, and motoring down the Mekong on longtail boats are just a few of the activities on offer in the region.

"Trekking the bright green landscapes and encountering hill tribes and their unique way of life makes a fantastic start to your tour of Thailand."

Stay: Phu Chaisai Mountain Resort

A true back to nature experience, staying at Phu Chaisai means immersion in the misty mountains of the Mae Salong Valley, and the all-natural design of the hotel allows you to be at one with the encroaching greenery. The absence of TVS and digital technology enhances the sounds of nature and days spent exploring rivers, waterfalls, temples and villages connect you deeply to this remote part of the Golden Triangle.

CHIANG MAI

Tea farm organic. Tea farm 2000 Doi Ang Khang Chiang Mai Thailand.
CHIANG MAI, THAILAND – May 18:  Visakha Puja Day Thai monks sitting meditate with many candle at Phan Tao temple  on May 18, 2019 in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Detail from Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai. This Buddhist temple founded in 1383 is the most famous in Chiang Mai.
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Sunset at Doi Inthanon – Chiang mai Thailand
137 Pillars
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2023-10-24 17_06_04-Gallery _ 137 Pillars House _ Chiang Mai
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Day 4 - 5

Thailand’s laidback second city will be your next destination. Though a great base for trekking and rafting adventures, Chiang Mai has plenty to offer of its own, with artisan shopping, delicious restaurants and characterful hotels, as well as peaceful wats (temples) and busy street markets, many within the boundaries of its 19th century moat.

The city’s annual flower festival, in February, is an excellent time to visit, with colourful displays of orchids and other regional flowers, together with street parades.

"With plentiful craft shopping and authentic artisan workshops, Chang Mai is the place to pick a unique, handcrafted memento from your trip."

Stay: 137 Pillars, Chang Mai

Atmospheric charm wreaths 137 Pillars in Chiang Mai, where the original 19th century teak homestead forms the focus of the historic hotel, located in the riverside Wat Gate neighbourhood. The serene gardens are where the gorgeous pool is located, bordered by a vast green wall. Suites are also roomy, peaceful spaces that come with roll top baths and elegant verandas. Drop into the spa for a traditional Thai massage and enjoy mouth-watering Thai cuisine in the lantern-lit, teak dining house.

ANDAMAN COAST

James Bond Island on Phang Nga bay, Thailand
Thailand green lush tropical island in a blue and turquoise sea with islands in the background and clouds, Surrounding Islands of Koh Yao Noi, Phang Nga, Phang Nga, Thailand.
Beautiful nature of Thailand. James Bond island reflects in water near Phuket
2023-10-24 17_10_55-PHOTOs & VIDEOs Gallery I Paradise Koh Yao Noi Resort
Paradise Koh Yao
2023-10-24 17_09_47-PHOTOs & VIDEOs Gallery I Paradise Koh Yao Noi Resort
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Day 6 - 10

If by now you’re yearning for those beautiful Thai beaches, then the Andaman Coast will tick all your boxes. Imposing limestone stacks rise up from secluded bays fringed by fine-sand beaches, and coral-rich marine parks reveal some of the country’s best dive sites.

Phuket is the gateway to the region and where you’ll fly in to. Further south, Krabi’s craggy coastline attracts birders, climbers and kayakers alike, and serves as a jumping-off point for trips by longtail boat to popular Koh Phi Phi and quieter Koh Lanta.

"Thailand's archetypal tropical scenes are seen on many a tourist brochure - here you'll see it for yourself in secluded bliss."

Stay: Paradise Koh Yao

One our favourite islands is Koh Yao Noi that sits in the Phang Nga Bay. A low-key island, there are hotels aplenty but also authentic charm where you can cycle through coconut plantations and see local life. We recommend Paradise Koh Yao, right on the beach facing the towering limestone karsts of Phang Nga. Ideal for families or couples, you can choose between the jungle privacy of a hillside suite or one that opens right out onto the beach.

BANGKOK

famous golden reclining buddha statue at wat pho bangkok thailand
Grand palace and Wat phra keaw at sunset at Bangkok, Thailand
Wat Phra Kaew Ancient temple in bangkok Thailand
Damnoen Saduak floating market, The famous attractions of Ratchaburi. Launched to the world as the source. The first tour since 2510.
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Sky Bar at Lebua, State Tower
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Day 11- 12

Complete your Thai adventure with two nights in Bangkok, staying in the bustling Sukhumvit district. The Thai capital’s attractions are almost endless, but if this is your first visit then not-to-be-missed sites include the vast reclining Buddha at Wat Pho, the opulent Grand Palace, and a boat trip down the canals to see the city’s floating markets.

End by toasting your trip at one of the city’s excellent rooftop bars, like the Sky Bar at Lebua State Tower, one of the highest rooftop bars in the world.

"Bustling Bangkok is the perfect end to your trip, displaying another fascinating face of this dynamic country."

Stay: Ariyasom Villa

This 1940s restored villa is full of character, located in Sukhumvit. A welcome respite from bustling Bangkok, Ariyasome has a boutique feel and is shrouded in leafy greenery. Rooms are elegantly decorated in teak and Thai silk and the vegetarian restaurant is a delight. Open air yoga and a swimming pool complete the scene of tropical serenity in the heart of Bangkok.