Northern Thailand and Laos Hill Tribe Cultural Tour


Tour Closed* We’re sorry you missed this tour. Please contact us is you’re interested in being notified for future Thailand and Laos tours or if you’d like to join us for any of our other tours.

WanderTours Giving Program – A portion of your tour cost will go to support WEAVE (Women Education for Advancement and Empowerment) in Chiang Mai. You will have a chance to visit and learn more about this program during the tour.

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HIGHLIGHTS of the Thailand and Laos Hill Tribe Tour for Women

* Visit Bangkok’s most popular sights
* Immerse yourself in hill tribe village life in Northern Thailand and Luang Prabang, Laos
* Visit some of the most beautiful temples in all of Southeast Asia
* Rise early to see a procession of robed monks accepting alms
* Enjoy cooking classes in Bangkok and Luang Prabang
* Take a leisurely ride on the Mekong River on a traditional boat
* Returning WanderTours participants receive a 5% discount on land costs
* Tips for in-country guides and drivers included in price
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Thailand and Laos Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Saturday, March 25, 2017 – Bangkok
Meals: None

Day 1 is your arrival day into Bangkok. You’ll be met at the airport by a driver who will take you to the hotel. Most flights arrive late at night so it’s unlikely you’ll Reclining Buddha Bangkokhave time for sightseeing on this day, unless you arrive ahead of the tour or during daylight hours. Get a good night’s sleep and be ready for adventure the next day!

Overnight in Bangkok at The Landmark Bangkok or similar.

Day 2
Sunday, March 26, 2017 – Bangkok
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

After an early breakfast, we’ll head to Wat Pho to experience the monks’ early morning chanting ritual. Wat Pho is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Bangkok and is home to the famous 150-foot reclining Buddha. Also at the temple is one of the country’s first schools of traditional Thai massage.

We’ll then continue to The Grand Palace, the official residence of the King of Thailand. Here we’ll visit another of Bangkok’s most amazing Buddha statues – the beautiful Emerald Buddha, considered the most revered Buddha statue in Thailand.

After a traditional Thai lunch, we’ll visit the Jim Thompson House, a stunning teak residence that was the home of a charismatic American silk merchant. It includes several traditional teak buildings set amid a leafy compound right in the city. We’ll tour the house and learn about Thompson’s importance in the silk trade.

Dinner is on your own. There are many options in the area where the hotel is located. You might even consider a massage tonight!

Overnight in Bangkok at The Landmark Bangkok or similar.

HIGHLIGHT! Bangkok is a vibrant city with a tremendous number of sights to see and delicious food to eat. Today, we’ll get an excellent sampling of the city’s very best.

Day 3
Monday, March 27, 2017 – Bangkok
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Blue Elephant Cooking SchoolAfter breakfast, we’ll head to a Bangkok market to purchase ingredients for today’s cooking class! At the Blue Elephant Cooking School, we’ll learn how to prepare a variety of popular Thai dishes with an entertaining Thai chef. The class will be followed by a meal at the school’s restaurant where we’ll get to sample the tasty Thai food you’ve just created.

The afternoon is free for shopping and/or sightseeing on your own. Go forth and choose your own adventure! You’ll meet up with the group again for a lovely evening outing.

After a day of touring in this vibrant metropolis, we’ll enjoy dinner at The Gardens Restaurant. This modern and chic restaurant/café blends seamlessly into its surroundings. The Gardens is known for its outdoor greenery as well as its fauna including white peacocks, white rabbits and white swans. It really provides a calm and relaxed ambiance in the midst of Bangkok.

Overnight in Bangkok at The Landmark Bangkok or similar.

HIGHLIGHT! Thai food is fantastic. Today you’ll get to experience authentic Thai cooking and bring home recipes from a meal you’ve prepared yourself.

Day 4
Tuesday, March 28, 2017 – Bangkok – Chiang Mai
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, we’ll be met by our guide and transferred to the airport for our flight to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand.

Upon arrival, our guide and driver will take us to our hotel for check-in. We’ll then have lunch at Just Khao Soy for a Northern Thai meal.

After lunch and before an afternoon of touring, we’ll visit WEAVE Foundation, an Buddhist Temple Chiang Maiorganization that helps indigenous peoples (mainly women and children) along the Thailand/Myanmar border.

In the afternoon, we’ll take a tour that showcases the best of ancient Chiang Mai, including its old city walls, gates, moat and markets. We’ll visit Wat Suan Dok (where the ashes of Chiang Mai’s royal family are interred) and Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the most sacred temple in Northern Thailand that’s also called “the temple on the mountain.” In the late afternoon, we’ll partake in a private blessing ceremony and witness the magical evening chanting of the monks.

