Visit national parks and mountains in northern Thailand

If you can't stand the heat... Head north!

Northern Thailand, the old 'Lanna' kingdom, rich in culture and life with so much to offer those who take the time to explore. Much of it still undiscovered and traditional. It's maybe not the white-sand Thailand of your dreams, but it is spectacular with far fewer tourists.

Lush landscapes
Diverse and beautiful, rolling hills and valleys, jungles and mountains. Go trekking or see some of the abundant nature on a gentle stroll. See wildlife as you've never seen it before in Thailand's many national parks bursting with native species. Bird-watching is very popular and opportunities to get closer to animals abound - from Chiang Mai Zoo's night safari aimed at tourists, to your chance to help out with elephant conservation, riding bareback and learning how to bathe them in the river.

Tell Tale Tips: There are lots of elephant parks in the region, many offering rides and 'shows' where the poor animals have been trained to entertain. We recommend seeing elephants in a more natural environment at the Elephant Nature Park. Here they roam free and visitors watch, learn and take part in their care.

Rich in Culture
The north is home to many hilltribe groups that live peacefully in their own communities. Along with seven major tribes such as the well-known Karen and Lisu, there are smaller newer groups such as the Palaung people who came from Myanmar twenty years ago.

Tell Tale Tips: We offer intimate visits to hilltribe villages less frequently visited by tourists in the company of our friend Tim, a local lady living nearby. By going with someone who knows them well, it's possible to actually meet the people who live there and get a greater understanding of how they live.

Hilltribes homestay in Thailand

Not so hot
As our headline suggests, it's the place to head if you like your holiday weather bearable. It tends to be a few degrees cooler all year round than the rest of the country so more pleasant temperatures. May to September sees the most rain but is also (along with March and April) the hottest time of the year with temperatures reaching the mid thirties centigrade. However, a quick rain shower will not only cool you off, it cools the air and enlivens the lush green countryside. Best time to go is November - February when it's less humid, with little rain and lower temperatures (bring something warm for the occasional chilly evening). Generally a wonderful time for those of us who like to travel comfortably and not be drenched in sweat all day.

Great for families
The cooler weather in the north means less irritable kids, easier travelling and activities are more enjoyable too, when it's not so hot. There's plenty of culture, diverse landscapes and sights or activities close by so you don't have to travel far to have lots to keep kids occupied. With either Chiang Mai, or Chiang Rai as a central point for example, gives you lots of options in the surrounding areas. The added bonus is that Thai people love children. Protective and friendly, there'll be genuine warmth wherever you go.

Local goods
The north is famous for its Thai silk, silverware, ceramics and woodcarvings. For handicrafts, support fair trade and visit an OTOP shop. OTOP stands for "One Village, One Product", except Tambon is the word for village in Thai. The goods sold there will be made only by that community and the money will go to them. If you see something you like, buy it because you're unlikely to be able to get it elsewhere.

Tell Tale Tips:The Chiang Mai night bazaar is a famous attraction that opens after sundown. You'll find it less busy and crowded before 8pm but perhaps with less atmosphere.

Tell Tale Tips: There is a weekend street market in Chiang Mai town starting at Tha Phae gate and going into the old city which is brilliant. While the night market is a great experience, when shopping for bargains you'd be better off with the wider variety of goods found here.

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