The Best of Chiang Mai Trekking

by Guest

Chiang Mai Trekking - Introduction

Chiang Mai is the capital of the north, a beautiful city surrounded by a wonderful scenery of sub-tropical jungle, mountains, waterfalls and rushing rivers. Though still humid, it’s elevation makes it considerably cooler than the south, making it one of the best places in Thailand for trekking . Though walking can be done at any time of year, it is best between October and March when the skies are clear and dry. The rainy season brings with it muddy challenges but can be rewarding. There are myriad trekking options, but here are some of the best and most famous.

hmong-village-trek-thailand

Trekking towards the Hmong village nestled deep in the hills on northern Thailand. Photo by jeffr_travel

Trek up Doi Chiang Chao

Sitting at 7,000 feet above sea level, Doi Chiang Chao is one of the highest mountains in the kingdom. There are several trails that led up to its summit, all of which are as good as each other. It’s a day trek, but the steep trails are challenging even to accomplished hikers. It’s best to do in the high season between November and April, as the rest of the time the trails are almost impassable. Along the way, you’ll see the foothills carpeted in rare orchids and mountain wildlife including birds. When you reach the top, enjoy spectacular views across Chiang Mai province. Taxis can easily be arranged to take you out to the park.

Trek through the Mae Sa Valley

The rolling farmland, sub-tropical forests and terraced rice paddies make the Mae Sa Valley particularly scenic. It’s one of the easiest trekking spots to reach from Chiang Mai, but for some reason has never become very well know with tourists. The trails are well signposted and you can jump in a taxi to reach the starting point. When you reach the area of outstanding national beauty, you’ll wonder why it’s not swarming with tourists. Though the trails can be hiked in a day, it’s well worth packing a tent and spending the night, surrounding by the crooking of frogs and crickets and the full view of the stars overhead.

Trek through Doi Inthanon National Park

This day trek is one of the best in the area. Located south west of Chiang Mai City, the Doi Inthanon National Park is carpeted in lush green foliage and cascading waterfalls. Though there are plenty of trails, be sure to hike the Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail is winds its way up the mountain passing beautiful viewpoints to the summit. Much wildlife include exotic colourful birds can be seen along the way. It can be completed in just a few hours and costs US $6 entrance fee, but that includes a mandatory guide to led you along the trail.

Trek from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son

If you have plenty of time, the 8-day trek from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son, a province located close to the border with Myanmar, is an amazing journey. Trekking through the sub-tropically forests, passing towering cascades, crossing rapids, and stopping in little rural villages, it’s highly rewarding. Along the way, you’ll encounter very few (if any) other hikers. The length of the trail and the lack of signposting means this is certainly best taken with an experience guide. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a wild elephant or two.

hiking-chiang-rai-hills-fog

Hiking in Chaing Rai province in Thailand. Photo by Joaquin Uy

Trek from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai

Further north of Chiang Rai is the lesser visited and smaller city of Chiang Rai. It’s biggest draw is the huge white temple, but few know about the incredible 10 day trial that takes adventurous walks past so incredible scenery back to Chiang Mai. It’s a challenging hike – hot, humid and not always well signposted, but that’s what makes it so rewarding. Camping is not particularly comfortable in Thailand due to the heat, but on this trek, that’s not a problem. Along the way you can stop in little villages and stay with locals offering an authentic slice of rural Thai life. The trail takes you through the amazing Do Luang National Park and the hill tribe villages, ending in the spectacular city of Chiang Mai. Again, the length of this means it’s best taken accompanied by a guide.

Trek Pang Mapha

This much shorter trek is one of the most popular with travellers. Located outside of Chiang Mai, the trek passes pretty little villages, dense forests, waterfalls, lakes and paddy field terraces. Along the way, hikers can stay with the interesting Lahu community to learn about their way of life. You can also board bamboo rafts to complete part of the journey, spotting wild elephants and wildlife along the Nam Lang River. The trek ends back in Chiang Mai where you can enjoy a much needed rest.