In the evening, we’ll enjoy a traditional khan toke dinner accompanied by Northern Thai folk dancing. Toke is a meal of Northern Thai dishes served on low, circular tables called toke.

After the dinner, we’ll get to light a floating Khom Loy lantern and launch it into the cool evening air. Tradition holds that by doing this, all your misfortunes will float away.

Overnight in Chiang Mai at Royal Princess or similar.

HIGHLIGHT! You’ll love Khao Soy, a curried noodle dish that was once popular as a street food, but is now a signature dish in the region. Meals are served in specially designed serving sets that consist of eight small ceramic dishes, placed around a large bowl and set on an artist’s palette.

Elephant on River Chiang MaiDay 5
Wednesday, March 29, 2017 – Chiang Mai
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Expect a special treat on Day 5! After breakfast, we’ll depart for the Elephant Nature Park, about an hour away. This park is a rescue and rehabilitation center for abused and neglected Asian elephants. At the park, elephants are taken care of and not used for entertainment or riding.

We’ll learn about the elephants of Southeast Asia and about their care, treatment and training. We’ll also have a chance to get up close and personal with the elephants, as we feed and bathe them!

* Note – consider bringing an extra set of clothes as you’ll get wet while bathing the elephants. Shorts and a t-shirt are best. No bathing suits, please.

In the evening, our guide will take us to the Night Market in the center of Chiang Mai. We’ll get to walk through stalls selling local crafts, clothes, souvenirs, fresh fruit and more.

Dinner’s on your own tonight. You might choose to snack at the market or have a sit-down meal at one of the many fantastic restaurants in Chiang Mai.

Overnight in Chiang Mai at Royal Princess or similar.

HIGHLIGHT! You’ll enjoy being around these truly extraordinary elephants and learning about what the Elephant Nature Park is doing for them.

Day 6
Thursday, March 30, 2017 – Chiang Mai – Mae Kham Pong
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

In the morning, we’ll depart for the village of Mae Kham Pong about 1.5 hours away. Along the way, we’ll enjoy views of the picturesque countryside outside of Chiang Mai. En route, we’ll also stop at a local market for fresh ingredients for the evening’s dinner at your host’s home. The village is situated at about 4,000 feet elevation and has only about 500 residents.

Upon arrival in the village, we’ll stroll through the forest, where we’ll pass tea and coffee fields on the way to a waterfall.

We’ll return to the village for lunch prepared by our hosts and then have some time to relax in the afternoon with a traditional Thai massage. Afterward, we’ll help our hosts prepare the evening’s meal.

Overnight in Mae Kham Pong, which is a homestay in the village!

HIGHLIGHT! Mae Kham Pong is a charming village in the mountains where the locals are friendly and welcoming to visitors. You’ll enjoy the peacefulness of the surroundings as well as the hospitality of this small community.

Day 7
Friday, March 31, 2017 – Mae Kham Pong – Chiang Rai
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

We’ll enjoy a hot breakfast at our homestay before taking a walk through the village to see how tea leaves are fermented as well as explore some other products made in the village. We’ll then head onward through the mountains to Chiang Rai and have lunch along the way.

In the evening, we’ll go to the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar where you can explore on your own and sample some local snacks or have dinner. Here you can also shop for handicrafts.

Overnight in Chiang Rai at Laluna Hotel & Resort or similar.

Long Neck Woman ThailandDay 8
Saturday, April 1, 2017 – Chiang Rai
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

We’ll start the day at the Hill Tribe Museum where the curator will offer some insights on the different hill tribe communities in the region.

Afterward, we’ll take a short drive (about 40 minutes) to Mae Chan district, where we’ll visit Akha and Yao hill tribes in the small town of Ban Pa Kam. We’ll then continue on to a Padaung (long-neck Karen) village in Ban Ya Pha. A short walk into the forest will lead us to a new Padaung settlement where villagers migrated from southern Burma just a few years ago. We’ll have a chance to visit with the villagers, who survive by hunting, farming and selling their handicrafts.

We’ll then continue to Doi Mae Salong and visit the Santikiri Kuo Min Tang Chinese refugee settlement. We’ll see tea and coffee plantations, and also visit local stores where villagers sell homemade wine and locally grown products.

We’ll return to the hotel in the late afternoon and you will have dinner on your own.

Overnight in Chiang Rai at Laluna Hotel & Resort or similar.

HIGHLIGHT! There are at least 10 different hill tribes in the region and we’ll see a number of them on this day. Most originate from other parts of Southeast Asia and China and have landed in this (relatively) peaceful area as refugees.

