Photo: Just keep walking.

Hilltribe trekking from Chiang Mai

Our rating:

Once upon a time if you wanted to go trekking in Thailand you headed to Chiang Mai, and if you travelled to Chiang Mai it was usually because you were intending to go on a trek. Things have changed.

Travel better, travel smarter

Save money, receive our latest updates and get the most out of your travels.


Chiang Mai has become a destination in its own right with a wide range of alternative activities on offer, and at the same time, many alternative trekking destinations such as Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son and especially Pai, not to mention neighbouring Laos, have opened up. Tastes have also changed and the traditional three-day trek with inclusive elephant ride, bamboo rafting and overnight in remote hilltribe villages doesn’t have the same cachet among backpackers that it did 20 years ago. One-day programmes are now at least as popular.

Left right left right... Photo taken in or around Hilltribe trekking from Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Left right left right... Photo: Mark Ord

Travellers today perhaps aren’t as prepared to rough it in a basic bamboo Lisu hut as they used to be, and prefer doing day hikes out of a chic boutique hilltribe lodge instead. It's also worth noting that remote villages and untouched wild areas just don’t really exist anymore. Back in the day, Chiang Mai villagers seemed genuinely surprised to see foreigners, and we once trekked through some pretty wild areas including fields full of opium poppies—now long gone.

These days while it's well-tamed adventure, it can still be a great experience. Some popular budget spots as well as top-end hotels and resorts may have their own in-house guide and programmes, but there are still quite a few specialist trekking operators ... Travelfish members only (Around 800 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

Don’t miss the boat!

Please subscribe to to read the rest of this article, or log in here.

Subscribing to Travelfish costs A$35 per year and it gets you access to more than 200 downloadable guides to specific destinations, fabulous discount coupons and 50% off our personalised travel planning service. Sign up here.


Book a flight, train, bus, taxi or ferry in Thailand with 12Go Asia

Popular attractions in Chiang Mai

A selection of some of our favourite sights and activities around Chiang Mai.

Best places to stay in Chiang Mai

A selection of some of our favourite places to stay in Chiang Mai.

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Chiang Mai.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Chiang Mai.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Chiang Mai.
 Read up on how to get to Chiang Mai, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Chiang Mai? Please read this.
 Buy a SIM card for Thailand—pick it up at the airport when you arrive.
 Browse the web securely while travelling with TunnelBear. Try with a 7–day free trial.

Heading to Thailand?
Heading to Thailand?
Ad Search for cheap flights to Thailand
on Skyscanner.

Read more

See below for more sights and activities in Chiang Mai that are listed on

Top of page

Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Chiang Mai? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Thailand.

Top of page