Fall / Winter

November 4 – November 13, 2019
Loi Krathong Festival of Light
Lead Guide: Thong Chai

October 23 – November 1, 2020
Loi Krathong Festival of Light
Lead Guide: Thong Chai


10 days in Thailand
Trekking Grade: Beginner


Talk to an ADVENTURE expert



Also known as the land of a thousand smiles, Thailand is a perfect destination for those looking to experience food and culture. While most travelers opt to spend their time on the beach, we pride ourselves on a unique and less traveled path to the Northern province of Chiang Mai. Lush jungle environments dominate the landscape and offer outdoor activities unique to this region. A mixture of adventure travel and cultural emersion will give way to memories of a lifetime.

Thailand Northern Explorer • 10 Days

We start our trip in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand and the international trade hub of South East Asia. This city is home to over eight million people, including the Royal Family. We will venture out into the city on local tuk-tuks and see some of the sights before flying to Chiang Mai. The north of Thailand has a distinct feel, as the people are friendlier and the pace of life slower. Did we mention the food is amazing too? Chiang Mai served as the seat of the Lanna Kingdom for centuries and was founded by King Mangrai in 1262.

This area was heavily involved in the harvesting of teak wood, known for its resistance to rot and sturdy fibers. In the past elephants were domesticated and used as draft animals to move these giant trees in the jungle covered mountains. Teak harvesting was banned in 1989 and with the decline in production many elephants lost their homes. Today these elephants are cared for at local sanctuaries where people can learn more about them and interact with them.

A few hours north of Chiang Mai lies Doi Luang Chiang Dao, the second highest point in Thailand at 7,135 ft. We will spend the night at the foot of the mountain and then hike through the jungle to our camp before witnessing an amazing sunrise.

We finish our trip by spending time relaxing on a floating hotel in the middle of Mae Gnat Dam. One of the late King Bhumibols’ Royal Projects, these dams were built to help farmers control the monsoon rains. Lucky for us they also make great places to swim, kayak, and relax.

Loy Krathong and Yi Peng Festival of Light

Fly your lantern in Chiang Mai… The lantern festival is celebrated throughout Thailand by releasing lotus shaped baskets, decorated with candles and flowers onto the rivers. On the same day, another light festival, called Yi Peng, is celebrated alongside Loy Krathong in Northern Thailand. It is different in that lights are placed into sky lanterns. Swarms of sky lanterns, decorated with good luck wishes and prayers are released to the sky. Yi Peng is a Lanna festival with the biggest celebration held in Chiang Mai, which is the ancient capital of the former Lanna Kingdom.

Loy Krathong is usually celebrated on the evening of the full moon on the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. It is believed that the light festival originated with paying homage to the spirits of the rivers and thanking the water god for the rains.

  • Thousands of baskets with candles floating on the river at night
  • Swarms of lanterns flying to the sky in Chiang Mai
  • A Buddhist purification ceremony to cleanse your spirit
  • Making your private wish among the huge crowds of people
  • Candles flickering on the streets at night
  • Traditional Thai dance shows

Since the festival only happens once per year and can be enjoyed over several days, Mountain Gurus offers the festival as an optional event which may require an additional night in Thailand. Options range from simply floating your lantern and watching a free parade, fireworks or attending an exclusive event with thousands of sky lanterns and cultural Lanna festival.


If you are looking for a invigorating and exotic adventure, consider our Thailand Explorer. Our trips to Southeast Asia are led by Mountain Gurus’ Director of Operations Brian Houle who has spent over 6 years living and working in Chiang Mai, as well as the surrounding region. Thailand is a perfect locale for a thrilling vacation – you can enjoy tropical jungles, amazing marketplaces, delicious food, and a deep cultural experience.

What can I do in Thailand?

The better question would be: what can’t you do in Thailand? The Land of Smiles is known for its temperate climate and friendly people and is the perfect destination for those looking for more than your typical tourist destination. Because of the wide variety of activities available, our Thailand Explorer trip focuses on the ancient Lanna Kingdom in the north. For those who prefer to go off the beaten path alone, we can organize a self-guided tour personalized just for you.

What sport adventures are available in Thailand?

If you like to combine vacation with outdoor sports, Thailand has plenty to choose from. If water sports are your thing, the beautiful waters of Thailand are perfect for scuba diving, paddle boarding and snorkeling. Cliff-jumping, caving, kayaking, white water rafting, and rock climbing are easily accessible.

