Communities from all the hill tribes have settled around Chiang Rai, and the region offers the full range of terrain for trekking, from reasonably gentle walking trails near the Kok River to tough mountain slopes further north towards the Burmese border; elephant riding is included in most treks. However, this natural suitability has attracted too many tour and trekking agencies, and many of the hill-tribe villages, especially between Chiang Rai and Mae Salong, have become weary of the constant toing and froing; the south side of the river to the west of town is generally a better bet. Sizes of group treks from Chiang Rai tend to be smaller than those from Chiang Mai, often with just two or three people, with a maximum of about seven in a group. Nearly all guesthouses in Chiang Rai can fit you up with a trek – Chat House and Mae Hong Son Guest House are responsible and reliable, typically charging B2500–3500 per person for three days and two nights in a group of between two and six people. One place to avoid is the Union of Hilltribe Villages, just north of Chiang Rai’s airport, where people from various ethnic groups, including “long-neck” women, are brought to live together in an artificial village for the convenience of tourists.

More expensive treks are offered by several nonprofit foundations promoting community-based tourism that are based in and around Chiang Rai. The Hill Area and Community Development Foundation has set up Natural Focus, which offers one- to fifteen-day tours to learn about mountain life, as well as youth, workstay and volunteer skills programmes. Hilltribe Tour, part of the Mirror Art Group, runs tours, one- to three-day treks and longer village homestays, on which you can learn a hill-tribe skill such as weaving or playing an instrument. The development agency PDA at the Hilltribe Museum offers one- or multi-day jungle treks to non-touristy areas, usually including elephant riding and a longtail-boat trip. They also lay on a wide range of guided tours, to their Akha project at Ban Lorcha, Mae Salong and other places of interest. Most of the guesthouses can also arrange sightseeing tours, as well as boat trips, elephant rides and motorbike trekking.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Thailand features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The best places to eat in Bangkok

The best places to eat in Bangkok

With Michelin launching its first ever guide to the city, the food scene in Bangkok is (literally) on everybody’s lips right now. But with an estimated ten th…

10 May 2018 • Keith Drew insert_drive_file Article
Off the tourist trail in Southeast Asia: 5 underrated cities

Off the tourist trail in Southeast Asia: 5 underrated cities

Modern Bangkok, historical Hanoi and tourism-boom town Siem Reap — home to the world-famous Angkor Wat temples — are some of Southeast Asia's best drawcards…

21 Nov 2017 • Marco Ferrarese insert_drive_file Article
Video: a 1 minute guide to Thailand

Video: a 1 minute guide to Thailand

Whether you're planning a two-week holiday or an epic backpacking trip, Thailand remains one of our readers' favourite destinations, and with good reason. Th…

01 Nov 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs