The Natural Beauty of Northern Thailand

Northern Thailand

By Nicole Anderson

I had been fortunate enough to visit this wonderful country a couple of times on past trips but my most recent visit (April 2018) took me for the first time to Northern Thailand, which is a stunning contrast to the metropolis of Bangkok and the more popular coastal areas.

Known as the “Rose of the North” Chiang Mai is where I was based, which is quite central to explore all this fabulous region had to offer. The Chiang Mai region is situated much higher geographically than the rest of the country and is known for its mist-shrouded mountains, its lush green valleys and abundance of fauna and flora.

Chiang Mai itself has grown so much recently in what it has to offer in terms of attractions and activities. There are some really great blog posts around these days when it comes to the top things to do in Chiang Mai which I suggest you check out when planning your visit.

While it would just not be possible to pack in everything I saw, experienced and learned into this piece, I have instead included a summary of what I thought were some of the more significant highlights and photos of the what this part of the world has to offer for the outdoor enthusiast.

 

Northern Thailand: A paradise for nature lovers

Here are my top 5 nature-related places from my trip that I really enjoyed and would recommend you to see if/when you visit this corner of the world.

Mae Kajan Hot Spring

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Mae Kajan Hot Spring, Chiang Rai Province, north of Chiang Mai.

I have previously seen natural hot springs/pools/geysers in Japan and New Zealand and even though these weren’t quite in that category in terms of size, this was still worth a stop. This spring is located at Tambol Mae Chedi Mai, Wiang Pa Pao District, Chaing Rai Province (north of Chiang Mai).

This natural feature has become very popular for Thai people as a stopover while travelling between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai or vice versa. The Spring has also become a bit of a tourist attraction and many enjoy getting a wooden basket to boil quail eggs in the water and then eat the eggs as a snack.

The water contains a high concentration of dissolved minerals. Visitors are really captured by the naturally hot spring and in some sections (that are not boiling), love to bath their feet in the natural warmth.

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People relaxing by soaking their feet in the warm waters of the spring.

 

The Golden Triangle

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This monument overlooked where the rivers intersected on the Thai side.

The “Golden Triangle” refers to the area where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet at the confluence of the Mekong and Ruak rivers. The name “Golden Triangle”, coined by the CIA, is commonly used more broadly to refer to an area approximately 950,000 square kilometres (or 367,000 square miles) that overlaps the mountains of these three countries. This area has been one of the most extensive opium-producing areas of Asia, and indeed the world.

So long as you travel in established routes where locals and tourists go, you are really very safe from the dangers associated with the illicit drug trade. In the case of my fiancé and I, we were visiting the area to see the lush vegetation and natural beauty as well as to travel the rivers where the Ruak and Mekong converge between the three nations.

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James, my fiance with myself immediately behind making the journey down and across the rivers.

We hired a local boat (punt) along with other visitors to experience the waters here and it was amazing to see how obvious the demarcation of the different rivers were where they met. You could actually see straight lines that formed separating the different colours of each river! We went up right next to the Myanmar shore and then turned to visit some markets in Donsao, Laos.

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Made it across to Laos!

In Donsao, we took a few photos of the area (including some bottled snakes, scorpions and other creepy crawlies) before doing a bit of Jade shopping where my lovely fiancé bought me a lovely green jade bracelet. We then took the boat (which was really rocky) back to the Thai border to return back south.

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Jars of snakes and all kinds of nasty things were for sale as a novelty at this market.

 

Doi Inthanon National Park

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Entrance to the park

Doi Inthanon National Park covers an area of 482 km² in Chiang Mai province. The park is actually part of the Himalayan mountain range even though the elevation ranges just between 800 and 2565 meters.

Located south of Chiang Mai, the park is one of the most fertile troves of natural treasure in Thailand. The invigorating mountain air and fresh, cooler climate makes it a rejuvenating break from the cities. This area is extremely popular among bird watchers and many tours come here also with people wanting to experience a very different side of Thailand.

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This was one of the sites greeting you near the entrance to the twin chedis.

Aside from the amazing vistas of stunning nature, the park is also home to the Twin Chedis. The twin chedis were constructed by the Thai Royal Air Force to honour the 60th birthday of the King and Queen of Thailand (in 1987 and 1992 respectively). The darker colour chedi with the brown tint (Phra Mahathat Chedi Nophamethanidol) is for the king and the one with the light-blue or lilac hue (Phra Mahathat Chedi Noppholbhumsiri) is for the queen. The area is beautifully landscaped with a stunning display of flowers and on a clear day provides glorious views over Northern Thailand and the mountains of Myanmar/Burma (to the west).

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It was hard to get both chedis in one shot and you can’t really tell from here how big they are.

 

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Me on the balcony area of the King chedi with the Queen chedi in the background.

 

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Beautiful gardens abound all around the twin chedis with natural vegetation beyond.

