Chiang Mai - Chiang Dao - Thaton - Mae Salong - Chiang Saen
This morning you’ll be picked up at around 8am at your hotel in Chiang Mai by your driver and guide to start your journey past fruit plantations and vegetable gardens towards Chiang Dao. Here you can explore the famous cave system, which consists of more than 100 caves extending up to 12 km into the mountains. These caves were traditionally considered a place for meditation and prayer, exemplified by the presence of Buddha statues inside. Once you’ve had a chance to look around you will continue onto Thaton, a quiet little town on the border with Myanmar. From here, you will take a private long tail boat up the scenic river to the border before returning to Thaton for a traditional Thai lunch.
After lunch you’ll continue your trip with a drive to the top of the 1350m high mountain, Doi Mae Salong, where you can enjoy spectacular views across the mountainous landscape. Several hill tribes, such as the Yao, Lisu and Akha, inhabit this area. In these high mountains, opium was once grown, but now the farmers produce vegetables, mountain rice and tea. The village of Mae Salong, also known as Santikhiri which translates as hill of peace, is originally a settlement of Nationalist Chinese troops who fled here from Southern China after the communist takeover in 1949. Santikhiri has a distinct Chinese atmosphere with decorations and ornaments in the streets. At the end of this full first day you will arrive in Chiang Saen where you will stay in a hotel right on the Mekong river. Once you have checked into your hotel, you can take your first walk along the legendary Mekong River and dine at one of the local restaurants.
Chiang Saen - Tachilek (Myanmar) - Chiang Rai
After breakfast on the terrace of your hotel overlooking the Mekong you’ll have time to explore more of Chiang Saen. The former capital of the first Thai Kingdom is situated directly on the Mekong River at the border between Thailand and Laos. During your time in Chiang Saen you can visit Wat Phra That Jom Kitti by climbing 383 steps to the top of the hill or Wat Chedi Luang. Afterwards you’ll continue to the Golden Triangle where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet, lunch will be in a local restaurant. If you’re interested, you can also visit the Hall of Opium; a museum that tells the story of opium cultivation and smuggling in this area.
After lunch you’ll go to Mae Sai, a lively town on the border with Myanmar. At the border crossing your guide will help you buy a day visa for Myanmar which is approximately 500THB per person which is payable locally. After you cross the border you will explore the town of Tachilek by tuk-tuk, you’ll visit the Temple of the Enrobened Elephant and the Mahamyatmuni Temple, a fine example of typical Burmese temple architecture, before continuing on to Tachilek’s own Shwedagon Pagoda, a smaller copy of the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. After your exciting visit to Myanmar you will go back over the border to Thailand and continue to Chiang Rai for a night in a comfortable resort.
Your cultural Thailand experience comes to an end today after your breakfast in Chiang Rai, and from here you can continue your trip to your next destination.
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