DAY 1 | (_/L/D)
Pickup from hotels, airport, railway station or bus terminal and depart Chiang Mai in an off-road vehicle. Visit the hilltribe museum (closed on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays) to learn about the hill people in Thailand and the fascinating origins of the seven ethnic groups. They consist of the Hmong, the Yao, the Lisu, the Akha, the black and red Musers and the Karen. Proceed to the local market of Mae Malai, a colourful rendezvous for local village selling their produce. Continue to Ban Mae Taman to trek through the rain forest on elephant back for about a45 minutes. In a pleasant contrast, conclude with a leisurely ride on an ox-cart for 15-20 minutes. As an alternative to the elephant and ox-cart rides, continue from Mae Malai market to the Doi Chiang Dao Cave, located 70 kilometres north of Chiang Mai city, en route to Fang. Lunch at the local restaurant before boarding an inflatable rubber raft to shoot the white water rapids. Depending on the season the exciting journey lasts about one hour. This ride combines very enjoyable soft adventure with some spectacular views and lovely riverine vistas. Continue to Ban Pang Hai, a simple Thai village 850 metres above sea level. Check in at Hmong Hilltribe Lodge for one night. During dinner in the cool mountain air, enjoy barbecued meats, different Thai dishes, salad, pasta, fruits and desserts. To follow, a number of Hmong cultural presentations provide an entertaining and interesting finale to the evening.
DAY 2 | (B/L/_)
After breakfast, drive to the small village of Ban Teen Doi, and take a short stroll to Ban Mae Pa. From here, ride mountain bikes on dirt roads to reach Ban Palan and visit a small village reservoir. Continue to Ban Pong Kwaw to see an ancient temple, home to some beautiful wall paintings.
Enjoy a picnic lunch and proceed to the Royal Project at Ban Nong Hoi Kao. Observe how the hill people are taught to cultivate vegetables and flowers, instead of growing opium poppies as they did previously. This commendable project also buys produce from the hilltribes for sale in their shops. Spend an interesting time admiring the work done here before returning to Chiang Mai hotels in the late afternoon.