Doi Tung Royal Villa (Chiang Rai)
With the year-end set to welcome a chilly winter breeze, there’s no better time to go for a stroll around one of Thailand’s most popular royal projects. What began as an initiative to end opium cultivation resulted in acres and acres of beautiful, blossoming gardens.
Tip: Don’t forget to check out the new Doi Tung Tree Top walk, a 295-meter-long walkway where visitors can view the coffee plantations and the vetiver grass plantations from 30 meters above the ground. Entrance costs B150, which goes to the Mae Fah Luang Foundation.
Credit: Gitane Reveilleau
Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden (Chiang Mai)
Situated in the foothills of Doi Suthep mountain, the country’s premier botanical garden is home to some of the country’s most valuable plants, including several rare and endangered species, and provides both a scenic and educational day out.
Tip: While you’re there, take your nature walk to dizzying new heights at Thailand’s longest canopy walkway, a 20-something-meter-high and 400-meter-long bridge that stretches across the Mae Rim rainforest. Hikers are rewarded with stunning 360-degree views of the surrounding greenery and mountains.
Doi Inthanon National Park (Chiang Mai)
Nicknamed the “Roof of Thailand,” this park is located on the highest mountain in the country and is scattered with some of Thailand’s best waterfalls, including Nam Tok Mae Pan, Chiang Mai’s longest waterfall.
Tip: For something a little adventurous, take a three-hour hike along Kiu Mae Pan, a short trail that winds through a beautiful forest covered with rhododendrons, the flowers often found along the Himalayas. It’s definitely worth it when you arrive at the picturesque viewpoint at the end of the trail that overlooks layers and layers of mountains.
Baan Huay Hom (Mae Hong Son)
Located in HM King Bhumibol’s Mae La Noi Royal Project, this plantation is perfect for coffee addicts.Here, you’ll find the small Pga K’nyau village tribe who grow a strain of coffee used in Starbucks’ Muan Jai Thai coffee blend. Mid-November through mid-January are the best months to visit, where you can join in on the villagers’ routine during their coffee harvest.
Tip: Local homestays offer a fully immersive experience. It’ll only cost you B150 (excluding meals) per night—totally worth it for the stunning views and endless cups of coffee.
Pang Oong (Mae Hong Son)
Often referred to as the “Switzerland of Thailand,” this lake comes surrounded with a thick pine forest plus a beautiful mountainous backdrop, much like something taken straight out of Europe. It’s perfect for a natural escape from the heat, particularly at the year-end when temperatures sometimes drop to as low as zero.
Tip: There’s plenty of camping areas and guesthouses for rent around the lake, for those who want to make a weekend escape of it. Plus, well-constructed paths border the water for those who want to stay active with a breezy jog.
Ban Rak Thai, Mok Cham Pae, 084 481 9466. bit.ly/1KAAWFs
Brought to you by