We did a road trip in Northern Thailand for 4 weeks to visit beautiful Nan and did the Mae Hong Son loop, you can shorten the trip to focus on one part Nan or Mahe Hong Son.
We did this road trip in 4 weeks but if you do have not enough time you can do it in 20 days also.
We chose to fly to Chiang Mai because it was the easiest way to return to Utapao airport near where we living. But you can also fly directly to Nan from Bangkok.
For many locations, we visit I included the google maps locations for you, so if you follow this itinerary you never can be lost. Just click the links and you always can find back the places I suggested.
Some hotels have Booking.com links and some homestays have a Facebook link because many homestays in Thailand just use Facebook to accept bookings or have Cloudbeds on their Facebook, most times you can find it at the top of their Facebook page on the right.
I suggest you also download Line a Thai messenger app like WhatsApp as many Thais use only Line and you can better communicate with them via Line
On the first night, we stayed in the old center of Chiang Mai at Parasol Inn and walked around the center of the old city where you can find many beautiful temples. We slept in a basic room with no breakfast on a budget as Chiang Mai has many good-budget places.
The next day we drove for breakfast to Nekoemon cafe which is about a 10-minute drive. It was a weekday and very quiet. We went here to take pictures in the Japanese garden which is very photogenic. The breakfast was also very good at a reasonable price.
From Chiang Mai to Nan is about a 5 hours drive, overnight we stayed at Ban Na Kang Tong which is a very beautiful resort with Swedish-style cottages around a rice field. Baan Na Kang Tong in Thai means “cottages in the middle of the field”- the hotel is tucked in between two hills and surrounded by forests, where visitors can see the early morning mists rolling through.
The price included a very good breakfast and afternoon tea at the cafe. It just opened a glamping spot where you can enjoy bbq food in the evening by the campfire. We really loved this place they take care very well. You can also easily visit the old city of Nan which is 10 min by car and in the evening there is a night market and you can visit some beautiful temples.
After 2 nights we continue our trip to Sappan Valley we stopped at ·Ban Tai Lue Coffee which is considered a popular café that draws tourists to stop by when visiting Pua District. The coffee shop has a unique feature that is located in the middle of a rice field and offers pleasant scenery. There’s also the bamboo bridge you can walk further to see more views. another top-hit photo spot is the long walkway decorated with colorful woven fabrics which of course, you can get a good image from that point.
We continue our trip over Road no.3 Bo Kluea Road is another point that Thai tourists like to take a picture of. With the zigzag winding road up to the mountain right before your eyes, I promise it looks stunning. And if you decide to stop and snap a photo shot, please be careful with the car. Because cars on this road tend to drive fast since it’s a way up and down the hill, take good care of yourself.
To make you a big picture of Sapan Village, I describe the place as a small village surrounded by mountains. You can take a leisurely walk while enjoying the natural landscape of mountains, and rice paddies and experience the way of village life. The best time to visit Baan Sapan is the rainy season which is during the green rice fields in August – October. For those who want to see the fog scenery, it’d be better if you plan a visit in Winter. But I think the green paddy fields are more aesthetic.
A must-see viewpoint of Baan Sapan, I’d recommend you to go up to ‘Wat Sapan’ (Sapan Temple) which is another spot you can take a walk and see a panoramic view of Sapan Village and its beautiful rice fields. In the village Bo Kluea, there is an ancient salt well to visit which is 10 minutes from Sapan. Google maps to the cafe where the viewpoint is
Things to do in Sapan
Sapan Waterfall The waterfall is known for its stunning beauty and peaceful setting, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. It's just a short walk from the parking lot
Visit the viewpoint at Wat Sapan and see a panoramic view of Sapan Village and its beautiful rice fields
Rice terraces, The Pid Thong Lang Phra Project greenery of rice terraces and the splendor of the mountains are lined up alternately in a beautiful way If anyone wants to come to see the green of the rice fields Must come during the rainy season From September onwards. As for the period from late October to November then Will be in winter During this period, it will experience cold weather and yellow rice fields instead. Even though it is beautiful in another way, it is as beautiful as before.
Ancient Salt Ponds have been around since ancient times and were sold to Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, Chiang Tung, Luang Prabang, Sipsongpanna, and southern China. But now it’s all dry. There are only two ponds left at Ban Bo Luang. In this area, there will be a total of 8 villages, Ban Bo Luang, which has two public ponds. The villagers will call it the northern pond and the southern pond, the Northern ponds are located along the River Mang. The southern pond is about 500 meters away.
