THE SHAN LANDS
PRICE PER PERSON
All prices quoted are per person and refer to a shared double or twin occupancy. Peak season surcharges and/or compulsory meals may apply during Christmas and New Year periods. Changes to the itinerary may also need to be arranged during these times.
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DAY 1: CHIANG MAI ARRIVAL
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Arrival in Chiang Mai and welcome by your local guide. Then transfer to your hotel. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Chiang Mai.
DAY 2: CHIANG MAI – PAI – THAM LOD – SOPPONG
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Following breakfast continue northwards to Pai (3-4 hours) along a scenic winding mountain road. En route visit Mok Fah waterfalls and Pong Duad Hotsprings before arriving in the small scenic town of Pai at lunchtime. Following lunch, continue further north to Tham Lod cave in the small town of Soppong (1.5 hours). This must-see historic cave is explored by bamboo raft via a tiny river that winds through the cave. You will disembark the raft 2- 3 times to explore the huge caverns that contain remains of ancient teak coffins that date back over 2500 years and simple cave painting - all the while be accompanied by a local guide bearing a kerosene lantern. Indeed Tham Lod is considered a good example of community-based tourism as all of the guides at the cave are from the local Shan village. If you exit the cave at sunset you will be treated to a spectacular natural show as thousands of swiflets pour into Tham Lod to cling to the stalactites. Time allowing you will have the chance to stroll through the Shan village that populates the area. The Shan people of this community migrated from the Shan state of nearby Myanmar and settled in Soppong decades ago. Overnight in Soppong (please note the accommodation tonight is a simple guest house).
DAY 3: SOPPONG – MAE LA NAE VALLEY – MAE HONG SONG
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Following breakfast we depart and continue south to Mae La Nae (45 minutes), arguably one of the most picturesque valleys in Mae Hong Son province. Here we are invited to visit two communities; Baan Ja Bo (Lahu) and Baan Mae La Nae (Shan). Situated 30 minutes walk within each other, we are privileged to be invited into their homes and communities to meet the people and learn about their unique and distinct cultures. The Lahu people of Ja Bo are colourful, flamboyant and welcoming. They are known for their traditional medicine and wild traditional hill tribe food. While here, a local village guide will escort you to explore the important cultural sites, introduce you to local crafts men and to women who will explain the many different meanings of the colours of their traditional clothes. For the adventurous a visit to the nearby Pee Man Caves is a must to visit the ghost of the village. Enjoy a local lunch prepared by the villagers. From here enjoy a down hill walk (30 minutes) or drive through a stunning valley of majestic limestone cliffs to Baan Mae Na Lae. Here you are invited by the ethnic Tai Yai (Shan) people to explore their serene community with a local Shan guide. Visit the beautiful, simple Shan style Buddhist temple, crafted from golden teak, that lies at the heart of the village. This community are also prolific farmers and successfully produce organic sesame oil. For the energetic, exploration of the rugged surrounding area including the beautiful Mae La Nae Cave is well worth the effort. Please note: these villages are part of a program called “Project for Recovery of Life and Culture”, which helps communities prepare for meaningful community based tourism projects that share culture, raise funds to conserve natural resources, train community guides and create income for local members. Continue onto Mae Hong Son. Overnight in Mae Hong Son.
DAY 4: MAE HONG SON – CHIANG MAI
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Mae Hong Son is Thailand’s most remote town, nestled in a scenic mountainous setting with the Pai river as its thoroughfare. Mae Hong Son shares a border with Myanmar and as such its population is a cultural melting pot of Thai and Shan people with Lisu, Lahu, Karen and Hmong hill tribes populating the surrounding mountain regions. Following breakfast, we begin with an early morning to visit the morning market area, where a colourful array of food products can be bought, including crickets, worms and ant eggs! We then embark on an exciting longtail boat journey down the Pai river through jungle landscape passing small villages perched high upon the riverbanks. This scenic boat ride brings us to a bustling market on the Myanmar border. This market presents an eclectic array of goods from Myanmar and Thailand. Return to Mae Hong Son town for lunch. Continue to Wat Phra Thad Doi Kong Moo, which dominates this provincial city. Constructed by Phaya Singhanatracha, the first King of Mae Hong Son, the hilltop temple affords a wonderful view over the city and surrounding mountains and valleys. Also visit the Burmese-style temples Wat Chong Klang and Wat Chong Kham. Apart from the glass paintings depicting Buddhism and simple lifestyle of the villagers that draw much attention from visitors, there are over 30 wood carved dolls from Myanmar. Situated in front of the temples is a big natural pond called Nong Chong Kham, which used to be the bathing area for elephants. Late afternoon transfer to Mae Hong Son airport for your flight back to Chiang Mai. Upon arrival in Chiang Mai transfer to your hotel. Overnight in Chiang Mai.
DAY 5: CHIANG MAI
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Breakfast at your hotel. Drive to the mountain temple of Wat Prathat Doi Suthep, the most famous landmark of Chiang Mai. Climb the Naga staircase to visit the exquisite golden pagoda with 6kg of pure gold at its peak, the remainder of which is plated with gold that shines high over the city. The sound of temple bells fills the air and the view overlooking the city makes an irresistible photo opportunity. Afterwards drive further up the mountain by songtaew pick-up truck, passing the King’s winter palace of Phu Ping, and turn onto a dirt road to the Chang Khien Coffee Research Project where you can enjoy a cup of the local arabica, surrounded by fabulous gardens of flowers. Continue to the white Hmong village of Chang Khien where some of the 800 inhabitants still wear their traditional hill tribe clothes and practice a culture that dates back 500 years. Upon arrival enjoy a cup of steaming mountain tea with a village family before returning to Doi Suthep and Chiang Mai. The rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight in Chiang Mai.
DAY 6: CHIANG MAI – CHIANG RAI – GOLDEN TRIANGLE – CHIANG RAI
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Breakfast at your hotel. Pick up in Chiang Mai and head to Chiang Rai. Coffee break on the way at “Cabbages and Condoms” a community run organisation supporting local community development projects. A stop will also be made at Wat Rong Khun, the White Temple, before arriving in Chiang Rai, where you will enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon continue to the Golden Triangle area, where the borders of Thailand, Burma and Laos meet. Visit the ancient Kingdom of Chiang Saen on the steep banks of Mekong River, where you will see some magnificent ancient ruins and temples. Then embark on a long-tailed boat trip on the Mekong River before returning to Chiang Rai. Overnight in Chiang Rai.
DAY 7: CHIANG RAI / MAE SAI DEPARTURE
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After breakfast at your hotel, free day at leisure until your flight back to Bangkok per your international flight connection. In alternative, you can depart for a morning visit to Mae Sai, the bustling trading town at the northern-most point in Thailand. Here you can cross into Myanmar and continue your journey or chose to be transferred back to Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai (not included in the price).
Contact a Travel Advisor if You Are Interested in This Itinerary or if You Wish to Create Your Own Tailor-Made Itinerary