 

Great Camping Spot in Northern Thailand:

Doi Inthanon HQ is situated at 30.8km near the Ban Khun Klang village of Hmong (Meo) tribe. 500 meters west from the HQ there is a market with few restaurants around, there is also an ATM nearby. The camping area and bungalows are 500 meters north from the junction or nearly 400 meters east of the HQ. Camping gear can be rented at the entrance to the campsite. There are no restaurants in that area, the nearest options are around the HQ and the market. The smaller options of tents for 3 people costs 250 THB/day while bigger ones for 5 people costs 400 THB/day, sleeping bags, matt and pillows included in the price.

 

“The Roof of Thailand”

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Me at the “Roof of Thailand”!

Doi Inthanon within the National Park is the highest mountain in Thailand. It is in Chom Thong District, Chiang Mai Province. This mountain is an ultra-prominent peak, known in the past as Doi Luang (‘big mountain’) or Doi Ang Ka, meaning the ‘crow’s pond top’. These days it is referred to as “the roof of Thailand”.

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Dense vegetation all around the summit.

Due to the higher altitude, the summit has high humidity and cooler weather all year round. The average daily temperatures are normally around 10-12 °C.

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At a pergola at the summit.

Reaching the summit, you can definitely feel the chill and moisture in the air. It was really fun to follow the established path under the canopy of forest branches, noting the different plants and many insects and small lizards as well as to appreciate the cultural monuments there such as the King Inthanon Memorial Shrine.

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King Inthanon Memorial Shrine

 

Wachirathan Waterfall

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Wachirathan Waterfall

This waterfall is really lovely. It is a multi-level fall with a total drop of around 80 metres.

It is reached via a narrow and steep road off the northern side of the highway at roughly the 21 KM mark on highway 1009.

Although the falls are flowing all year, the biggest quantity of water will be flowing during the wet season from May to November.

There is a lot of spray from the falls which creates a rain-like mist that flows down the valley. If you have camera gear or sensitive electronic equipment that may be prone to water damage you may wish to bring protective coverings.

The mist can be at times very impressive to look at and you will almost always see rainbows within. This makes it a popular spot for taking movies and photos.

It is also recommended that you wear appropriate footwear as the area is often slippery and muddy.

 

 

Below is a very quick video shot by my fiance showing me and our guide Maggi at the falls

 

Northern Thailand’s Flora and Fauna

Quite aside from the top 5 attractions/locations of this holiday, I really feel I should make mention of the wildlife flora and fauna that is fairly unique to the region.

Elephants

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At the main entrance to the largest elephant camp in Northern Thailand, housing some 80 elephants.

This majestic animal is the national symbol of Thailand. They are revered where ever you go and there are countless statues, ornaments and images of them across the land. I first came across elephants in Thailand when visiting the resort island of Koh Samui and really fell in love with their intelligence and beautiful personalities.

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An overview of the entire camp and attractions to see and learn all about the elephants.

While in Northern Thailand, I visited the Maesa Elephant Camp and to quote from their website: “This area of the Maesa Valley is home to the largest assembly of domesticated elephants in northern Thailand. Visitors can see the elephants working with their mahouts (trainers), bathing in the river and even painting landscapes!”.

Two of the elephants getting their bath!

 

Mahouts ride their elephants into the arena

 

Playing soccer. The aim of kicking the ball was really good.

A 4 minute compilation of video of the elephants:

I was very fortunate to see all of the activities described above and even got up close and personal with a couple of very large elephants that came by for a cuddle! What a photo opportunity that was! I was halfway between being exhilarated and terrified…

A couple of elephants coming in for a cuddle from behind…

 

Tigers

The largest and often most feared of the cat family, Tigers are looked after these days in wildlife preservation centres, some of which also encourage tourism and (for additional fees) will facilitate photos right up close. How close you might ask? Well at Tiger Kingdom you actually are let into the enclosure and can pat them before (or while) posing for a photo!

Planting a flag at the entrance to Tiger Kingdom after making a donation to wildlife preservation.

 

Tiger Kingdom had a variety of all the big cats and most where understandably under cover during the day.

Now I have considerable respect for the sheer grace, speed, strength and power of these awesome animals and I was not overly keen to push my luck here…not even with experienced trainers with me. So instead I opted to go into the enclosure with some smaller cats to give them a bit of a pat, get a photo or two and then respectfully retreat. One of them even gave me a bit of a kick with his hind paw, much like a domestic cat when annoyed and I took that as my cue to leave! Being up close was a wonderful experience to look back on and their fur is quite soft, although quite thick at the same time.

Feeling particularly brave that day…

 

This guy gave me a kick with his hind paw after this photo was taken and that’s when I thought it best to retreat.