Inland water challenges can include white water rafting, kayaking and canoeing are all popular modes of river exploration. Hiking into the hills can be fun, but it’s made more magical when combined with an elephant trek that can take you high into the lush hills of Chiang Mai to explore tribal villages and spectacular vistas. And if speed and heights are your thing, there’s zip lining in the canopy of the ancient Thai rain forest. No matter what type of multi-sport adventure you crave, we can fulfill it in Thailand!

What about exploring the local culture?

Thailand has a rich history that is worth the journey. In ages past, this beautiful country was known as the Kingdom of Siam and its culture was heavily influenced by India, Laos, Burma, Cambodia, and China. Enjoy magnificent Buddhist temples (called Wats) – some of the most ornate and spectacular are in Bangkok and the ancient city of Chiang Mai. Hikes into local mountain villages and visits to the local bazaars and markets will all allow you to soak up the local culture while enjoying shopping and a glimpse into everyday life.

What are some nearby destinations I can include in my customized tour?

Angkor Wat in nearby Northwestern Cambodia – considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World – is the largest religious monument in the world. As you explore this ancient temple you will see both Hindu and Buddhist iconography and statuary. This Wat is in Siem Reap which also has a historic French Quarter, nightlife, local culture, and markets.

Also close to Thailand is Laos – a perfect destination to add on to your Thailand trip. There you can enjoy the romantic city of Luang Prabang and its ancient temples. For more adventure, the hill country of Laos offers multi-sport activities. We also offer a Golden Triangle tour that includes two days travel via slow boat from the Thai border down the Mekong River.

Why travel with Mountain Gurus?

Because we have been exploring Thailand for decades we offer a deeper insight to Thai culture, food, and sights that few see. If you want romance, we can design a trip with beachside candlelight dining, relaxing in the sun on pristine beaches, and low impact hikes. If you are interested in luxury, we can design a five star journey to pamper you as you explore. For those who prefer the wild outdoors, we offer the best multi-sport outings in Thailand.

Thailand is an adventurer’s dream come true. With our custom tours, you do not have to choose sports or culture or romance – we can customize a trip for you that combines any or all these aspects. The best times to travel to Thailand is during the cool season (November – January).

Trek Highlights

  • 10 days exploration in Thailand
  • Traditional Northern Thai food
  • Elephant sanctuary
  • White water rafting
  • Trekking the second highest point in Thailand, Doi Luang Chiang Dao
  • Co-led by Thai and western guides
  • Lanna Thai Welcome Dinner in Chiang Mai
  • 9 Breakfast, 6 Lunch, 2 Dinner
  • Guided tour of Bangkok and Chiang Mai
  • Shopping and exploration of the Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar or Saturday Walking Street
  • Loy Krathong Festival of Light
  • Friendly MG office staff will help prepare you for the adventure

Day to Day Itinerary

Day 1 • Arrive Bangkok
Day 2 • Explore Bangkok
Day 3 • Flight to Chiang Mai, Night Bazaar
Day 4 • Mae Gnat Dam
Day 5 • River Rafting
Day 6 • Elephant Nature Park
Day 7 • Doi Lunag Chiang Dao Trek
Day 8 • Doi Lunag Chiang Dao Trek
Day 9 • Zipline Tour
Day 10 • Explore Chiang Mai


Northern Thailand Explorer

Trek begins in Bangkok and ends in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Day 1 • Arrive Bangkok

After arriving in Bangkok, transfer to the hotel on your own. We stay on the famous Sukhumvit Road or near by the Chao Phraya river in the historic district of old Bangkok. We will explore the surrounding area and get our first taste of Thai culture and food.

Accommodations: Hotel in Bangkok

Day 2 • Explore Bangkok

We will start the day early at the local market place, the heart of Thai life. This is also a great place to view the traditional alms giving to monks. It will also give you some experience speaking Thai! The rest of the day will be dedicated to seeing important landmarks like Wat Arun, The Royal Palace, Wat Pho, a canal tour, and strolling through Chinatown as time allows. We will utilize a mixture of Tuk-tuks and water taxis for a more authentic tour of the city.

Accommodations: Hotel in Bangkok
Meals Included: Breakfast (B, L)

Day 3 • Flight to Chiang Mai • Explore

On this day we will take a quick early morning flight north to the northern capital of Chiang Mai. Once checked in to our hotel, we will then explore Chiang Mai’s old city surrounded by its historic fortifications, stone walls, and a moat. We visit the temples of Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra Singh. During dinner, we enjoy traditional Northern Thai cuisine. Then explore the colorful Night Bazaar or Saturday Night Walking Street on your own.

