Meet your guide during hotel pickup in Chiang Mai and get comfortable in your private minibus for the drive to Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. Your first stop is Phra That Doi Suthep Temple, a 14th-century Buddhist monastery that houses an Emerald Buddha replica. Arrive before the crowds for a look at the ornate murals and classic Thai design, and climb the 300 steps for a panoramic view over Chiang Mai.
Hear about the complicated history of the local Hmong community en route to Doi Pui village, where you’ll meet up with a Hmong guide to accompany you on a hike to Ban Mae Sa Mai village, the largest Hmong community in Northern Thailand.
The 4-hour trek to the Mae Sa Valley follows a leisurely pace along a nature trail, taking you through dense forest past wild banana trees and water features, and includes photo stops. Learn some plant and tree identification, and hear about the opium cultivation once prevalent in the region, which now supports fruit trees and other agricultural projects. Eat a Thai picnic lunch at a scenic spot and get a glimpse of an alleged footprint of the Buddha.
Upon reaching Ban Mae Sa Mai, you’ll find few visitors in marked contrast with Doi Pui. Learn about the forest restoration project of Chiang Mai University called FORRU, which your included donation fee supports. Visit the FORRU tree nursery and a small Hmong museum before your private vehicle transports you back to Chiang Mai.