NW Thailand

Guy Tetreault

The diversity of the North Western region of Thailand, which comprises the two mountainous provinces of Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son, has made it one of the most popular areas in Thailand for tourism. The region has so much to offer today's adventure seeking tourists, with its many mountain ranges, breathtaking scenery, isolated Hill Tribe villages, teeming wildlife, unique flora and fauna, tropical rainforests, towering waterfalls and swirling rivers. Here in the North West you will discover many fascinating cultures; explore diverse and ancient architecture; seek adventures in the mountains, jungles and rivers; shop yourself silly in the dozens of markets; enjoy some of the most stunning scenery in Thailand, chill out in one the many isolated, laid back picturesque provincial towns; or just indulge yourself with the many delights of Chiang Mai, Thailand's largest northern city. Whole industries have grown up in the North West to provide ever more tourist activities, such as mountain trekking, rock climbing, white water rafting, kayaking, nature trailing, living with elephants in their natural habitats, staying in Hill tribe villages, tree-top zip lining, caving, and much more. The region also has its own fascinating history and has many unique cultures that still survive today. The original Lanna Kingdom around Chiang Mai dates back to 13th Century and has distinctive food, music, arts, traditional dress and language. Mae Hong Son province which borders Burma was largely cut off from the rest of Thailand until the 1980s. The predominant culture here is Tai Yai (Shan), although there is a host of other, individual ethnic tribes living in the hills and valleys of the North West - each with their own very distinctive cultures. With the region's abundance of fascinating ancient temples and monuments, drawn from Lanna, Sukhothai, Ayutthaya and Shan-Burmese architectural styles, it's a cornucopia of living history for the cultural tourist. Climb Thailand's highest mountain in Doi Inthanon national park; chill out in Tha Ton; soak up the "Little Tuscany" of Chiang Dao; enjoy the unique backpacker's ambience of Pai; go white-water rafting from any number of towns in the region, or visit the Hill Tribes and soak in their distinctive cultures. No matter what you do, you will enjoy the friendly folk and the unbelievably glorious scenery.

Map of North West Thailand

North West Thailand-Map