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Northern Thailand in Less than a Week

It’s a common question to hear while traveling, “What can I see in X days in X city.” Everyone wants to maximize their time while visiting a new spot. Perhaps you’re the type to just chill and pretend you don’t have a flight in the week, or you’re the mad person hardly sleeping and seeing everything humanly possible in the area. Either type can find their solace while exploring the north of Thailand. Just read a bit about the areas, then pick your style of traveling.

A Very Brief Intro to North Thailand

Mae Hong Son

Karen Hilltribe Girl

The main highlights for this province is its trekking and hilltribe villages. There are gorgeous views from the mountain tops, often of the neighbor, Myanmar, in the distance. The border town has a few notable temples, waterfalls, and the long-necked Karen village.



This spot is a little haven. It’s a down to earth, natural, chill town with hippie vibes and good people. Definitely not off the tourist map, yet still not overly touristy and crowded. The town is very small and quaint, just enough. Natural beauty is everywhere. Waterfalls, mountains, rivers, hot springs and more. You can get lost for days (/months) here.

Chiang Mai

Doi Suthep

Tons and tons of culture and history here. It’s the second largest city, but it’s nothing like a huge city. It somehow still feels close and connected. Chiang Mai is great for city and nature lovers alike. Some of the most notable temples are here, like Doi Suthep. Hiking, climbing, caves and city parks. The food is exceptional and abundant.

Possible day trips from Chiang Mai:

Doi Inthanon is the tallest mountain in the country and is a national park with chedis, waterfalls, caves and a beautiful garden.

Chiang Dao National Park has caving, camping, trekking, hot springs, and waterfalls.

Chiang Rai

This spot is most famous for the white temple, Wat Rong Khun. A stunning, sparkly and stark white temple. Here you can also get the chance to see the border between Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar, known as the Golden Triangle. Day trips from Chiang Mai are available to save on time.

Possible Itineraries in Under 7 Days

There are plenty of things to do, but not every traveler is the same. So here are a few ways you can mix things up in the north of Thailand. There are also companies, such as First Choice, who can assist in making your travel plans.

Chill out:

You could get lost in Pai, a wise choice in my opinion, and spend a few days in Chiang Mai…If you want. Whatever.

Maximize your time here:

  • Day 1-2: Use Chiang Mai as your base. I would take two or so days to experience Chiang Mai, walk around, go the markets, see the million temples and have a fun night out.
  • Day 3: Take a day trip to Doi Inthanon.
  • Day 4: Take a day trip to Chiang Rai.
  • Day 5-6: Chill in Pai
  • Day 7: Travel back to Chiang Mai


If you love riding on a motorbike, then try out the Mae Hong Son Loop. You will start and end in Chiang Mai while seeing Mae Sariang, Mae Hong Son, and Pai. If you don’t stop and enjoy, the loop takes around four days. So this will be a tight squeeze, but it is possible in seven days.

More Culture:

  • Day 1-3: Chiang Mai
  • Day 4-6: Mae Hong Son
  • Day 7: Travel back to Chiang Mai

Less than a week:

If you have less than 7 days it might be best to stay put in the Chiang Mai area as a base. See as much of the city as you want and then take day trips. This way there’s no time being wasted moving to a new town and getting accommodation.

Photos by Claire Backhouse, Dennis Jarvis and n1kw

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About Nina

Nina Ragusa lives the nomadic lifestyle and is currently calling Thailand home. Since she has the luxury of teaching online and freelance writing she can make anywhere in the world her office. From the ridiculously beautiful beaches of Krabi to the sweet hippy town of Pai, Nina travels, writes, and lives the nomadic lifestyle that she has always wanted.

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