There are dozens of tour operators and adventure companies offering treks and hikers around Chiang Mai. Before you go ahead and part with your money, it is well worth doing your research. First check that the tour operator or adventure company is TAT licensed, something which all travel operations need to have before they can expect guests. Look online to see the company’s reputation on TripAdvisor, but take any bad reviews with a pinch of salt. Before you book, check that the company has an environment policy and exactly what you will be getting such as a private guide, equipment, all meals, a stay in with a local family and water. Chiang Mai and the surrounding area, through hilly, does not have the extremes of elevation, so there is no need to acclimatize before setting off, through it is recommended to be well rested and in good shape. In rainy season, be sure to bring an umbrella as rains are almost guaranteed every day. It’s also worth bringing some decent walking boots and light clothing. Mosquitoes can be a problem, and though you currently don’t need malaria tablets, this may change so always check with your travel nurse before departing. Even so, preventing bites is always the best measure. Cover your wrists and ankles during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most prevalent, use DEET spray or natural lemon rub and if you can, use nets at night. We recommend avoiding camping in the most part as it can get very humid.

You may also like to read more trekking related articles:

- 101 guide to trekking

- Kilimanjaro vs Mt Everest

- 4 coolest treks in Ladakh

- Hiking shoes

Cover image by Ben and Katherine .

Popular Posts

Best Places to Stay in Koh Samui

Things to Do in Koh Lanta

Peru Treks - the Best

Best Time to Visit Peru

Boat Rentals in Drubovnik

Sailing Holidays in Croatia

How to go From Bangkok to Koh Samui

What to do in Krabi

Hiking Gloves - Which Ones to Buy?

Why Maldives Vacation is The Best

Best Beaches in Cebu

Best Beaches Near Manila

Fishes in Fiji - for Your Next Diving Trip

Beaches in Peru That You Should Visit

Everest Base Camp Trekking

Annapurna Base Camp vs Circuit Trek

Costa Rica Facts - Did you know?

Iceland in February - Best Time to Visit

What to Wear in Iceland

Places to Visit in Maldives

Facts About Mount Kilimanjaro

Best Time to Climb Kilimanjaro

Cost to Climb Kilimanjaro

Related Tags

hikingTrekkingThailandChiang-Mai

Related Blogs

Thailand

Chiang Mai Elephant Camps: The Inside Story

Author:Kshaunish Jaini

Distance between Bangkok and Pattaya

Author:Guest

The best beach in Pattaya

Author:Guest

Snorkeling Phuket

Author:Guest

Pattaya points of interest

Author:Guest

Best Phi Phi Island Accommodation For All Budgets

Author:Guest

Long Beach Koh Lanta

Author:Guest

Phuket to Krabi

Author:Guest

Getting from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi

Author:Guest

Pattaya nightlife

Author:Guest

Where to Stay in Phuket

Author:Guest

Chiang Mai to Pai: Northern Thailand on Two Wheels

Author:Kshaunish Jaini

Muay Thai in Pai: Thailand Training Camp

Author:Kshaunish Jaini

Sairee Beach Thailand

Author:Guest

Similan Liveaboard - Best Diving Experience in Thailand

Author:Guest

Hiking in Thailand

Author:Ankit

Getting from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Author:Guest

Chiang Mai's Best Points of Interest

Author:Guest

Your Guide to Ferry to Phi Phi

Author:Guest

Phuket Tours

Author:Guest

Koh Lanta Weather Guide

Author:Guest

Snorkeling in Koh Lanta - the Best in Thailand

Author:Guest

Phuket to Koh Samui - Best Ways to Travel

Author:Guest

Best Places to Stay in Krabi

Author:Guest

Krabi Beaches - The Best You Did not Know About!

Author:Guest

What to Do in Krabi

Author:Guest

Things To Do in Patong

Author:Guest

How to Go From Krabi to Koh Lanta?

Author:Guest

Where to Stay in Krabi

Author:Guest

Best Places to Stay in Koh Samui

Author:Ankit

Things to Do in Koh Lanta

Author:Guest

Chiang Mai night safari

Author:Guest

Krabi to Phi Phi - Ways to Travel

Author:Guest

How to Get to Koh Lanta

Author:Guest

Bangkok to Pattaya - Ways to Travel

Author:Guest

Krabi Airport to Ao Nang

Author:Guest

How to Travel From Bangkok to Koh Samui

Author:Guest

Koh Lanta beaches

Author:Guest

Chiang Mai tours

Author:Guest

Koh Lanta Hotels

Author:Guest

Phi Phi Island Tour

Author:Guest

Similan island diving

Author:Guest

Krabi Attractions - You Cannot Miss

Author:Guest

Lamai beach

Author:Guest

Chiang Mai Rafting

Author:Guest

Kayaking in Koh Phi Phi: A Comprehensive Guide

Author:Kshaunish Jaini

Maya Bay Phi Phi

Author:Guest

Things to do in Chiang Mai

Author:Guest

Chiang-Mai