The trekking industry in Chiang Mai offers an impressive variety of itineraries, with over two hundred agencies covering nearly all trekkable areas of the north. Most treks include a ride on an elephant and a bamboo-raft excursion, though the amount of actual walking included can vary greatly. A few operators offer something a little different. Eagle House runs the standard type of trek, with elephants and rafting, but to carefully chosen quiet areas and with an educational bent, and passes on a proportion of costs towards funding projects in hill-tribe villages. Moving upmarket, the Trekking Collective can arrange pricey but high-quality customized treks from one to five days and can cater for specific interests such as bird-watching; it too is involved in community programmes to help tribal people.
Meanwhile, Chiangmai Green Alternative Tours, an eco-friendly and culturally sensitive operation 100m north of TAT at 31 Thanon Chiangmai–Lamphun, offers a fascinating diversity of worthwhile nature field trips. Sharing the proceeds with knowledgeable local guides, they can take you up Doi Suthep, Doi Inthanon or Doi Chiang Dao on one-day or multi-day trips, including bird-watching specialities.
For a wide range of adventure tours, including whitewater rafting on the Pai River, trekking, cycling and kayaking, a long-standing, general agency is Contact Travel, based at Tasala to the east of town.
If you just fancy a gentle paddle up and down the Ping River in town, kayaks can be rented from Wat Faham on Thanon Fa Ham (B100). For those with a head for heights, Flight of the Gibbon offers full-day rainforest canopy tours on zip lines and sky bridges in the hills to the east of town.