Accommodations: Hotel in Chiang Mai
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lanna Thai Welcome Dinner (B, D)

Day 4 • Mae Ngat Dam

One of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s major initiatives was building a serious of dams to help stabilize rice farming in the area. We will take a long tail boat to our accommodation, a floating hotel in the middle of the lake! Our day will consist of swimming, kayaking, or relaxing.

Accommodations: Floating House Boat in Mae Ngat
Meals Included: Breakfast (B)

Day 5 • White Water Rafting

Nestled deep in the mountains of Northern Thailand the Mae Teang river flows downhill into the Chiang Mai River. We will start the day with a safety briefing and then make our way down white-water rapids. Depending on the season this will include Class III or IV rapids. After our visit we will transfer to Chiang Dao, a sleepy village a few hours further north.

Accommodations: Hotel in Mae Tang
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch (B, L)

Day 6 • Elephant Nature Park

We pack our things and jump back on the longtail boat and transfer to shore. Elephants, “chang,” have been a traditional part of logging in Northern Thailand for centuries. With the abolishment of the teak logging industry many of these elephants were left to fend for themselves. Elephant Nature Park serves as a place for retired elephants to live out the rest of their lives peacefully. In the afternoon we visit a hill tribe community such as the Lisu, Karen, Akha, and Hmong.

Accommodations: Hotel in Chiang Dao
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch (B, L)

Day 7 • Summit Doi Luang Chiang Dao at Sunset

After a hearty breakfast we will check in with the park rangers and start our hike up the pristine slopes of Doi Luang Chiang Dao, the second highest mountain in Thailand at 7,136 feet. This area was once the location of many poppy fields that fed the Golden Triangle heroin trade. Once reaching camp, we take a short break and hike up the final ascent for a spectacular sunset over the mountains of Northern Thailand. We settle in for the evening and have a nice dinner.

Altitude ascent: 2600 feet
Trekking times: 5-6 hour hike to camp, 30 minute hike to summit

Accommodations: Tented Camp on Doi Luang Chiang Dao
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (B, L, D)

Day 8 • Summit Doi Luang Chiang Dao at Sunrise

An early morning start leads to an ascent to the top of Doi Kiew Lom sunrise viewpoint. Sunrises on top of this peak are breathtaking, with the ability to see over the plains of Northern Thailand to the east and into Myanmar to the west. After descending back to camp we will pack up and make our way down to the trailhead.

Altitude ascent: 400 feet
Trekking times: 1 hour hike to sunrise viewpoint, 4 hour decent to trailhead

Accommodations: Hotel in Chiang Dao or Chiang Mai
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch (B, L)

Day 9 • Zipline Tour or Rock Climbing

This morning we transfer to the old growth forests of Mae Rim Valley. After a safety check we will zip through the canopy, viewing some of the last wild gibbons in this area.

For those interested in rock climbing, we offer the option of basic rock climbing instruction in place of the Zipline tour at additional expense. Climbers will gain knowledge of basic rock climbing terminology, gear, and climbing movement.

During the evening, continue exploring Chiang Mai’s old city. Depending on the groups interests we can visit Buddhist temples, giant markets, Thai massage, or simply enjoy a stroll through the city.

Accommodations: Hotel in Chiang Mai
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch (B, L)

Day 10 • Depart Chiang Mai

Departure day, transfer to the airport on your own or stay and explore Thailand further. If attending during the Loy Krathong festival, you can opt to stay an extra night and join the Lanna Thai celebration.

Meals Included: Breakfast (B)

Itinerary Notes
Mountain Gurus makes every effort to uphold the scheduled itinerary, although our guides are given discretion to adapt the itinerary for reasons beyond our control or due to the needs of the group. Meal schedule: (B) Breakfast (L) Lunch (D) Dinner




Optional: The Loi Krathong and Yi Peng Festival of Light may require an extra night in Chiang Mai at additional cost. We are also happy to arrange a day of rock climbing or caving for those wanting more adventure.

Rates are quoted based on double sharing hotel accommodations while in Thailand. Single room fees apply. An American co-guide is based on 6 or more trekkers.

Deposit and Payments

$700.00 deposit includes reservation fee, due with application
Balance due 120 days prior to departure

Price Includes

  • Scheduled land transportation in Thailand
  • Hotels and camping in Thailand based on the itinerary
  • All scheduled meals
  • Doi Luang Chiang Dao park fees
  • All support staff and guide staff
  • All group equipment (including tents, stoves, etc.)

