Off the Beaten Path Adventures in Northern Thailand

Northern Thailand is a spectacular part of Southeast Asia. From its massive mountains to expansive jungle, northern Thailand will steal your heart. You can easily veer off the normal backpacker path and explore parts of Thailand most tourists never see. Whether you’re someone looking to learn more about Thai culture through visiting temples, or an adrenaline junkie looking for an outdoor adventure, there’s an undiscovered path for everyone.

From exploring temples taken straight out of a fairytale, hiking to sunrise view points from tiny villages barely visible on a map, to adventuring through hidden caves on a boat, here are 5 of the best off the beaten path adventures in northern Thailand.

Visit Wat Chalo Phra Kiat Phrachomklao Rachanusorn

In the mountains of the Chae Hom District near Lampang, this new temple looks as if it were pulled out of a Chinese folktale. Colorful stupas decorate tiny peaks of the mountain, and you’ll get 360 degree views of the surrounding land. You’ll probably be one of the only foreigners at this temple.

The hike to the top of the temple is strenuous; expect a half an hour of stairs! The reward at the top is worth every step. Once you get to the top, take in the views and wander around the temple, visiting the different viewpoints.

Watch the sunrise at Phu Chi Fa

It’s quite a trek to get to this tiny village in northern Thailand, which is close to the border of Laos. Phu Chi Fa is known for its sunrises, and many locals flock to the viewpoint to catch a glimpse of its beauty.

When you’re in Chiang Rai, look for a tiny paper sign that says “Phu Chi Fa” at the bus station, and hop on a 4 hour van ride to Phu Chi Fa. Spend the night there, and then trek up a nearby mountain in the dark to watch a spectacular sunrise above the clouds. The van waits for you in the town overnight; so make sure you catch it back to Chiang Rai in the morning after you watch the sunrise.

Explore Pha Chor

Pha Chor is a miniature version of the Grand Canyon. It’s located in the Mae Wen Nature Reserve, 53 kilometers from Chiang Mai. Only locals know about this tiny, hidden phenomenon. Spend the day wandering around the bottom of the canyon, as the large, pillar type rocks tower over you. It’s 100 THB to enter the canyon and 20 THB to park your motorbike.

Go Jungle Trekking in Chiang Rai

There are tons of different trekking opportunities in northern Thailand. Hiring a guide and leaving from Chiang Rai offers some of the best treks in the entire country. You’ll have the chance to discover hill tribe villages and explore the mountains, at the same time as learning about various flora and fauna in northern Thailand. If you’re the outdoorsy type, then taking a few days to trek in northern Thailand is a must!

Discover the Spirit Caves in Mae Hong Son Province

If you’re looking for an adrenaline-rush adventure, make your way to this cave in northern Thailand. This is a great place to visit if you’re settled into the popular backpacker town of Pai and looking for something new to do. The bike ride to the Spirit Caves is incredible, and offers unbelievable views of the mountains.

Once you reach the cave, your adventure begins. Colorful stalactites and stalagmites make up the interior. There are three caves in total, and it’s possible to take a tour to all three of them. You can even take a boat ride to the third cave.

Have any other off the beaten path adventures in Thailand to add to this list? Let us know in the comment section below!

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