 

Orchids and Butterflies

Not far from Tiger Kingdom is Bai Orchid and Butterfly Farm which, although not overly large in size, contained some wonderful displays of flowers that grow so well here. A visitor who was a keen photographer and lover of nature could probably spend many hours engrossed here. Although I am not a professional photographer by any means, I have included a few shots here of the flora here as well as a couple within the butterfly enclosed area.

 

 

 

 

 

People and Culture

I don’t think any article on the beauty of this area could be complete without talking a little about the wonderful people of Thailand having regard for the cultures and traditions that make up this peaceful country.

Thailand is predominately a Buddhist country and its people are overwhelmingly friendly, courteous and thoughtful.

Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand generally has fascinating natural beauty and cultural heritage. The endless rice paddies that you will find at every corner of the region, tranquil lakes, and lush forests make the atmosphere full of phenomenal calmness.

The temples of Chiang Mai are many and all are just stunning in their design and workmanship. I doubt anyone could visit here and not want to see these amazing structures from the outside and in. Their beauty mirrors that of the fundamental principles of Buddhism and has such a fundamental and lasting impact of serenity for most of the people. It is hard not to be moved.

With fiance James at the famous and beautiful White Temple, Chiang Rai.

Externally, adventure seekers are drawn from all four corners of the globe. During my trip I met a solo woman traveller (Brooke, from Florida USA) who was on extended holidays from her job as a military and civil air traffic controller based in Kabul, Afghanistan! She was having a wonderful time traveling through South East Asia and loved Northern Thailand just as much as I did and focussed a lot on hiking as many scenic treks as she could. Otherwise my fiancé and I met many other couples and singles that could not get enough of the fabulous country and its people.

Below is a video of Brooke and I try a local Thai delicacy…silk worms!

 

Naturally it goes without saying that if you like Thai food, Northern Thailand has some of the most mouth-watering dishes full of taste. Even the mildest Thai curries are so yummy and the ingredients used are all fresh and very healthy for most diets. They also offer Thai cooking classes for tourists who want to be able to show off a few exotic culinary skills back home.

 

So tasty, healthy, looks good…what is not to love about Thai cuisine?

 

While we were there the annual Songkran (Water) Festival also occurred which really should be seen to be appreciated. This festival takes place at the beginning of the New Year in the traditional Thai calendar. The festival is the most important/significant in Thailand, originating in Northern Thailand and involves spraying water on anyone in your vicinity as part of a traditionally spiritually cleansing process. Nowadays the festival has gotten a lot bigger and is all over Thailand.

Water shooting, spraying and throwing on the streets as part of Songkran Festival.

To quote the website: “A feature of the celebration was that some of the lustral water used to bathe the Buddha images was collected. It was then gently poured onto elders and family members as a sign of respect and to ensure good luck and prosperity in the coming year. What has happened in modern times is that this aspect of the celebration has become its central theme, and has become much more intense. The result is that Songkran now resembles a three day water-fight in which any weapon, from high pressure squirt guns to buckets filled with icy water, is considered fair game.

Two standing at the ready – and one shooting at us as we go by, in front of a stall selling water blasters.

It has become very popular with younger Thai people, and the younger tourists from overseas, who see it as three days of fun, rather than a religious festival. In fact, most Thai people are happy to take part in this fun aspect of Songkran, particularly as April is usually the hottest month of the year, when temperatures can top 100º F (40ºC). Every year there are calls from political and religious leaders to moderate the festival, particularly in light of the horrendous carnage on the roads, but every year these calls are ignored.” I had to laugh at James (my fiancé) who got well and truly drenched while traveling in an open tuk-tuk and arrived at our accommodation completely soaked!

A young local girl stands by with her bucket of icy water, ready to soak anyone who passes…the road is definitely not wet due to any rain…

 

Northern Thailand In Summary…

Many enjoy the Northern Thailand region as it’s relatively higher altitude means it is not as hot as other parts of the country. It still has the warmth of hospitality as anywhere else in Thailand and is surrounded by natural beauty. It doesn’t have the crazy-busyness of Bangkok or the same heat of places like Koh Samui or Phuket.

I am so pleased to have come here to discover and experience much of this special part of the world first hand and I know I won’t be the last to want to make this trip, as more and more, the word gets out about everything Northern Thailand has to offer.

Appreciating the intricate beauty of the 600 year old Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep on a mountainside overlooking Chiang Mai.

 

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115 thoughts on “The Natural Beauty of Northern Thailand

  • November 7, 2018 at 12:57 pm
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    Would love to visit Northern Thailand for the hot springs alone! Also love the gorgeous waterfall. That was very brave of you to pat that tiger!

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  • November 7, 2018 at 1:14 am
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    It’s not really a place I’d want to visit but I think it’s one of the most beautiful in the world!

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    • November 7, 2018 at 1:20 am
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      For sure we all differ on our preferences of where we want to visit but certainly most would agree on the beauty of this location. Thanks for reading and commenting Neely.

