Hike and Bike Sukhothai to Chiang Mai

6 Days, 5 Nights

This ramble through the north will take you from the 13th-century beauty of Sukhothai to the UNESCO-listed Kamphaeng Phet and onto Thailand’s ‘Rose of the North’, Chiang Mai, via rafting on the Mae Chaem River, cycling through an artisan hill-tribe village deep in the mountains, kayaking to a floating restaurant on Mae Ngat Lake, and scrambling up limestone rocks at the Bua Thong Waterfalls.

Trip Highlights

  • Explore the artisan Karen community of Li with a local biker to see silver jewellery and golden naga (mythical serpent) heads
  • Hike through a gorge and over a suspension bridge to see Stone Age pictographs and burial grounds of Ob Luang National Park
  • Scramble down Bua Thong Waterfall, aka ‘Sticky Waterfalls’, with its calcified rocks that ‘stick’ to your feet
Price
$1450 USD per person
Trip Activities
Cycling, trekking
Trip Length
6 Days, 5 Nights
Physical Level
Casual
Start/End
Sukhothai, Thailand / Chiang Mai, Thailand
Accommodation
Hotel (3 nights)
Guesthouse (1 night)
Homestay (1 night)
Age
Minimum 16 years of age
Meals not included
Lunch, Breakfast Day 1
Dinner Day 2
Lunch, Dinner Day 6
Flights Included
None

Day-by-day Itinerary

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Day 1
Activities
None
Transfers
None
Description

We’ll meet in the lobby of the Legenda Hotel in the ancient capital of Sukhothai at 17:00. Our guide will host a celebratory mingler to kick off the trip, review logistics and answer questions. Then we’re off for dinner—expect surprising, delicious and addictive flavors at your first authentic Thai meal. Sukhothai, most commonly known as the seat of an ancient civilization, is also renowned for its delectable noodles. Tonight, we’ll sample the aptly named Sukhothai noodles (or kuaytiao Sukhothai), a bold and spicy bowl of noodles that can be eaten with or without broth. It’s a delicacy that the Thai are crazy about—we’re willing to wager you’ll go a little crazy for them too.

Meals
  • Dinner
Accommodation
  • Legenda Hotel
Day 2
Activities
  • Cycling: 35 km
Transfers
  • Van: 1
Description

This morning after breakfast we’ll drive to Kamphaeng Phet, an ancient fortress town that’s part of the Sukhothai and Associated Cities UNESCO World Heritage Site. Named ‘walls as strong as diamonds’ in Thai for the fortress’s defensive shape and sturdy walls, the fortress city was an important part of the Sukhothai Kingdom’s frontline during its heyday in the 14th century. Here, we’ll saddle up and spend the morning cycling through ancient ruins, exploring palaces like Wat Phra Kaeo.

Meaning “Temple of the Emerald Buddha” in Thai, Wat Phra Kaeo takes its name from a small jade Buddha icon that’s believed to bestow the Thai king with divine power. The sacred icon was housed here in Kamphaeng Phet briefly in the 1400s, but it moved several times before finally finding its present-day home in Bangkok. We’ll also see Sri Lankan–style chedi (Buddhist shrines) and numerous wat (Thai temples) that house beautiful Buddha statues.

Our ride ends at a popular local lunch spot where we’ll refuel. This afternoon, avoid the midday heat and return to the hotel for a dip in the pool.

In the cool of the early evening, we’ll get back on our bikes to explore the rest of Sukhothai Historical Park. Originally built by the Khmer and Mon civilizations, Thai artisans added to the structures’ grandeur in the 14th to 16th centuries. Your guide will be on hand to answer your questions and explain the influence the Sukhothai Kingdom had in shaping Thailand today, but you’ll also have the freedom to wander off on your own.

Tonight we have one more opportunity to taste Sukhothai’s regional delicacies and explore on your own. Our guide has a list of place we can recomend. Or if you’re already hooked, feel free to go for another bowl of kuaytiao Sukhothai. If you chose sai nam (noodles in soup) the first time, then try them heng (broth on the side) tonight.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation
  • Legenda Hotel
Day 3
Activities
None
Transfers
None
Description

After breakfast, we leave the river plains of Sukhothai behind and head into the cool of the mountains on a 2.5-hour drive to the village of Li, which was founded seventy years ago based on the visions of an inspired monk. The Karen people, an ethnic minority group in Thailand whose ancestral homelands run along the Thai-Burma border, followed the monk’s urban planning and created dirt roads in an organized grid to build the town of Li. Their well-manicured stilt homes are also artisan cottage industries. One house is famous for creating the ornamental naga (a mythical serpent) that often decorate Thai wat. Another house produces punched-tin decorations for Burmese-style wat, and many others craft silver jewelry. This artisan town is anything but touristy.

