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
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.
The resort is very peacefully settled between a tea plantation overlooking the valley with the lake.
Most people stay just one night to see the village and the sunrise here.
From Lee Wine Rak Tai we continued our road trip to Ban Cha Bo Hill Noodle which is beside it has the best noodles in Northern Thailand and is also a great spot to watch the sunrise. Overnight we stayed opposite the noodle shop in a bamboo hut Jabo Campground on the hill which included dinner.
After sunrise, we did breakfast at one of the many cafes and drive to Pai, which is a popular village for backpackers. We stayed there for 3 nights at Pai Village Boutique Resort which is a great place just a few steps from the walking street. The best time to visit Pai is during summer when the rice paddies are green.
For years, travelers have told me how much they loved Pai. “It’s aaa-mazing! It’s so much fun. There’s healthy food, lots of booze, waterfalls, and mountains to hike. You’ll never want to leave,” they would explain as if talking about the Garden of Eden.
We visited it during winter and feel there are much better places to stay at that time of the year than Pai. I feel it's a much-overpriced touristic area and not authentic at all as all people here are people from the Isaan which is a totally different area with a totally different kitchen.
A great place to watch the sunset in Pai is the Pai canyon which is a 5-minute walk from the parking space.
From Pai, we end our trip at the beautiful North Star Valley Bubble hotel which is a great place in the mountains of Chiang Mai. The check-in is at 1500 as the bubble is too hot during day time. The breakfast was very special and the best we had during this trip.
It's a great place to just relax taking a bath and watch the sun setting in the mountains
If you visit Chiang Mai during January a bonus stop is the blooming Sakura Cherry Blossom
You can find some places in Doi Inthanon national park too, the most beautiful place is Khun Changkhian Highland Agricultural Research and Training Station
For just a few days each year, generally between early January – the end of January cherry trees located in the gardens of Khun Chang Khian Highland Agriculture Research Center, as well as the village of Khun Chan Khian are in full bloom and are photographers and selfie paradise.
Day 1 ChiangMai Fly to Chiangmai, rent a car at the airport by Thai rent a car
strolling around the old city, overnight stay at Parasol Inn
Day 4 Nan after breakfast drive to Sapan valley over the beautiful Road no.3, lunch at Ban Tai Lue cafe which is a popular cafe with a bamboo bridge. overnight stay at Sappan valley where you can find many homestays.
Day 10 Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai Mae Kampong Pang Klang where we stayed overnight at La Na Wild
Day 11 Mae Kampong Pang Klang After breakfast wandering around Mae Kampong Pang Klang, another popular spot for coffee is Atlantis valley overnight stay at La Na Wild
Day 12 Mae Kampong Pang Klang to Doi Inthanon, overnight stay at Chai Lai Orchid where you can interact with elephants
Day 14 Doi Inthanon Kowit Maechaem Farmstay to the village of Lee Wine Rak Thai Resort
Day 15 Lee Wine Rak Thai Resort watching the sunrise and drive to Ban Cha Bo to eat noodles at Ban Cha Bo Hill Noodle and overnight stay at Jabo Campground homestay on the other side of the road from Ban Cha Bo
Day 16 Ban Cha BoPai to Pai overnight stay Pai Village Boutique Resort
Day 17 Pai Pai Village Boutique Resort
Day 18 Pai to Chiang Mai overnight stay at the North star Valley
Day 19 Chiang Mai stays in the old center
Day 20 Chiang May fly home
Driving distance between places is around 2 and 5 hours over scenic mountain roads, be careful and use low gear when going down in the mountains to avoid your breaks burning,
If you have more time you can spend an extra night by the Elephants at Chai Lai, Orchid, Kowit Maechaem Farmstay, the Lee Wine Rak Thai Resort, in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, etc
Use Klook to find the best deals for trips, somehow they are most of the time 30% cheaper than when you buy them at a local agency. We visit a temple in Pattaya The Sanctuary of truth and on Klook you pay 360 Bath and at the temple itself 500 Bath. Klook is a world-leading travel activity and services booking platform with more than 60,000 activities across 250 major destinations.
Use Trivago to find the best prices for your hotels Trivago is a world-leading metasearch platform allowing users to compare accommodation prices from the best service suppliers. Travelers can find the best offers for hotels, apartments, houses, and even luxury villas.
Use 12Go to find your travel route for local buses, and ferries, we use them all the time as you can easily see the reviews, and the vouchers are everywhere accepted. tickets are sold for more than 5,000 destinations in 100+ countries worldwide.12Go has already helped more than 3,500,000 travelers from around the world get from point A to point B trouble-free and with a high-quality service guarantee. Over the years, the service has received more than 166,000 customer reviews.
Find Cheap rental cars with Discover Cars, somehow they always find the best deals for you. Many other websites hide fees and extra costs from you. Discover Cars includes all mandatory fees, taxes, and extras in the quoted price so there won't be any surprises when you arrive at the rental desk.
Find Cheap Flights here WayAway is the first flight aggregator to offer a membership plan that gives hard cash cashback rewards on any type of booking. So, in effect, WayAway offers two services: an innovative search that is available for free and a paid cashback program that helps travelers save even more on travel.
Use VisitorsCoverage to find the best Travel Insurance worldwide suitable for all types of travelers, including digital nomads, couples, and families regardless of budget VisitorsCoverage is one of the largest online travel insurance platforms offered in 175+ countries (with their primary market being United States). This insurance company was one of the first to offer travel insurance to travelers worldwide in 2006. Now, they offer several customizable plans, from classic insurance to cover medical expenses to extended insurance to cover flight delays, missing baggage, and other emergencies.