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  • September 28, 2018 at 10:28 am
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    Wow! Such an amazing adventure! 🙂 I’d definitely love to visit Northern Thailand. I love the way you described everything, very vivid, I had a feeling of being there (and the pictures are great – I especially love the one with the elephants! 🙂 ). Lovely experience, thank you for sharing it with us! 🙂
    Oh, yes, I agree about the local markets and creepy crawlies lol, I’d probably scream. 😀

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    • September 28, 2018 at 11:28 am
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      Thank you so much Scarlet. I truly believe Nothern Thailand has so much to offer beyond what the more touristy areas do. It just feels more natural and genuine and far less commercialised. You really do feel closer to nature there in my view. Thanks so much again for reading and for your kind comments.

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  • August 19, 2018 at 7:19 am
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    Northern Thailand is so much lesser explored than the rest of the country and I made the same mistake when I visited too; I restricted myself to the cliched cities of Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya and Krabi. However, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are two cities I really want to visit on my next trip! Doi Inthanon National Park looks pretty awesome, I’d love to go hiking there. Also, there seem to be some pretty cool waterfalls here. Northern Thailand is beautiful!

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    • August 19, 2018 at 10:25 am
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      It certainly is Medha, no doubt about it. Best wishes for a wonderful trip to both Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai and I know you will love hiking in Doi Inthanon National Park. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

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  • August 17, 2018 at 5:53 pm
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    WOW – northern Thailand looks a lot different from the last I visited! Before, I stayed in Chiang Mai, but now I think I’ll have other places that need to explore! I’d love to visit again and have the same pics of the baby elephants!

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  • August 14, 2018 at 4:55 am
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    Wow, what a complete and detailed guide for Golden Triangle tour in Northern Thailand. You have covered almost everything like temples, exotic nature and animals on this trip. I too loved the intricate sculpture and architectures of temples in Chiang Mai. Those elephants taking bath are so cute. Orchids and butterfly what a deadly combination of two beauties at one place. Thanks for sharing!

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    • August 14, 2018 at 5:21 am
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      Thank you for reading and leaving a comment Yukti. There is no doubt that there is a lot to appreciate in this part of the world and I am so happy to have experienced it and shared it.

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  • August 13, 2018 at 8:20 pm
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    What a great trip to northern Thailand! I love orchids and those were gorgeous. How fun that you were able to take a quick trip into Laos.

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    • August 13, 2018 at 11:21 pm
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      I totally agree that the orchids were just beautiful at the Bai Orchid and Butterfly Farm. It was a highlight as well as the trip across to Laos. Northern Thailand as a whole was such a lovely experience. Thanks so much for reading and commenting Annick.

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  • August 13, 2018 at 3:50 pm
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    This is a fantastic guide to Thailand, or northern Thailand to be specific. The white temple looks spectacular and the waterfalls are amazing. Nice to see that there’s so much to Thailand than just beaches and water sports!

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    • August 13, 2018 at 7:26 pm
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      Thank you so much Sinjana, your comment is really appreciated. You are so right…Thailand has so much more to offer and the north of the country certainly shows this very well.

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  • August 8, 2018 at 10:39 am
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    I like the North of Thailand faaar more than the Southern part and the tourist islands. It’s touristy, too, but not so merciless. People going up North seem to be a bit more interested in Thailand as a country rather than a beach. However, I’m not a fan of using animals for entertaining tourists. Thailand is beautiful and exciting enough, so this attractions shouldn’t be necessary.

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    • August 8, 2018 at 11:29 am
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      Hi Renata. I understand the point you are trying to make regarding the animals. However, the sad reality is that even the most credible animal sanctuaries there need to attract tourists to fund their preservation activities as well as raise awareness of their cause more broadly. For those of us who are supportive of the animals, our support is needed to expand the work they are doing, which I am sure you would be relieved to hear. Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts.

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  • August 7, 2018 at 12:46 pm
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    I have had Thailand on my bucket list for quite some time. I am looking forward to seeing the natural beauty of the country. Also, I think about all of the authentic local cultural experiences I could have there. I’d love to go on a river cruise there and see all of the architecture. And I’d like to see the gorgeous temples.

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    • August 8, 2018 at 11:21 am
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      I think you would see and experience all that and more Angelle. Architecture and temples are plentiful and extremely beautiful as is the culture, people and of course the surrounds. I hope you have as wonderful a time as I did and thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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  • August 7, 2018 at 10:19 am
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    That pic of the natural park is just stunning, with the green and the cascading falls. What was the condition of the sanctuary elephants, did you see? Also, those big cats are definitely not being treated well. See the tiny enclosure the lion was in. At least, it looked really cramped from the picture perspective. Anyways, if you could survive the Golden Triangle unscathed, then I can do it too, and you’re right. YOLO! *you only live once* lol.

