Family holiday in Northern Thailand with a Local Personal Guide
Northern Thailand is a fantastic place for a family holiday. This is the place to see rainforests, waterfalls, the mountain tribes (The long-necked, the long-eared, and so on) and special temples. There are also factories of many handmade things: Umbrella-making, woodcraft, silk factories, etc. Of course, there are also many kinds of animals to see, and you can ride elephants in the jungle there, too.
Northern Thailand is also an ideal place for shopping: There are markets of every kind in the big cities and the towns, great shopping malls, and the option to just drop by Burma or Laos and shop in markets there. The prices are lower than in southern Thailand, and many times you can find great finds for even cheaper than in Bangkok.
The massages (a
must-try experience for anyone in Thailand, even kids)
are also very cheap, as is the food. This is the place
to try the best Thai foods for ridiculously low prices.
Speaking of food, this is also the best place to try a
Thai cooking class – a great experience for any age
which will teach you lots about the mysteries of Thai
cuisine. Don’t worry; most of the hard work is done for
The best starting point for a family trip in the north is Chiang Mai, the biggest and liveliest city in the area, where there are plenty of things to do. For a family travelling in the north, I recommend a combination of several days in Chiang Mai and a private jeep tour of 3-5 days north, to the Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai, the mountain tribes and the jungles.
There are a number of companies which offer to group you up with other travellers for a trip to these destinations; however, they are better suited for people travelling alone, couples, and especially young backpackers. A private tour offers full flexibility and allows you to tailor the tour to your family’s needs. You can ask to stop at any tropical fruit stall on the way (there are many!), feed the monkeys at the temple for two hours (Because your children will not want to leave, and rightfully so), and shop late in the evening at a market not mentioned in any guide book.
You can choose any kind of lodging you
want based on your style and price range. There is
honestly no reason to sleep in simple guest houses. Even
the beautiful, luxurious hotels are quite cheap.
My family and I travelled with Gam, an energetic Thai guide who was with us for five days we will never forget. On top of the many tourist attractions she took us to, we also got to go to wonderful markets, authentic local restaurants, and unique shows. She taught us much about the Thai way of life, about the customs, the culture, the royal family, and more. The comfortable jeep ride with her was very enjoyable and informative. Gam accommodated our every need and want, adjusted herself to our pace, and was available to us until well into the night. Even someone as active and energetic as me could not wear her out. On request, she drove out with me at 11PM (after dropping the rest of the family off at our hotel) to yet another local market.
Gam, the Thai guide, explaining things at the Buddhist temple
also knew just what children like. Her trips involve
elephant riding, sailing in baqmboo rafts on the river,
riding a carriage led by bulls, animal shows,
greenhouses full of orchids and butterflies, meeting the
women and children of the mountain tribes, boiling eggs
in the hot springs, and many other surprises...
Even after the trip ended and we went to stay in Chiang Mai, Gam was there for us. She recommended us a cooking course and booked it for us at a discounted price, helped us with transportation to the airport and other out-of-city locations, and answered every question.
There are many other private guides in northern Thailand, but I doubt you will find another guide as invigorated, hardworking and efficient ad Gam. With her, everything worked like clockwork. Every day, she arrived early and waited for us in the hotel lobby, ready to go. In every destination we were greeted with delicious meals. The hotels were exactly what we had wanted, and when we asked for a last minute change of plans to go to an extra destination, she immediately organised it without us having to pay extra for it. Another important advantage Gam has is her fluent English, something not to be taken for granted in Thailand.
Booking her tours early is recommended, but even if you get stuck in Chiang Mai after another tour guide stood you up (unfortunately, I have heard of cases such as this), or if you just want her advice, she will be there for you.
Information about her tours can be found at Gamtour.com. You can request any changes in the trip plan according to your preferences. Want fewer temples? More animals? More waterfalls? She will make sure you are satisfied.
Gam can be reached by phone at 053-128197 or 081-7643097. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is important to contact the guide you want several months before your trip, as the better ones are popular and may be booked out long in advance.
The view out of our hotel window , A cow and calf in a rice field.
A girl of the long-neck tribe
Sailing on a bamboo raft
More Thailand articles:
Animal Encounters for Families
The Jungles of Bangkok and the surrounding
Special Guided tours in Thailand
Family Vacation in Phuket
Vacationing in Koh Chang
A Trip from Bangkok to Khao Yai Reserve
Family Holiday in Koh Samui
The Islands of Thailand
Vacations Trips and Luxurious Hotels in Khao Lak