Mini Travel Guide: Northern Thailand

Looking for a travel guide to Northern Thailand? Click through for Thai travel tips from an expat - what to do, where to go, what to eat, and how to travel through Thailand cheaply and safely!
Northern Thailand is a great place to travel to if you love waterfalls and mangos! This mini travel guide to Northern Thailand is brought to us by photographer Taylor Roades

I arrived in Thailand, by a random accident that involved a wallet being stolen on the streets of Vietnam. Thailand wasn’t planned to be a part of my five month, backpacking Asian adventure but by a wonderful act of serendipity and the fact that I needed to have bank cards replaced in Bangkok.
I ended up in Chiang Mai looking for something interesting to photograph that wasn’t a tourist laden beach and spent a month traveling by foot, motorbike and bus around the beautiful region of northern Thailand.
Looking for a travel guide to Northern Thailand? Click through for Thai travel tips from an expat - what to do, where to go, what to eat, and how to travel through Thailand cheaply and safely!

Must Go in Northern Thailand


I am a backpacker that is absolutely terrible at making plans and I arrived in Pai planning on spending two nights. Nothing goes as planned, I fell in love with the rice paddies and the charm Pai held. Two nights turned into eight – I ventured off on a motorbike for a few days and came back for another four.
Pai is laid back town with bungalows to stay in, and acoustic guitars playing in the evening on every corner. The night market will give you your fix of pad thai and if you are interested in trekking the hot springs and waterfalls are stunning. There is no other way to describe this little town other than it feels great.

Mae Sariang

This is a small town not too far off the beaten path and close to the Burmese border, which gives it a great Burma/Thai flavour. The food was spectacular, and the mix of cultures and languages isn’t something that you see in the rest of Thailand.

The sunset at the national park just outside town was another highlight – something everyone should see. There are look out points which are elevated over the farmers fields, on every corner once you enter the park.

Looking for a travel guide to Northern Thailand? Click through for Thai travel tips from an expat - what to do, where to go, what to eat, and how to travel through Thailand cheaply and safely!

Must do in Northern Thailand

A motorbike adventure

Motorbikes are cheap to rent ($5-7.00 USD/day) and the best way to see the countryside. The Mae Hong Son Loop is approximately 600km around the province and would take about a week to ride. T

here are little towns every 50km or so it is easy to arrive before dark at the next destination and find a room to stay. The loop is a perfect beginner trip; the road is full of curves and you are forced to go slow, and it is all paved. (Immaculately I may add.)

A Waterfall Trek

Chiang Mai province is beautiful and as you walk around the old city on every corner literally there is someone offering to take you on a trek. If you have the time spend a couple days doing it. The waterfalls are stunning and offer a cool swim after a hot day, and many treks offer village stays which allow you to see up close and personal rural Thai life.

Must eat in Northern Thailand

Must eat in Northern Thailand

Khao Soi – A Chiang Mai Specialty

Chiang Mai is the second biggest city in Thailand and they do know how to make a delicious yellow chicken curry. It is a blend of flavours, chilis, egg and fried noodles and seriously cooked to perfection. It is a little difficult to eat with chopsticks as the noodles are wet but the hard work is well worth it.

Mango and Sticky Rice

Mango, Sticky Rice, and Coconut Milk. Three simple ingredients and a surprisingly difficult recipe to master – Mango and sweet sticky rice is a dessert you can’t pass up. The rice is cooked in coconut milk for nine hours before it is served though the combination may sound a little out there I promise you it won’t disappoint.

Cultural tips for traveling in Northern Thailand

Cultural tips for Traveling in Northern Thailand

Learn to Say Hello and Thank You

Even if you are only there for a few weeks making the effort to learn a little language goes a long way. Thai people are extremely friendly and used to tourists but it is easy to say Sa-wat-dee kraup (male speaker) Sa-wat-dee Kah (female speaker) (hello), acknowledge you are in their land and are willing to learn.

Know the King

Thailand is a kingdom and the king is widely respected. Though democracy may be the way of the west the monarchy there is in power generally viewed as doing a good job. It is something to know and be aware of if nothing else. Political views differ everywhere and it is good to be conscious not just in Thailand but anywhere, how yours are delivered.

cheap travel in Northern Thailand

Cheap travel tips for Northern Thailand

Hostels are widely available and inexpensive in the North. You will be able to find a dorm bed for under 200Baht or approximately $7.00/night. If you are traveling with a partner it is often cheaper to go halves on a private room to save a little more.

Thanks so much for sharing, Taylor!  Do any of you have Thai travel tips to share?

P.S. How to pack in a carry-on for a multi-week, multi-climate trip

Photos by Hanny NaibahoJonny ClowDan Freeman on Unsplash

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  1. this is lemonade

    Oh WOW! Fabulous – wish I could go now 🙂 Thanks for sharing, I feel like some Chiang Mai Khao Soi right now – looks delicious!

  2. Kate

    Thailand is absolutely my next out of country trip (I knew that before I read this article 😉 Is there a 'best time of year' for Thailand?

  3. Emily

    I've been to Thailand several times – however we just went back in March for our honeymoon and travelled north for the first time. It's such an incredible country and makes me yearn to go back and and explore it further. Your pictures don't help much either.

  4. Thailand Excursions

    Wonderful pics! Thailand is just an awesome place to visit just can't hold back the excitement to visit there.


    I'm going to Thailand in January to complete my Divemasters and am aiming to stay for the Songkran new year festival in april. I think I know I need a visa as I'm staying longer than 30 days and am travelling from England. can anyone clarify? I don't even know where to get a visa from! (I've travelled a lot but am incredibly stupid when it comes to things like this). thank you!

  6. Michelle Davis

    People are starting to travel more and more. Due to this increasing number of travelers, the demand for hotel and restaurant managers is on the rise. If you are wanting to enter this exciting and fast paced career field, you may want to keep reading to learn how to launch your career in hotel and restaurant management.

    Worlds Best Travel Experience


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