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    • August 7, 2018 at 11:36 am
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      Your right that the park is just so beautiful. The condition of the elephants was very good as this was a sanctuary to look after these wonderful animals. The cats were actually treated very well – they were in very large enclosures where they could run and bathe freely. The photo with the lion you referred to – if you have a closer look you will see he is actually relaxing under a bench – not an enclosure at all. I just used the zoom on the camera to get a closer shot of the lion because he was further inside the enclosure. And yes, do visit the Golden Triangle as well as the other natural beauty in the area. Thanks for reading and commenting Kemi.

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  • August 6, 2018 at 8:02 pm
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    Reading your post was a trip down the memory lane! And guess what, we have photos almost at the similar places like you have shared here. Haha! We did a biking trip to Golden Triangle and it has remained one of the best trips of our lives! There is so much more to Norther Thailand apart form Chiang Mai and you post has given a wonderful guide!

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    • August 7, 2018 at 11:29 am
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      Thank you for such a lovely comment Navita. Although we were based at Chiang Mai, our focus was Northern Thailand, hence we travelled a fair bit to see as much of this wonderful region as we could. I’m so pleased you liked this post and that you were kind enough to leave your comment.

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  • August 6, 2018 at 5:11 pm
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    Oh my!! I want to travel to Thailand so bad, all parts of it! Now I’m going to have to try and visit every spot you mentioned…challenge accepted!

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    • August 7, 2018 at 11:25 am
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      Way to go Rachael! There is a lot to see and a lot to take in with respect to the culture and the wonderful people there. Let me know how it goes! Safe and happy travels.

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  • August 6, 2018 at 2:47 pm
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    Ahhhh Chiang Mai was actually just showcased as a destination in the current season of the Bachelorette! This is someplace I really want to visit some day. It looks so beautiful. I am definitely going to be saving your post for future reference!

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    • August 7, 2018 at 11:23 am
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      Thanks so much, Phoebe. I’m sure Northern Thailand would come across very well on TV. Do let me know what your experience is like when you go. Best wishes for a wonderful time.

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  • August 6, 2018 at 12:55 pm
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    Goodness gracious! Northern Thailand is no doubt a beautiful place to explore. As much as I’m already in love with the natural park and the waterfalls, I think I’d spend a whole day soaking up my feet by the hot springs! Sounds so fun!

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    • August 7, 2018 at 11:21 am
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      There were definitely a lot of people that enjoyed putting their feet in the hot springs. It was very relaxing for many. Thanks so much for reading and commenting Dalene, I hope you will visit one day.

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  • August 2, 2018 at 9:51 pm
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    I’m so impressed you ate the silkworm! And you did “cheers” with it! Too funny! Wonderful post and all the pictures are so vibrant.

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    • August 3, 2018 at 12:29 am
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      I was really nervous at the time Shelby! There’s a first time for everything I guess and I the “cheers” was probably more to do with me summoning up the required courage to go ahead and do it! Thank you so much for your lovely comment. It is such a beautiful place, it is probably hard to take a particularly bad photo there.

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  • July 25, 2018 at 6:46 am
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    There is so much more to add to the beauty of Thailand than just Bangkok. People should get inspired from your post and visit other parts of Thailand and discover the true natural beauty it holds for everyone to see and discover.

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    • July 25, 2018 at 7:04 am
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      That is such a lovely and kind comment Neha, thank you so much. I couldn’t agree more that Thailand has so many wonderful locations and attributes that go well beyond Bangkok. Often I think when you get out of the cities, that is where we find where the true beauty of any country lies and Thailand is certainly no exception.

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  • July 24, 2018 at 12:04 pm
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    What a detailed post. Enjoyed the youtube videos especially. This part of Thailand is truly a must visit.

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    • July 24, 2018 at 7:18 pm
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      Thanks very much, Anahita. I agree that this should be a part of any itinerary if you wish to get the full experience on a visit to Thailand. Thank you for reading, watching and leaving a comment.

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  • July 24, 2018 at 10:15 am
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    Looks like you had a lot of fun! I love boat rides and waterfalls, sign me up!

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  • July 23, 2018 at 5:52 pm
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    Wow, Nicole! Such an amazing experience! I’ve never been there but I always dreamed to visit Thailand one day. The only Thai thing I tried is the food and is so good. Hope to do part of this trip in the future!

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    • July 23, 2018 at 10:27 pm
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      Thanks so much, Alessia. I have to agree that I love the food as well. It looks so attractive, is generally very healthy and tastes so great. I hope you visit Thailand and find the surrounds and the people as wonderful as I have.

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  • July 19, 2018 at 4:23 pm
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    Wow, this is incredible! I went to Thailand but never made it up to the north. That’s the area I would definitely plan on visiting when I go back! The areas I was in felt way too touristy for me. Thanks for a great article!

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    • July 19, 2018 at 7:34 pm
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      Hi Kristin. I definitely know what you mean about some places feeling too touristy and this certainly wasn’t the case in many areas up north. I’m so pleased you are considering this region for a future trip. Hope you will share your experiences when this occurs and thank you for reading and commenting.

