Morning departure from Chiang Mai. First stop is at an Orchid Farm to admire some rare and fabulous blooms with amazing colours. Proceed to the Elephant Training Centre to see how young elephants are trained for use in lumber work, and then enjoy an exciting trek on elephant-back (approx 90 minutes) to a Lisu village, which is inaccessible by other means. After a tasty lunch at a local restaurant, visit the beautiful Chiang Dao Cave, and continue to Tha Ton district for an overnight stay at a comfortable hotel overlooking the Mae Kok River, Thaton Chalet.
Dinner at the hotel.(L,D)
After breakfast at the hotel, travel through lovely mountainous scenery to Doi (hill) Mae Salong. On the way, stop at various hill tribe villages, including the Living Museum at Ban Lorcha for a full tour of the community with hill tribe villagers. Here you will witness community activities rarely seen by outsiders. The modern history of Doi Mae Salong began when the KMT (Kuomintang Chinese) fled the communist uprising in China and finally settled here via Laos and Myanmar, with permission from the Thai government. It is known for its superb high altitude scenery, stunning natural beauty and tranquil atmosphere. Enjoy lunch here at a local Chinese Restaurant, and watch the interesting art of tea making. Sample and enjoy some high quality Chinese tea before travelling on to the small city of Chiang Rai for an overnight stay Wiang Inn Hotel.
Dinner at the hotel. (B, L, D)
Note: An optional visit can be made to Three Tribes Village. The inhabitants here include members of the Padong tribe where the women wear several brass rings around their long, slender necks; the Lahu Shi Balah, where the women have large ear loops, and the Akha, whose women wear delightful head decorations, using old silver coins, shells, feathers and fur. Admission fee is Baht 250 per person.
Breakfast at the hotel. Head north towards Mae Sai, and continue driving up to the sacred mountaintop temple of Doi Tung. From this altitude at approx 1000 metres (“Thailand’s Switzerland” as it is often called) there is a spectacular view on clear days. Visit the splendid palace of the late Princess Mother (the King's mother) with its magnificent botanical garden. Proceed to Mae Sai for lunch at the northernmost tip of Thailand bordering Myanmar, and onwards to the famous “Golden Triangle” Visit Wat Pangao, and enjoy a breathtaking view of the Mekong River, before visiting the fascinating exhibits at the excellent Opium Museum.
Overnight at the Imperial Golden Triangle. (B, L, D)
Breakfast at the hotel and enjoy the morning at leisure. Transfer to Chiang Rai Airport, with a visit to the National Museum at Chiang Saen on days when it is open, plus a lovely old temple to conclude this very satisfying and highly informative tour. (B)