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Northern Thailand Road Trip

Northern Thailand Road Trip

It’s been over 3 months since we moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand. We’ve been catching up here like crazy on the website, working on some new projects, and of course, traveling a little. We have made time to travel to explore Angkor Wat and visit our friend Sok in Siem Reap Cambodia. We found ourselves exploring Bangkok in 3 days with a friend from home. We took a boat ride back to our favorite island in the world Koh Lipe Thailand. We even made it all the way over to India to celebrate the Holi festival. But the easiest getaway would be a road trip!

One thing we had never done before was to explore our own backyard, Northern Thailand. We’ve been to Chiang Mai twice now 2014 & 2015 and hadn’t made it to the famous White Temple in Chiang Rai. Our friends Brittany & Charlie couldn’t believe we had never left the city limits of Chiang Mai. So we all decided to take a road trip together. They needed to do a border run so we tied in Chiang Rai, Golden Triangle, Mae Sai (where they could get their border run in ), and Chiang Dao. We opted to get the tiniest car that would fit us(sort of), for only $52 a couple. We had a lovely Toyota Yaris for 3 days. It fit us and our luggage fine, but it didn’t like the hills or getting up to speed… It did the job.

We opted to get the tiniest car that would fit us(sort of), for only $52 a couple. We had a lovely Toyota Yaris for our 3 day Thailand road trip. It fit us and our luggage fine, but it didn’t like the hills or getting up to speed… It did the job.

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Thailand road trip- our rental car

Our friends picked us up early and we were off on our adventure. Naturally, our first stop was an hour later for coffee at the hot springs outside of town. Then again another hour later for a 7-Eleven stop, Brittany & I got our ham & cheese toastie sandwiches while the boys got roadside noodle soup.

Thailand road trip stopping for coffee

We finally reached Chiang Rai, we decided to explore the Black House before checking into our hotel. Baan Dam, which translates in English to “Black House” is a temple style art gallery. Inside the main temple, you will find decorations & furniture made mostly out of animal parts: Water buffalo horns, snake skins, alligators, sheepskins, cowhides, you name it! The Black House is slightly creepy – but interesting.

Thailand road trip -the black house

After the Black House, we attempted to find parking near our hotel, we all quickly realized how much we don’t miss owning a car. Eventually found a spot good for a few hours, we found a happy hour had a few Chang beer’s before we headed over to the White Temple for sunset.

Thailand road trip the black house Chiang Rai

We made our way to Wat Rong Khun also known as the White Temple located 13km outside of Chiang Rai. Last year there was an earthquake in Thailand that has damaged the temple, and guests can no longer go inside. If you look close you can see the top of the temple is broken, and it’s leaning slightly. We actually liked the fact that no one can go in, this lets you take tourist-free pictures of the temple.

Thailand road trip -Chiang Rai the White Temple

We ended our first night at the Saturday night market, eating spicy Thai food and washing it down with a few Thai beers. We were back on the road by 9 a.m. again as we had a big day planned. Our first stop was to drive through the Golden Triangle where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar borders all meet.

Must Read: Thailand Travel Tips To Know Before Traveling

Thailand road trip -The Golden Triangle

The area around the Golden Triangle is also well-known for growing opium back in the day (possibly still), we even paid a visit to the opium museum.

Thailand road trip- Opium museum

We didn’t cross into Laos or Myanmar as we were currently in the middle of our 60-day visa, and doing so would screw that up. Our friends, however, did quick step foot into Mae Sai, Myanmar as their visas were up. After a quick border run for them, we were back on the road for the long ride to Chiang Dao. If you are ever in need of a border run or extension consider doing it here, it only took about 5 minutes. To apply for an extension in Chiang Mai, this would easily take most of a day.

We drove through the mountains on our way south to Chiang Dao with some pretty, but curvy roads. We pulled in Chiang Dao just after dark. The owner of our cute bungalows was waiting for us when we got there. He then recommended a restaurant down the road, he, however, forgot to mention it was family style. The menu had no prices, so we each ordered a dish for ourselves and a bunch of beers. When the food came we realized it was a family-style restaurant… and we had enough food for a family of 15. The check came, and we were all bracing ourselves for the damage, but it turned out to only be $6 per person to fill themselves silly, WINNING! We rolled ourselves back to our bungalows and called it an early night.

Thailand road trip -Our group

On the last day of our Thailand road trip, we slept in, had breakfast, and figured out our plan for the day. We all wanted to visit the Chiang Dao caves, but Charlie’s uncle mentioned you could hire a local lady with a lantern to lead you through some other more adventurous caves. Well, we found the ladies with the lanterns who then had us on our hands & knees crawling through holes in the caves. There were bats everywhere and us girls weren’t ready for this much of an adventure.

Thailand road trip- Chiang Dao caves

358 miles later and our trip had come to end. We found ourselves back in Chiang Mai just in time for lunch. It was great to get out of town for the weekend and see some of Northern Thailand on a little road trip. We got a few things checked off the bucket list. We hope to get our parent’s to Thailand next year and take them on the same road trip, I know they’d love it.


Monday 4th of July 2016

For youth generation this type of articles was totally bored but your article was fully different and realistic to the young generation for the future life.


Thursday 21st of May 2015

Thinking about doing a similar trip at the end of the month for our visa run. Hope ye guys are enjoying Africa :)

Chad soon.


Tuesday 24th of March 2015

Gorgeous! Missing out on the White Temple is one of the few regrets I have from my trip to Thailand.. you guys did it right! A road trip would be so fun!


Wednesday 25th of March 2015

A road trip was super fun, and really easy to self-drive yourself highly recommend.


Tuesday 24th of March 2015

Great post! I've never been to Northern Thailand and it looks very different from the islands (except for the caves - I had to leave one just minutes after paying the entrance fee because of all the bats!) ;-)


Tuesday 24th of March 2015

Northern Thailand is way different, you should come check it out! The bats were a little much for me too...

Sand In My Suitcase

Monday 23rd of March 2015

The Hall of Opium in Chiang Rai is an amazing, world-class museum. We found it quite fascinating... Wrote a blog post on it too, entitled "No Clear Villains at Thailand's Hall of Opium."


Tuesday 24th of March 2015

Will check out your post, thanks for sharing!