At 8am, meet your expert guide and driver upon hotel pickup in Chiang Mai and board your private vehicle for the drive to Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. Before the crowds arrive, stop at Phra That Doi Suthep Temple, located near the top of Mt Suthep.
Built in the 14th century, the Buddhist monastery offers onlookers a breathtaking sight of traditional Thai architecture and richly decorated murals and shrines, including a replica of the Emerald Buddha. Ascend the 300 steps to the temple for a majestic view over Chiang Mai.
Continue to Doi Pui Village, a Hmong community close to top of Doi Pui. Your guide will tell you about the turbulent history of this community — from past opium cultivation to present-day tourist attraction. Walk around the village before meeting your local Hmong guide, who will accompany you on a hike to the Hmong village of Ban Mae Sa Mai, located in the Mae Sa Valley.
Embark on a 4-hour trek along a nature trail on the slopes of Doi Suthep, passing wild banana trees and natural water features as you glimpse magnificent views through the thick foliage of the forest. Walk at a leisurely pace, with plenty of time to stop for photographs and discuss the natural environment. Your local Hmong guide will provide a leaflet for plant and tree identification, and inform you about the history of opium cultivation on the mountain. You’ll learn about the Royal Project aimed at convincing local people to grow fruit trees and other cash crops instead of opium.
After a trek uphill you will arrive at an open area with fantastic views on both sides of the mountain. Stop briefly to look at a footprint of Buddha before enjoying a Thai picnic lunch at a scenic spot.
When you reach the Hmong village of Ban Mae Sa Mai, the largest Hmong community in Northern Thailand, you’ll find few visitors in marked contrast with Doi Pui Village. Learn about the interesting local project of FORRU, the forest restoration unit of Chiang Mai University, supported by your included donation fee. You’ll visit the small Hmong museum and the FORRU tree nursery before returning back to Chiang Mai.