For lunch, we’ll meet Mr. Nu Chit, a Li local who is a passionate ambassador for his hometown. After enjoying lunch at his wife’s popular noodle shop, Mrs. Bur’s, we’ll tour this unique Karen village by bike. Mr. Nu Chit will introduce us to a few of his neighbors as we explore.

Once we say goodbye to Mr. Nu Chit, we’ll continue north by van to Hot. Tonight a young Thai couple will host us at their eco-minded guesthouse. Their passion for blending ecological ethics with antique glass, tiles, and old teak doors have created a beautiful and peaceful home for travellers.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Phu Anna Eco-House
Day 4
Activities
  • Trekking: 5 hours
Transfers
  • Van: 2
Description

After a breakfast replete with fresh fruit smoothies, we’ll don our trekking clothes and head to Thailand’s tallest peak, Doi Inthanon. At its base is the small Karen village of Timuklo, which means ‘living water’. Some of the villagers here will guide us on us a trek that’ll be challenging but rewarding and definitely manageable.

Our trek will take us past small terraced rice paddies and bamboo groves, as well as a good deal of lush deciduous forest. During February and early March, most of the trees here lose their leaves and cover the ground in a thick blanket of yellow foliage. After climbing up the valley past a cliff wall, we’ll come to a crystalline, three-meter-high waterfall. With your feet in the stream, feast on a picnic lunch of sticky rice, roast chicken, green papaya salad and seasonal dishes that’ll refresh and rejuvenate you for the return trek to Timuklo.

In this region, the Karen people reside in bamboo houses organized into small hamlets. Our host community has built one small bamboo house for us. This authentic hut will be our home for the night, where we can enjoy a family-style dinner, local hospitality and the simple life.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Village-stay in Timuklo
Day 5
Activities
  • Trekking: 2 hours
Transfers
  • Van: 1.5
Description

After waking up to the sound of roosters and tucking into one last meal with our gracious hosts, we’ll load up the van with our things and say goodbye. Then, we’ll head out for an easy two-hour trek to Wachirathon Waterfall. This famed waterfall attracts many tourists, so it comes with the luxury of numerous espresso shops and a diverse offering of Thai and Western food. Eat your fill before we pile back in the van for the drive to Chiang Mai, the “Rose of the North.”

Chiang Mai may be the second-largest city in Thailand, but it has the laid-back vibe of a small town as well as the atmospheric charm of an ancient capital city. The seat of the former Lanna Kingdom, Chiang Mai is famous for its moated Old City and its local sabai sabai (“easygoing,” or literally, “pleasant pleasant”) attitude. We’ll check in to our stylish boutique hotel, which features a pool that overlooks the tranquil Ping River.

Tonight we’ll head into town for one last dinner of Thai curries, roasted eggplant and spicy soups. If you want to explore some of the highlights of Chiang Mai, we recommend visiting the nearby Night Bazaar or Anusarn Market, which are packed with foot massages, more food, curios and pubs.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Aruntara Riverside Boutique Hotel
Day 6
Activities
None
Transfers
None
Description

Today after breakfast we’ll wish you a happy onward journey. Your guide will be in the lobby this morning to help you make arrangements for your return transfer.

Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
None

Trip Information

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Inclusions

Plenty of water, snacks, and local fruit

Rove Certified Guide

An assistant guide for 11-15 pax, 2 assistant guides for 16+ pax

Vehicles: (varies based on local conditions and vehicle sizes available)

A first aid kit per guide

Entrance fees

Meals as mentioned in the itinerary, including two non alcoholic beverages per person per meal

Accommodation as listed above.

Exclusions

Visa arrangements

International and domestic flights

Alcoholic drinks

Meals other than mentioned above

Guide(s) tips

Energy drinks or powders, performance bars, or performance gels (Gatorade, Powerbars, Gu, Isostar, etc)

Personal Travel Insurance

Personal expenditure (laundry, telephone etc.)