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  • July 19, 2018 at 2:03 am
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    3 days in Chiang Mai and while I did most of you have mentioned, I missed so much. Like the white temple… Damn. It was a beauty. Guess I should hope for next time 🙂

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    • July 19, 2018 at 8:36 am
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      Wow Ami…you did most of the things covered here in just 3 days? I must say that would be pretty amazing, although I must admit I prefer to take it a bit more easy while on holidays. The main thing is you did experience a lot of it and hopefully you will be able to get back to see more, and hopefully at a more leisurely pace. Thanks so much for reading and leaving a comment.

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  • July 13, 2018 at 12:20 am
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    I recently visited Thailand and I must say the country is dipped in sheer beauty and culture. It has so much to offer. The more you explore, the more there is to explore. I missed on the hot springs and the glorious White Temple of Chiang Rai. That gives me a reason to visit this beautiful land of culture again. Thanks for sharing the details of your trip.

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    • July 13, 2018 at 3:31 am
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      I definitely agree that the hot springs and the White Temple at Chiang Rai would both be great reasons to return and discover even more on your next trip. I hope you have a truly wonderful time Shaily and thank you so much for your comment.

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  • July 12, 2018 at 7:13 am
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    I find this site very interesting and empowering to the women who want to start hiking and solo travelling. This post about northern Thailand is another great post as most people including myself don’t see Thailand as a hiking destination. Chang Mai seems so beautiful
    And so peaceful in contrast to the craziness of Bangkok. Thanks for sharing another great post.

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    • July 12, 2018 at 11:28 am
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      Thank you for such a lovely comment Amar. I agree Thailand might not be seen as a hiking destination as such but it certainly does have wonderful flora and fauna to enjoy. You are definitely right about the massive difference to the metropolis of Bangkok – no comparison at all really. Many people (myself included) love Thailand’s beach areas and islands and I think many overlook the northern part of the country which has a lot to offer.

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  • July 11, 2018 at 5:07 pm
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    Wow, those pictures are breathtaking. I love waterfalls. I am so happy for you that you were able to go experience that.

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  • July 11, 2018 at 4:28 pm
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    Wow this looks amazing!! Def putting it on my bucket list!

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  • July 11, 2018 at 4:52 am
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    I should visit Thailand. Esp., it being my neighbouring country, I should definitely go.
    Its indeed a beautiful mix of heritage and nature, the 2 aspects of any place that fascinates me.

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  • July 10, 2018 at 6:01 pm
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    We also visited Northern Thailand earlier this year and loved the natural beauty of the landscape. I was captivated by both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai but even more so by the mountainous and lush habitat. We did an overnight trip to visit an Akha hill tribe community up by the border with Burma which was just stunning. I didn’t get to try the hot springs though we stopped briefly at some on the road from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai. Would love to do that next time.

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    • July 11, 2018 at 12:44 am
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      Your trip to visit the Akha hill tribe sounds really fabulous Kavey. I’m sure you would have taken some lovely photos there. The region near Burma (or Myanmar) is all just so lush and beautiful as you say. Thank you so much for reading and leaving a comment.

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  • July 10, 2018 at 7:16 am
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    I’m so envious! I also want to travel with my boyfriend. You and your fiance look good together! Thanks for this guide. I’ll show this to my boyfriend and invite him to Thailand!

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  • July 10, 2018 at 4:19 am
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    Thailand, my second home! This makes me miss Thailand so much but I’m happy that we’ll be back there again at the end of this year! So, what do they do with the bottle of snakes, scorpions and some creepy creatures? Yay! So how was the situation of the elephants in the sanctuary? They’re super adorable!

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    • July 11, 2018 at 12:39 am
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      That’s great to hear you are headed back again, Catherine. The bottles you refer to are often used for traditional medicinal purposes and some of them considered to be delicacies. The elephants in the sanctuary were wonderful. Just love them. Hope you have a fabulous time there again at the end of the year.

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  • July 10, 2018 at 12:42 am
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    Thailand is truly one of those gem of Asia. I can’t wait to have my trip two weeks from now and hope i will have an amazing experience like yours. Which part of Chiang Mai is your favorite?

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    • July 11, 2018 at 12:36 am
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      Wow, Blair! That is exciting and I wish you have a truly wonderful trip. It is really hard for me to nominate just one part that is my favourite. Although when it comes to where to stay, my preference is to be in the old part of Chiang Mai which many say is the more authentic area where it comes to experiencing time with the people and culture.

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  • July 9, 2018 at 8:37 pm
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    Oh gosh. I’m not sure I’d want to get in a cage with a tiger. I’ve been up close to elephants like this too though and absolutely love them .

