The nature around Chiang Mai is impressive, 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 during the day, nevertheless today it’s becoming easier to combine two of them in the same valley.
In the case of the beautiful mountains Doi Inthanon and Chiang Dao, both national parks, nature offers a great opportunity to spend one or two nights to make the most out of the trip and also meet the hill tribes, if you feel like it.
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 to a higher probability of rain.
From November to mid-February, it’s the ideal time to go north. In December and January, the temperatures drop, the nights are cool and even cold as you gain altitude during the excursions.
From mid-February to mid-May, the forest is drier and the atmosphere less clean. Cultural visits and the hill tribes should get your attention.
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.
Sports activities in the rivers like rafting can be carried out with well-prepared companies and international safety standards, nevertheless, we do not recommend them when parents are newbies in this type of activities, that is, with no previous experience.
Mae Taeng Valley
In this valley there are a few camps of elephants, among which the famous Elephant Nature Park, very prestigious but sometimes saturated with visitors.
You can also find whitewaters rafting businesses and resorts.
Maybe it has against the time needed to approach from Chiang Mai, go and back.
Elephant camp. The staff takes good care of them and the visit includes the bathing in the river.
If you are interested, you can make the reservation here.
Elephant Sanctuary Chiang Mai Day Trip.
Always remember to check the reviews of other travellers to ensure that the elephants receive good care.
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 and watching the beautiful video about Doi Inthanon (enjoythailand.fun).
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.
In addition to the leisure and health facilities based on the hot sulphur springs, a curious and fun activity here is cooking eggs in one of the pools. Two hot springs 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.