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Things to Do in Northern Thailand - page 3

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Mae Kok River

The Mae Kok river is a 177 mile (285 km) tributary of the Mekong that flows through northern Thailand. The city of Chiang Rai is located on the bank of the Mae Kok (Kok River) and the river serves an important role in transportation and tourism.

Traditional long-tail boats make daily trips along the Mae Kok river between Chiang Rai and Thathon, a small town near the border with Myanmar. The ride is more about the journey than the destination – the spectacular mountain scenery and opportunity to visit hill-tribe villages along the way make this one of the most enjoyable river trips in Thailand.

For those who don't want to go all the way to Thathon, long-tail boats can be chartered for short sight-seeing trips along the river. Chiang Rai hotels and travel agencies also organize day trips along the river that include visits to villages, temples, and elephant riding.

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Hilltribe Museum and Education Center

Learn all about the unique hill tribe people of northern Thailand at the Hilltribe Museum and Education Center in Chiang Rai. A short video gives an excellent overview of the different groups and the exhibits show traditional costumes, dwellings, and tools. All of the main hill tribe cultures are represented including the Karen, Ahka, Hmong, Lisu, Lahu, and Lawa. Don’t miss the exhibit on the history of opium in north Thailand its effects on the hill tribe people.

The Hill Tribe Museum and Education Centre staff are very passionate about their work and offer useful advice about visiting hill tribe villages.

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Akha Hill House

The Ahka Hill House is a guesthouse located in an Akha hilltribe village in the mountains outside Chiang Rai. Though the bungalows are made from natural materials like bamboo and mud they offer all the creature comforts including a hot shower, fan, and even wireless internet. The Akha Hill House is surrounded by nature and guests can trek to nearby waterfalls, hot springs, and tea plantations. Multi-day treks and elephant riding can also be arranged.

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Chiang Mai Tribal Museum

Learn all about the unique hill tribe people of northern Thailand at the Chiang MaiTribal Museumi. The traditional costumes and tools of the area’s nine hill tribe groups (Karen, Hmong, Akha, Mien, Lisu, Lahu, Lau, Thin and Khamu) are on display at the indoor component of this ethnographic museum, while examples of their traditional dwellings are on display in the outdoor area set among tropical gardens. The museum also hosts tribal festivals and tribal markets.

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Elephant Nature Park

A sanctuary for former ill-treated Asian elephants, the Elephant Nature Park encourages visitors to learn about the plight of these mammals and their habitat through activities, such as feeding and helping to care for the resident herd. Elephant rides are not offered at the park, a policy the park encourages in other elephant camps.

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Lamphun

The quiet town of Lamphun offers travelers a charming escape from the busier streets of Chiang Mai. Shallow moats and the peaceful River Kuang border the provincial capital, where local longan fruits are said to be the sweetest in the country; each August the town comes to celebrate its harvest during the annual Lam Yai festival.

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Elephant Parade House

The Thai organization Elephant Parade draws attention to the plight of the Asian elephant by exhibiting brightly painted elephant statues in international cities. At Elephant Parade House in Chiang Mai, visitors can admire sculptures painted by artists and celebrities and buy souvenirs to help save these endangered animals.

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Ban Hmong Mae Sa Mai Village

One of the most fascinating and enriching aspects of traveling to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand is the opportunity to learn about the history and culture of some of the local hill tribes. The Hmong, believed to be the first inhabitants of the Yellow River Valley in China, are today one of the most successful tribes in Thailand, and Ban Hmong Mae Sa Mai Village is one of the most accessible Hmong villages from Chiang Mai.

Only reachable via four-wheel vehicles, the mountain village is somewhat of a step back in time, as local residents often don their traditional garb and demonstrate to visitors what day to day life is like in a Hmong village. Since the village is frequented by tourists, the village houses a few shops selling Hmong handicrafts.

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Wat Kukut (Wat Chama Thewi)

Wat Kukut(Wat Chama Thewi), which means “wat with no top,” received its name after a golden stupa was removed from its crown more than one hundred years ago. While this beautiful example of traditional Buddhist architecture is one of Northern Thailand’s most impressive, Wat Kukut remains a quiet escape that’s rarely overrun with tourists.

The towering structure showcases some of the area’s most well-preserved Dvaravati-period art and the temple provides shelter for about a dozen crumbling religious statues. Lucky travelers may find they are the sole visitor to this historic site, but local monks often find their way to Wat Kukut, too. Visitors can wander the peaceful grounds, where a winding river and lush garden provide plenty of space for quiet contemplation.

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Baan Chang Elephant Park

The Baan Chang Elephant Park, a nonprofit rescue center and elephant sanctuary, rescues working and orphaned baby elephants from unsavory conditions such as logging camps and circuses. At the sanctuary, they're given the new "job" of teaching visitors to respect and help conserve wild elephant populations.

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More Things to Do in Northern Thailand

Araksa Tea Plantation

Araksa Tea Plantation

Located atop a hill in the lush countryside that surrounds Chiang Mai, the Araksa Tea Plantation is one of the oldest plantations of its kind in Thailand. Specializing in producing high quality black Assam tea, Araksa's rich soil and high elevation make for ideal planting and conditions, allowing for the cultivation of quality tea leaves.

Open to the public to explore, a trip to the plantation will give you an insight into the origins of Thailand’s loved beverage. Stroll through the tea plants, help pick the leaves, learn the art of brewing the perfect cup, and, of course, sample some of the aromatic Assam tea for yourself.

During your behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the tea plantation, you can also learn more about the history of tea-making in Thailand, from its traditions to the various production processes involved.

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Country of Arts 3D Gallery

Country of Arts 3D Gallery

One of a wave of 3-D galleries that’s taken southeast Asia by storm, Country of Arts 3D Gallery occupies three stories in downtown Ubon Ratchathani. Visit to take a wealth of pictures against backdrops, often utilizing props, for hilarious trick-eye photos.

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