Phu Kha Viewpoint One of the most notable features of Doi Phu Kha is its high elevation, which reaches over 1,000 meters above sea level in some places. This creates a unique climate that is cooler and more temperate than the surrounding lowland areas. The mountain range is covered in dense forests, which provide a habitat for a variety of animals, including elephants, tigers, and gibbons. The forests are also home to many rare and endangered plant species, including orchids, rhododendrons, and bromeliads.
After Sapan, we drive back to Nan and stay overnight at Sriniman which is another great place surrounded by rice fields. The price included afternoon tea in the room, breakfast, dinner watching a movie during sunset. If you have time enough I would suggest you do lunch at Nan Native by Chef first which is a very good restaurant looking out over the mountains and it's near Sriniman
The next morning we visited a beautiful cafe after checking out Natatha Farm Stay which is beautifully settled in the middle of a rice field after which we continue to drive to Phu Langka
We stayed at a basic homestay to watch the sunrise over Phu Langka at Magic mountain cafe the next morning, which is a popular spot with Thai tourists so be sure you book your homestay in advance. Phu Langka is, hands down, one of my favorite places in Phayao. I was completely blown away by just how dreamy and beautiful the landscape around Phu Langka is especially during the sunrise.
We continued our trip to Chiang Rai where we stayed at Pak Ping Ing Jay near the white temple of Chiangrai in a basic room by a great family and it's within walking distance of the white temple. I suggest you visit the white and blue temple in the early morning when it just opened at 8 and in the evening watch the sunset at the Wat Huay Pla Kung
More about Chiang Rai can find here
Another great Glamping spot around Chiang Mai is La Na Wild where you can sleep in Tents with a jacuzzi in the mountains and in the evening watch the sunset during dinner. The road to La Na Wild is a little bit steep and small but worth visiting. The next morning we did it very slowly and wandered around the village of Mae Kampong Pang Klang which has many beautiful cafes and restaurants.
Ban Mae Kampong is located in a lush, jungle-covered valley, about 50 km east of Chiang Mai. The village is a popular holiday destination for Thai tourists because of its beautiful nature and cool climate. The valley boasts numerous interesting places
From La Na Wild we go to another great spot that I want to visit a long time ago but never find the time to do. Chai Lai Orchid is a great place outside of the National park Doi Inthanon. We stayed here 2 nights, one night in the mountain and one night by the river, which is, in my opinion, a greater place because the bamboo huts are beautiful there and just new. At Chai Lai Orchid you can interact with elephants who walk around the resort freely and have fun interacting with people. Be sure to ask for a morning call from the elephants and visit the waterfall
The Chai Lai Orchid is sure to provide many unforgettable memories. Whether you’re a solo traveler or on a Thai getaway with your significant other, this place is perfect for any visitor wanting an authentic once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Guests are welcome to stay the night on-site in a bungalow or visit for a day-trip excursion. (I suggest you do both!). Visitors who choose to stay the night can rent a bungalow for as little as $40 per night – perfect for anyone on a budget who wants to experience living with elephants.
From Chai Lai Orchid we continue our road trip to Doi Inthanon and visit two waterfalls on the way to our next stop. Mae Ya Waterfall and Wachirathan Waterfall are just 5 minutes from the parking area and easy to reach.
From the Wachirathan waterfall, it's not far to Kowit Maechaem Farmstay. Be sure you don't go off-road because the road Google maps will send you is dangerous just continue to Ban Pha Nang School and go from there to the Farmstay. The farm stay price included breakfast and dinner and was very good but it's basic just you and nature. The place is surrounded by beautiful rice fields which will be beautiful green around March and October
We stayed 3 nights at Kowit Farmstay to just relax and enjoy the landscape and finished some work from previous trips. It's a great place and very peaceful. If you don't have the time you can continue your trip to Mahe Hong Son.
The road to Mae Hong son is one of the most beautiful sceneries in Thailand, with huge mountain backdrops, curved roads, and rice paddies. We stayed 2 nights at Lee Wine Ruk Thai a very popular Japanese-looking resort near a tea plantation that is popular by Thai tourists to see the foggy landscape during sunrise.