Elephants Treks and Temples

About the Experience

All of Thailand will embrace you in an instant. The mesmerizing aromatics of the curries fill the air–simmering coconut milk, lemongrass, Thai basil, garlic and the fire of bird’s eye chilies. Add the buzz of the neon night markets and bazaars, vibrating with vendors selling everything from noodles to football jerseys to smoothies and intricate Hilltribe embroidery.

This itinerary is packed with childhood dreams–float down the Taeng river on a bamboo raft! Give an elephant a bath! We’ll also hop in a long-tail boat and visit the bamboo floating house village of Mae Ngat Dam Reservoir. 

The scenery is a guaranteed knock-out: koi ponds, rice paddies, tea plantations, bamboo hills and exotic fruit orchards. We’ll take it all in while drinking some of the world’s best coffee from the Chiang Rai beans!

Did we mention the pampered days of Thai massage and aromatic herbal steams? The eco-lodges and resorts on this trip revolve around harmony, meditation and celebrating the natural soundtrack. This is a deep immersion in Thai culture–we’ll visit secret temples, a very quirky museum (no spoiler here!), climb up the famed Sticky Waterfalls like Spiderwoman and learn kitchen secrets from the hilltribes.

We know what you’re thinking…check! Check! Check!

This trip delivers a HUGE sensory experience from spending time in the company of elephants to soupy jungle trails and century-old paths travelled by monks. Elephants, Treks and Temples is spiritual, satiating, rejuvenating and jammed with unreal scenery. You’ll see.

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know we’re a global leader in women’s adventure travel? Check out our destinations around the world!

 

 

Click here to see the full itinerary!
Elephants Treks and Temples

About the Experience

All of Thailand will embrace you in an instant. The mesmerizing aromatics of the curries fill the air–simmering coconut milk, lemongrass, Thai basil, garlic and the fire of bird’s eye chilies. Add the buzz of the neon night markets and bazaars, vibrating with vendors selling everything from noodles to football jerseys to smoothies and intricate Hilltribe embroidery.

This itinerary is packed with childhood dreams–float down the Taeng river on a bamboo raft! Give an elephant a bath! We’ll also hop in a long-tail boat and visit the bamboo floating house village of Mae Ngat Dam Reservoir. 

The scenery is a guaranteed knock-out: koi ponds, rice paddies, tea plantations, bamboo hills and exotic fruit orchards. We’ll take it all in while drinking some of the world’s best coffee from the Chiang Rai beans!

Did we mention the pampered days of Thai massage and aromatic herbal steams? The eco-lodges and resorts on this trip revolve around harmony, meditation and celebrating the natural soundtrack. This is a deep immersion in Thai culture–we’ll visit secret temples, a very quirky museum (no spoiler here!), climb up the famed Sticky Waterfalls like Spiderwoman and learn kitchen secrets from the hilltribes.

We know what you’re thinking…check! Check! Check!

This trip delivers a HUGE sensory experience from spending time in the company of elephants to soupy jungle trails and century-old paths travelled by monks. Elephants, Treks and Temples is spiritual, satiating, rejuvenating and jammed with unreal scenery. You’ll see.

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know we’re a global leader in women’s adventure travel? Check out our destinations around the world!

 

 

DAY ONE: CHIANG MAI ARRIVAL

ยินดีต้อนรับ (welcome) to Chiang Mai! Upon arrival at Chiang Mai International Airport, you’ll meet your spirited Wild Women guide and driver. The group will then transfer to the hotel to refresh, recharge and revive before dinner at one of the top restaurants in Chiang Mai. It will be an authentic introduction to the fragrant spices and distinct flavours of Thai cuisine. 

 

DAY TWO: SPICE OF LIFE

Today will be spent far removed from the buzzy tourist congestion of Chiang Mai. Instead, we’ll be intimately immersed in the local culture courtesy of Mr. Prapat and his family. Our generous hosts will warmly welcome us into their home and allow us to explore their property. Mr. Prapat will describe local architectural styles and share stories about the traditional ways of the Thai people. We will watch an intricate basket-weaving demonstration–a handmade process that has remarkably remained unchanged for centuries.

We’ll also visit Mr. Prapat’s robust organic gardens and select a few 100% fresh ingredients for an interactive cooking experience. The Prapat family will share their coveted recipes and demonstrate the traditional techniques required to prepare northern Thai dishes. We’ll swap stories and family recipes while learning about staples like Thai bird chilies, curry paste, Thai basil and Vietnamese coriander as we prepare today’s lunch. We’ll then enjoy lunch with the Prapat family to see how well we were paying attention when slicing and dicing!

