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Awesome places to visit in Northern Thailand



Stock photo via Oriental Escape

Northern Thailand is one of the best places for nature lovers as it features beautiful hills, rice fields, hill tribes, mountains and waterfalls. Visiting is definitely recommended during the months of December and January as the natural scenery gets even more beautiful as sakura and cherry blossoms adorn the outside world. Besides Chiang Mai, however, there are many other places to visit in Thailand’s north, which promise travellers a window into local culture. Here, it is amazing to see the different ethnic groups that make up the northern area of Thailand, with Myanmar’s culture fusing with that of Thailand’s.

Northern Thailand’s Most Awesome Places

1. Pai

Pai is definitely a must-see if you are thinking of travelling north. As it is known for as being an ultra hippie backpacker haven, it is a go-to place for eclectic bohemian souvenirs. Moreover, it is a great place to relax and recharge with many health-conscious eateries, massage places, and yoga sanctuaries.

What’s cool about Pai is that you can experience its natural surroundings which feature waterfalls, a canyon and hill tribe villages. And, since it is a popular place to visit, Pai offers a great nightlife scene with plenty of enticing bars to choose from. As Koh Pha Ngan is considered southern Thailand’s hippie haven, Pai is northern Thailand’s bohemian wonderland.

15 UNIQUE Things to Do in Pai [in 2021]


2. Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai (not Chiang Mai) is the latter’s sister city, and it is definitely well-worth a visit. Complete with waterfalls and hill tribes, the area is delightful to the eye. Moreover, its famous White Temple or Wat Rong Khun, is one of the most stunning temples in the country. And, if you are wondering if it is truly a white-coloured temple, you can be sure you will be in awe of its boldness.

However, the opposing colour adorns another attraction called The Black House or Baan Dam Museum. Thus, the city’s top attractions are uniquely similar by name. Those wanting to venture just outside of the city will find the likes of Doi Mae Salong, the site of the Santi Khiri Village. This village was inhabited by the former Chinese 93rd Division, which had moved from Myanmar to Thai territory in 1961. With majestic scenery, the village is a great place for hiking. Furthermore, if you go between December and January, the sakuras are in full bloom, making the area even more picturesque.

Chiang Rai - Everything You Need to Know About Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai

3. Chiang Dao

Outdoorsmen will find Chiang Dao their favourite as it features everything from hiking to caving. Moreover, it sits upon the green slopes of the Chiang Dao Mountain, which means the city of stars. And, its name is definitely not misleading as star gazing is top notch here. Travellers can choose to camp overnight in San Phakia among the stars with epic views of the valley below.

Chiang Dao is also home to natural hot springs where travellers can surely indulge in ultimate relaxation. The nightlife is that of a delightfully quaint, local Thai town. Additionally, in Janurary, visitors can see cherry blossoms in full bloom. The Japanese hippie Shambhala In Your Heart Festival is one attraction that should also be on your itinerary.

Doi Luang Chiang Dao in Chiang Mai - Attraction in Chiang Mai, Thailand - Justgola

Chiang Dao

4. Sukhothai

Sukhothai, which means “the dawn of happiness” in Thai language, is a great place for those wanting to see ancient city ruins. Here, Sukhothai was Thailand’s first capital back in the 13th century C.E., with King Ramkhamhaeng as its founder. Moreover, the ruins have been granted a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it an exclusive attraction all the more.

Ancient temples, like Wat Mahathat, and monuments are also part of the site as well as the Ramkhamhaeng National Museum. Travellers can also visit The Royal Palace for a bit of cultural education. Lastly, Sukhothai features 2 national parks: The Ramkhamhaeng National Park and the Sri Satchanalai National Park. Thus, nature lovers will find each of these areas a great place to spend the day.

A guide to the ruins of Sukhothai, Thailand


5. Mae Sai

Although it is known more as the border run town for those renewing their visas, Mae Sai is a great place to visit on your northern Thailand holiday. The border town is quite bustling as it caters to such visa-runners as well as those wanting to hike through Myanmar’s hill tribes in Eastern Shan state.

Known as the hub for imports and exports, it is a shopping heaven as it is loaded with quirky souvenirs at rock bottom prices. Moreover, it is possible to venture on over the border to the town of Tachileik by paying 500 baht for a day pass. Here, you can explore Myanmar’s border town, which promises some interesting things to do. And, for bragging rights, saying you have been to Myanmar is easily obtainable with the day pass.

Private White Temple, Golden Triangle, Mae Sai, and Karen Village Day Trip

Mae Sai

Excluding Chiang Mai, travellers have a diverse selection of other areas to see while venturing up north. From Lanna hill tribe villages to Sukhothai’s ancient city ruins, there is plenty to do and see. For history buffs, exploring the northern end of the country provides a way to learn by actually experiencing the remnants of ancient Thailand. And, seeing first-hand how the countries of Myanmar and Thailand have been woven together provides an in-depth look at northern Thailand’s societal fusion.


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Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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