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    • July 11, 2018 at 12:32 am
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      I absolutely agree with you there Anne! Just prior to the event, I was really nervous even though the Tigers looked very relaxed at the time. The elephants though would definitely be my favourite! Thank you for reading and commenting.

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  • July 9, 2018 at 6:02 pm
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    You show us nice places of Thailand 🙂 I have been going to Thailand for number of years but never really went to the North but I will definitely change that 😉
    I have never heard of the roof of Thailand but would love to go there. The Golden Triangle is still a must on my list to visit 🙂

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    • July 11, 2018 at 12:30 am
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      Marlies – As you have been multiple times to Thailand, I totally think you would love both the Roof of Thailand in the north as well as the Golden Triangle. This is just a beautiful country all over I think.

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  • July 9, 2018 at 2:35 pm
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    To be honest with you every time I hear about Northern Thailand I see elephants! I actually had no idea that there is so many wonderful attractions to see and stuff to do! How amazing! I never been to any hot springs to that would be something amazing! And how cool with that water on the board lines! And this waterfall! I love waterfalls so much and this one looks so stunning! Thank you for sharing this post, now I know I definitely have to plan a trip back to Thailand!

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    • July 11, 2018 at 12:28 am
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      Thank you so much Ada for such a lovely comment. I think Thailand is a place where many people intend to visit once and then continue going back for so many reasons. Thank you for reading.

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  • July 9, 2018 at 10:00 am
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    Northern Thailand seems to be truly beautiful. So much to see and discover, especially the National park looks very beautiful. I also once made an elephant ride in South of Thailand and I have the deepest respect for these gentle giants. Great to see them having fun there bathing in the river. The Jars of snakes and scorpions look really special, I guess they are for eating?

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    • July 11, 2018 at 12:26 am
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      The various jars are supposed to be for various purpose, or so I was told Hendrik. The info I was given was that some of them were for medicinal (long life etc), others for virility and some considered as an eating delicacy. Silm worms though were about my limit. I love the elephants as well and the national park was really pretty.

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  • July 8, 2018 at 9:44 pm
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    I have visited Thailand over 10 times but never have I travelled north. It’s akways the beaches that have appealed to me in Thailand but after reading this post surely will want to visit it. You ha r sold the best of the north to me from Chang Mai to the waterfalls Such great natural beauty. Would live to visit and see the elephants with my kids. Thanks for sharing some top tips.

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    • July 11, 2018 at 12:22 am
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      Wow Amar, that’s a lot of trips there! I too love the beach areas in Thailand but I had read quite a bit about what the north of the country had to offer and wanted to see it for myself. It is a totally different experience and I loved it.

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  • July 8, 2018 at 3:32 pm
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    I don’t know if I could visit Thailand. I have a super super severe peanut allergy and it’s in everything there. So I’d be super cautious if I ever went. That’s cool you got to hang out with elephants and tigers!

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    • July 11, 2018 at 12:14 am
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      Hi Nina. I think you are right that peanuts are used a lot in food over there, but there are also many yummy dishes that definitely do not. As you say, you would need to be cautious and check that no traces of peanut was in anything you wanted to eat. Elephants and tigers are definitely cool.

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  • July 8, 2018 at 11:50 am
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    My friend just came back from a vacation in Thailand. She spent a week there with her family and she has all these wonderful stories about her experience in Thailand. Looking at your pictures confirm that Thailand is a fun place to visit!

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  • July 8, 2018 at 7:01 am
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    It sure looks like you maximized the time you spent in Thailand. It was nice that you were able to see and do so much! I wish we could travel there too!

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  • July 7, 2018 at 7:05 pm
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    Okay, couple things Nicole. First, your expression in that first photo with the tiger – ? You looked a little teensy uneasy! Can’t figure out why on Earth you’d be tentative!! ?

    The National Park is now on my bucket list. That summit pergola… just stunning. What an awesome trip!

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    • July 7, 2018 at 10:28 pm
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      Yes, Natalie… there’s no doubt about it. Among the two of us in the photo, I was the scare-dee cat! I am certain you would love Doi Inthanon National Park and the summit. I really did love the trip.

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  • July 7, 2018 at 11:22 am
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    I really love northern Thailand, and remember my time there well. It’s so cool you go to the top of Thailand; I wish I had done that while there. I would suggest that you look into the treatment of elephants there. Playing football is not normal, so the process they went through was most like not a pleasant one for them. I avoid all forms of animal tourism like this, unless it strictly shows the animals are being cared for in a humane way.

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    • July 7, 2018 at 12:39 pm
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      Hi Lisa – thanks for your comment. I couldn’t agree more about recognizing the importance of not supporting any enterprise that harms or inhumanely treats any animals. There were a large choice of elephant camps we could have gone to and decided in the end to go with Maesa because of an independent (not affiliated) assurance we received of the good they do in respect to rescuing, saving and well-treating elephants. Fortunately, the word is spreading among tourists now not to support places that can’t demonstrate they are doing the right thing and this is starting to have an effect on those less scrupulous operators. With any luck, the days of these terrible practices might be numbered.