In the afternoon, we will be well-spoiled and fully indulge in self-care. We’ll experience traditional spa treatments like the Fah Lanna healing treatment, aromatic herbal steam, an oil massage and surrender to the powerful, near-hypnotic effects of Thai massage techniques.

DAY THREE: MAE NGAT LAKE RESERVOIR 

We’ll make a beeline for Sri Lanna National Park this morning (a one-hour drive from Chiang Mai). We’ll visit the park’s famed Bua Tong or limestone “Sticky Waterfalls”. The name of the falls is derived from the mineral deposit that makes the surface of the rocks super grippy. The limestone is callous and feels like hardened sponge–no algae adheres to the rock allowing the falls to be ascended like an agile Spiderwoman. There are five different levels and ropes in addition to steps alongside the waterfall if you’re not feeling very superhero-like!

We will have a picnic in this area, allowing for ample time to climb up these surreal falls. After our Spiderwoman experience, we’ll hop on bikes for a 20km (12 mile) ride to Mae Ngat Dam reservoir, known best for its one-room bamboo floating houses. The route is mostly downhill with moderate inclines. We’ll pedal along quiet rural roads through mesmerizing scenery. The rolling landscape shifts from tidy, organized rice paddies to bountiful exotic fruit orchards to bamboo and verdant fern groves. (*For those who wish not to participate in the cycling portion, you can take a transfer to the lake instead.)

At Mae Ngat Lake Reservoir, our biking trail comes to an end but another adventure instantly unfolds! We’ll climb into the narrow hull of a long-tail boat and cut through the freshwater lake’s placid surface and cross the expanse of the reservoir to absorb the backdrop of distant landscapes. 

We’ll have an incredible traditional lunch in a floating bamboo raft house and spend the remainder of the afternoon at this otherworldly location. We can swim in the rejuvenating waters, take five on the shoreline or navigate the more remote corners of the reservoir by kayak. After a full day spent pedalling and paddling in Sri Lanna National Park, we will sleep well tonight!

 

DAY FOUR: MOVING THROUGH MOUNTAINS

After breakfast, we will leave our resort to explore Doi Ang Kang, the second-highest mountain in Thailand. The views here are unparalleled–neighbouring Myanmar is also visible from this vantage point. We’ll learn about the historical battles that took place (almost unbelievably) in this serenity.  

We’ll also visit Thailand’s most famous botanical gardens and linger over an authentic lunch.

In the afternoon, we’ll follow a jungle trail on a gentle one-hour walk. After stretching our legs (and minds!) we’ll pass through the addictive mountain scenery to the Phumanee Lahu Home. The family-run property is operated by ancestors of Phu Muen, the man who boldly initiated and led the migration of Lahu people from Myanmar into Thailand over 120 years ago.

 

DAY FIVE: LISU HILLTRIBES

This morning, we’ll take off via 4X4 to the starting point of a 4-hour trek to the top of the mountain. During this trek, the views are startling and ever-changing. Once we reach the hilltribe village we’ll recharge with a predictably piquant lunch. (*Women who would like to opt out of the hike can continue on in the 4×4 to travel up the mountain to the village.)

Today’s lunch and learn will be a dynamic hands-on experience. After a tutorial, we’ll pick tea leaves and observe the complete process of making tea (and coffee!) in this vibrant Lisu village before transferring back to Phumanee where a van will be waiting to take us to Thaton for the night. 

With the grounding taste of tea intense in our mouth and the memory of slippery, smooth tea leaves on our fingertips, we will have a final transfer to the luxury eco-lodge, Phu Chaisai Mountain Resort, set in the bamboo hills. It’s a big slice of heaven in the mountains of Chiang Rai. Prepare to be pampered! Laze about in the pool, let your muscles recover from the trek with a steam or sauna. Book a volcanic lava stone massage (not included) or simply wander along the calming pathways that skirt the koi pond and elaborate gardens of paradise!

 

DAY SIX: PHU CHAISAI

Today is wholly dedicated to pure relaxation in the open arms of Phu Chaisai and the property’s incredible amenities and activities. There are two scheduled hikes and yoga classes that you can join if you’re feeling energetic!

 

DAY SEVEN: WHITE TEMPLE

We’ll have a long ride ahead of us today but it will be peppered with history and highlights as we drive. We’ll leave our gorgeous resort this morning with a full (and quirky) agenda to anticipate. First stop: the Baan Dam Museum. Also known as the Black House Museum, Baan Dam is the eccentric vision of Thawan Duchanee who curated an impressive collection of animal skins, bones, teeth and taxidermy. There are a total of 15 buildings that showcase his affection for skulls, shells and remains.