Price Does Not Include

  • International airfare and meals during travel
  • Domestic airfare (Bangkok – Chiang Mai – Bangkok)
  • Visa fees
  • Airport transfers
  • Entrance fees
  • Non-scheduled meals, drinks, or alcoholic beverages
  • Snack/lunch food during the trek
  • Personal gear
  • Non-scheduled porter services
  • Trip cancellation insurance (highly recommended)
  • Single room supplement (hotels only) $450
  • Medical and evacuation coverage
  • Early departure fees
  • Tips and gratuities


A complete clothing and equipment list specific to your trip will be sent to you in the PreClimb information upon reservation.

Head and Face

  • Sun Hat or Baseball Cap
  • Sunglasses: Essential eye protection at altitude.
  • LED Headlamp: Bring one extra set of batteries.
  • Sunscreen: SPF 30+
  • Lip Balm: SPF 30+

Upper Body

  • Baselayer Tops: Cotton or synthetic short-sleeve shirts.
  • Mid-layer Top: This is a synthetic or fleece top.
  • Softshell Jacket: This breathable but wind-and-weather resistant jacket. Hoods are highly recommended.
  • Poncho or Light Rain Jacket: Quick and handy protection for body and rucksack

Lower Body

  • Quick Dry Shorts: Good for camp or hiking at lower elevations in the mountains.
  • Trekking Pants: One pair. Synthetic, stretchy, non-insulated (Required while trekking in the jungle)
  • Rain Pants: Bring a good pair of rain/wind pants.


  • Trekking Socks: Two pair synthetic light weight
  • Trekking Shoes: One pair medium weight hiking boots/shoes large enough to be comfortable with sock.
  • Sport Sandals: These are to wear in during tour days.

Packing and Backpack

  • Backpack: One 30L pack with good support, adequate to carry personal.


  • Sleeping Bag: Bring a warm bag (rated to 20ᵒ fahrenheit).

Personal Health and First Aid

  • Small personal first-aid kit and medications



Program Location:
Begins in Bangkok and ends in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Visa/Entry Information:
Passport must have six months or more validity remaining at the time of entry. American citizens may obtain entry on arrival for no fee, valid for 30 days.

Health & Immunizations:
Immunizations are not required for entry into Thailand

Flight Travel Information:
Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK), Thailand

International Departures:
Itineraries reflect the date and time you will need to arrive in country for a program. Mountain Gurus programs begin and end in the countries destination city. When booking your flight, you will need to account for travel time and crossing the international dateline if needed. It is easiest to give your booking agent the day and time you will need to arrive.

Meals and Food:
All meals are provided as per meal schedule. See itinerary.

A complete clothing and equipment list specific to your program will be sent to you in the pre-departure packet upon reservation. For your safety and comfort, it is extremely important that you adhere strictly to the equipment list.

Northern Thailand Explorer Fitness & Training

Trekking Grade: Beginner

Basic fitness is needed for this trip. Most of our activities will be day trips with adequate time to recover each night.

Prior to the expedition we recommend running, hiking local peaks, backpacking and trekking to gain strength and stamina for the climb.

Here’s a suggested progression before joining the Northern Thailand Explorer:

  • Backpacking and international travel experience a plus
  • Mount Fuji, Machu Picchu, optional

Frequently Asked Questions

What will my pack weight be?

Pack weights usually range between 20 – 25lbs for the Doi Luang Chiang Dao trek.

Do I need to treat the water?

All water will be treated chemically or boiled. Bottled water is recommended when in town or at the hotel.

What if I arrive early or the trip ends early / or late?

If you arrive early we are happy to book extra nights at the hotel. If the trip finishes earlier or later than expected be prepared by purchasing travel insurance or a flexible return ticket.

How much extra cash should I bring?

If you plan on purchasing non-scheduled services bring between $300 – $500 USD in cash. Remember, gratuities for guide and camp staff are not included. It is customary to tip guides 10% of the trip cost. Credit cards are also accepted at most ATM’s in the city, remember to tell your bank you will be out of the country.

What is the skill level required for this climb?

Most of the day trips are fairly easy and there will be ample recovery time between activities. The hike up Doi Luang Chiang Dao is moderately strenuous. It is recommend you engage in aerobic training such as running, hiking, backpacking, or cycling beginning at least three months before your departure. Anyone with moderate physical fitness is welcome to join the trek.

For those interested in rock climbing, we offer the option of basic rock climbing instruction in place of the Zipline tour at additional expense. Climbers will gain knowledge of basic rock climbing terminology, gear, and climbing movement.

Who will be guiding?

Our Northern Thailand treks are co-led by Thai and western guides with extensive experience leading our teams.

An American co-guide is based on 6 or more trekkers. The adventure requires a minimum number of participants due to the expense of having a Western guide lead the trek.