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  • July 7, 2018 at 4:40 am
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    Oh Thailand, so beautiful! It’s very near the top of my bucket list of places to travel to hopefully in 2019! Thanks for the inspo.

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    • July 7, 2018 at 12:35 pm
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      You’re really welcome Nadalie. Thank you also for reading and making a comment. I truly wish you a wonderful trip and fingers crossed that it is 2019. I’m sure you would love it.

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  • July 7, 2018 at 4:38 am
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    Wow! Lovely pics! Last time I was in northern thailand was about 10 years ago – I can definitely use all these tips on my next travel plans!

    Love the pic of Wachirathan waterfall!!

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    • July 7, 2018 at 12:33 pm
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      Thanks Mick – when you go back, I’d be interested to know if there are any significant changes you notice since you last visited. Thanks again for your kind comment.

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  • July 7, 2018 at 4:19 am
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    Wow what an absolutely beautiful and amazing adventure!!! It looks lovely me such a beautiful place to explore!!

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    • July 7, 2018 at 12:31 pm
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      Trust me when I say it really is beautiful Daisy. There is just so much to explore and ultimately visitors are only limited by time and imagination. Thank you for commenting.

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  • July 7, 2018 at 4:17 am
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    What a beautiful place with so many sites and animals!

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  • July 7, 2018 at 3:58 am
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    I liked the picture of Mae Kajan Hot Spring . In fact all pictures are awesome. thanks a lot for the information, it was a great read.

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  • July 7, 2018 at 3:45 am
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    Thailand has been on my bucket list for years!! Looks like you had a wonderful adventure, love all the pics!

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  • July 6, 2018 at 7:40 pm
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    Ahh, Thailand has been on the top of my travel list for years. I really want to meet a baby elephant . . . they’re my favorite!

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  • July 6, 2018 at 3:59 pm
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    Thailand is such a beautiful country! I was fortunate to be able to visit many times during my military career. The people are so friendly and there is just so much culture to take in! I loved visiting the temples and nature parks most.

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  • July 6, 2018 at 2:08 pm
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    Wonderful elaborate post on northern Thailand. There is a variety of stuffs to do there. I love Thai cuisine but eating a silkworm? I may not be able to do that 😀 😀

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    • July 7, 2018 at 12:22 pm
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      Believe me Indrani, I had to think twice before giving it a go. But I figured it couldn’t kill me and you only get to live once, so why not experience something different?

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  • July 6, 2018 at 10:50 am
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    You had me at the Golden Triangle monument! I’m actually planning to go to this spot maybe some time next year, but I’m actually planning to get there while visiting Laos and Cambodia. As for now, I haven’t got any plan to pass Northern Thailand. At least not yet. I’m wondering what the best route to take to get there without having to mess up the route. Otherwise, I suppose exploring Northern Thailand is not a bad idea either. It seems like a good place to visit and I’ve never been there either. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

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    • July 7, 2018 at 12:20 pm
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      Hi Marya. That’s exciting about your upcoming trip to Laos and Cambodia. A while back I actually lived in Cambodia for 12 months and there is a lot to see. If you are thinking of visiting Northern Thailand, the crossing would obviously be through Laos and a lot would depend on what time you could allow for the trip and what you are keen to see across these 3 countries. That’s the exciting part when planning out all the options – although with Laos I would exercise some caution, especially if you are travelling alone. I hope this article gives you some ideas where it comes to Northern Thailand and I wish you all the best for a wonderful trip.

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  • July 6, 2018 at 9:47 am
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    Looks like you had a memorable and breathtaking experience in Northern Thailand! I love the photos <3

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  • July 6, 2018 at 7:33 am
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    I think it doesn’t matter where you go in Thailand it’s just breathtakingly beautiful all over that incredible country! Haven’t been to the North so much yet but your article is a sign for me 😉

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    • July 7, 2018 at 12:10 pm
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      Thanks Kate. Before my last trip, I think I was pretty much the same as you when it came to visiting the north, but this trip really showed me that there is so much to enjoy here also. Wonderful country for sure!

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  • July 6, 2018 at 2:14 am
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    Wow this looked like quite the trip! I would love to get to visit someday!

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  • July 6, 2018 at 12:45 am
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    All of your pictures came out so beautiful! I would love to visit Thailand – but I’m not so sure about some of those things they were selling in the local markets lol

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    • July 7, 2018 at 12:06 pm
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      If you are talking about the interesting fermented scorpions, snakes etc…I definitely agree, although these technically were just across the border in Laos. There were also some questionable things for sale in some Thai stores, especially the silkworms for example that many of us are just not used to. However, many do enjoy purchasing and using these items otherwise there obviously wouldn’t be a market for them. I do get what you mean though and thanks for commenting.

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