Of course, we’ll also visit the wonder that is Wat Rung Khun (the “White Temple”). This ornate temple is one of the most famous and instantly recognized buildings in Thailand for its prevalence of white plaster which represents the purity of Buddha. 

Sometimes things are black and white in life! Lunch will be en route today and we’ll have a coffee break too as the Chiang Rai region is known for some of the best beans, grown in a sustainable, ethical way. The young farmers are a part of a regional cooperative and a larger, monumental movement towards coffee farming (versus opium production in the past).

Our final rest stop will be in the mountains of Mae Rim at the rustic yet elegant Hmong Hilltribe Lodge. Experience traditional Hmong culture at 822m ( 2,700 feet) above sea level. The weather here is consistently mild, yet cool. There are fab views of the rice paddies that surround Hmong and a sublime swimming pool to float about in.

We’ll unwind from the day and maybe gather for a crackling campfire in the star-studded evening.

 

DAY EIGHT: ELEPHANT ENCOUNTERS

This morning after a bright and healthy breakfast at the hotel we’ll be transferred by truck to our destination. We’ll make a short stop by Mae Malai local market to purchase some food and vegetables needed for the trek. Our next pitstop is the 60m (196 ft) WOW of the single-level Mok Fah waterfall. We’ll swim, relax and just absorb the natural soundtrack.

Refreshed in body and spirit, we’ll carry on (by vehicle) to Karen Village for lunch. Our guide will show off some deft cooking skills in prepping lunch for us! After an extended lunch we’ll start trekking (around 4 hours) up and down high incline jungle roads to another Karen hilltribe at Baan Pa Kao Lam. The Karen hilltribe are the largest ethnic minority group in Thailand (population: 1,000,000). They originated from Tibet and moved south to Myanmar and northern Thailand and live traditionally in bamboo stilt houses.

We’ll walk around the village and take in all the sights and sounds AND then we’ll get to feed the elephants and walk in the jungle with them and our Karen tribe hosts. The Karen are the only tribe in Thailand to own and work with elephants. Their symbiotic relationship with them is long and trusted. The highly skilled mahouts found in elephant camps in Chiang Mai are often Karen hilltribe. 

We’ll have an authentic dinner and overnight in Karen Village, no doubt glowing in our sleep from the elephant encounter!

 

DAY NINE: RAFTING ALONG THE RIVER

After breakfast in the village, we’ll be privy to the ultimate childhood dream: bamboo rafting along the Taeng River! We’ll cross several rapids in our 2.5-hour journey to Shan Village and Baan Sob Kai. On the way, we’ll stop at the Lahu Hilltribe village at Baan Pong Ngan before stopping to have lunch at Shan village before our transfer back to Chiang Mai.

Tonight we will experience the famous Chiang Mai Night Market and Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. Expect to see the unexpected–everything is for sale here! Football jerseys, noodles, furniture, samurai swords, sarongs, Starbucks…

After the wild and hectic shopping experience, we’ll compare notes and spontaneous purchases over dinner at a local restaurant.

 

DAY TEN: HIKE AND HIGHLIGHTS

We’ll have an early breakfast today as it’s our last full day in Thailand and we need to squeeze every inch of life out of it! Bonus: this morning will be spent in the company of elephants! We’ll learn about these darling pachyderms while feeding, bathing and walking with them. 

Before returning to the city we’ll have a decadent lunch at the Elephant Sanctuary–yes, it will be difficult to leave!

In the afternoon we will hike up the ‘monks trail’ to Doi Suthep Mountain. Monks frequented this trail on their pilgrimage to the Wat Phra That Temple on the top of the mountain. We will start hiking at the foot of the mountain and soon be immersed in nature with a slight ascent ahead of us. After a casual 40-minute walk, we will be in the presence of Wat Pha Lat, one of Chiang Mai’s least visited temples.

This secret temple is hidden away from the tourist throngs, in the sanctuary of the forest. We’ll take a break to walk around this mysterious temple. Please relax, reflect and take a deep breath and inhale the harmony found in the journey we’ve been on together for the last 10 days.  

We’ll head back late in the afternoon, balanced and spiritually tuned. Tonight will be our final celebratory dinner. Sigh! Savour every Thai flavour and aromatic on your tongue: coconut, curry, basil, lemongrass and maybe the fire of a nam prik.

 

DAY ELEVEN: JOURNEY’S END

Our trip has come to an end in a physical sense–but Thailand’s powerful effect will stay deeply stitched in your DNA. It’s time to say goodbye, swap contact info and future travel plans before the transfer back to the airport.

Where next?

 

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