Day 5. Chiang Mai

Overnight – 137 Pillars House

Enjoy an excursion to spectacular Doi Inthanon mountain and national park, which includes a visit to the most photographed attraction in Northern Thailand, Phra Mahathat Naphamethanidon and Naphaphonphumisiri, which are the massive and gorgeous Chedis that are the subject of the most popular photos that travel journals and websites use for the Chiang Mai region, and are not situated in Chiang Mai, but close to the peak of Doi Inthanon. You will also visit other major attractions inside Doi Inthanon National Park, which is a protected area that is home to the highest mountain in Thailand, Doi Inthanon. Doi Inthanon is a superb national park full of majestic waterfalls, lush green valleys, terraced paddy fields, fruit, flower and vegetables crops, and ethnic communities living happily and comfortably in their natural environment. Once at the peak you will admire the views and then enjoy an easy trek through the mist laden virgin forest and be fascinated with the unique flora that is found here.

After this adventure you will be driven downhill and lunch will be at the Royal Project Kitchen (with fresh ingredients from project farmers), while admiring the beautiful surroundings and views. After lunch there will be two more not-to-be-missed experiences on your way back to Chiang Mai.

First you will stop at the two massive colorful Chedis, which are dedicated to the Beloved Late King and the Revered Queen and are located in a magical spot with lush undulating hills and spectacular views. The immaculate terraced gardens with a plethora of colorful exotic flowerbeds that surround the Chedis make for a breathtaking locale.

The second fascinating stop as you head down the mountain is the Royal Projects Highway Market run by the Hill Tribes of the Doi Inthanon region. You will stop and walk around the outdoor stalls selling fruits, produce, nuts and other items organically grown by the simple and now well-to-do tribal locals, some of whom will be dressed in their unique clothing. This market, its wares, and the tribal people that grow and sell here are a growing testament of the success of the Late King’s vision and efforts. As in Chiang Rai, up until the 1960s, poppy fields were widespread in this region, and hill tribe villagers were working as laborers for opium producers and smugglers. King Bhumibol (Rama IX) initiated drastic reforms in the region to put an end to it, and this region was the beginning of the Royal Projects. These projects were highly beneficial to the whole region and to the ethnic communities who earlier had almost been slaves of the drug barons, and many of them were addicted to opium. Besides the Thai Army moving against the drug lords, the Royal Projects granted the Hill Tribes their own land to cultivate, free seeds, tools, and all other resources needed to make them succeed in becoming successful natural farmers. Now, over half a century later, the results of the Late King’s vision have brought happiness to everyone involved.

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