Day 9
Sunday, April 2, 2017 – Chiang Rai – Chiang Mai
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

After breakfast, we’ll visit the magnificent Wat Rong Khun (White Temple) before WanderTours White Temple Thailandleaving Chiang Rai for Chiang Mai (approximately three hours by road).

Along the way, we’ll stop for lunch at Cabbage and Condoms, a wonderful restaurant (with another location in Bangkok) operated by the Population and Community Development Association to assist rural people with AIDS education. We’ll then continue on to Chiang Mai.

You’ll have some time to explore in the afternoon as well as dinner on your own.

Overnight in Chiang Mai at Royal Princess or similar.

Day 10
Monday, April 3, 2017 – Chiang Mai – Laos
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

In the morning, we’ll head to Chiang Mai airport for a short flight to Luang Prabang, Laos!

Upon arrival, we’ll be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel for check-in.

Lunch will be on your own (with plenty of nearby restaurants to choose from) and you’ll have the afternoon free to explore the small downtown of Luang Prabang.

In the evening, you’ll meet back up with the group for the chance to participate in a unique, traditional Lao Buddhist ceremony called Baci. This is performed during important events such as weddings, births or to welcome guests. It’s meant to express good will and luck to others.

After the ceremony, we’ll enjoy authentic Lao cuisine at your hosts’ home and have a chance to get to know these friendly locals.

Overnight in Luang Prabang at Luang Prabang View Hotel or similar.

HIGHLIGHT! The Lao believe that each person has 32 spirits which constitute their spiritual essence. Baci is the ritual used to call back any escaped spirits to the body. During the Baci, special flower trays and food treats are prepared that are then touched by the participants while a Buddhist mantra is chanted. After the chanting, cotton threads are tied around the participants’ wrists while they receive an individual blessing.

Monks Alms Luang PrabangDay 11
Tuesday, April 4, 2017 – Laos
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today, join other early risers to watch monks collecting their alms. Each morning, the monks walk down the street collecting offerings from residents, business owners and even tourists. It’s a lovely time that underscores the importance of Buddhism to the people of Laos. Once the procession is done, we’ll return to the hotel for breakfast.

Afterward, we’ll go to the historical area of Luang Prabang and tour some of the city’s more popular sights. Our first stop is the National Museum, which houses art, artifacts and jewels, and provides an excellent overview of the country and culture. We’ll also visit some of the most important temples including Wat Visoun and Wat Xieng Thong, the most revered temple in Luang Prabang.

We’ll end the morning with a tour of the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre, a museum dedicated to the diversity of Laos’ ethnic minorities. We’ll then have lunch at Le Patio Cafe, the only restaurant in Luang Prabang that serves authentic ethnic cuisine.

In the late afternoon, we’ll go to Tamarind Restaurant for an evening hands-on cooking class held in a scenic outdoor kitchen situated next to a lake. There, we’ll prepare an assortment of dishes with an entertaining chef who will teach us traditional techniques and a bit about Lao culture along the way. The best part is that we’ll get to eat all that we’ve prepared. Printed recipes will be provided.

Overnight in Luang Prabang at Luang Prabang View Hotel or similar.

HIGHLIGHT! Lao cuisine relies heavily on fresh produce and incorporates a range of intriguing flavors, many unfamiliar to the Western palate. You’re sure to enjoy an evening of sampling a wide variety of flavors.

Tamarind Cooking ClassDay 12
Wednesday, April 5, 2017 – Laos
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, we’ll head outside the city to tour Hath Hient Village to see the ancient art of forging iron knives.

We’ll continue to Ban Pickngai, a Yuan ethnic minority community and then to the villages of Ban Na Tan and Ban Kan Bohae, where an Khumu ethnic minority community lives.

After visiting with these hill tribes, we’ll have a picnic lunch near a beautiful Hmong ethnic minority village.

We’ll then have a chance to swim in the Nam Pa River, one of the most scenic rivers in Laos. We’ll drive along the riverbank to Ban Bo Hae, Ban Tha Oui and Ban Kok Muang to visit Hmong villages. We’ll return to Luang Prabang in the afternoon for a rest from the heat.

Then, in the late afternoon, we’ll board a traditional river boat for a leisurely ride up and down the mystical Mekong River. We’ll enjoy comfortable seats and views of the sun Scriptures in Temple Luang Prabangsetting behind the mountains. The boat will moor and we’ll have a dinner of traditional Lao dishes.

Upon returning to town, we may have time to visit the evening hill tribe market where dozens of stalls sell souvenirs, handicrafts and textiles.

Overnight in Luang Prabang at Luang Prabang View Hotel or similar.

HIGHLIGHT! Luang Prabang is a peaceful, provincial city that serves as the spiritual capital of Laos. There is little traffic on the roads and monks in orange robes are common sights throughout the area.

Day 13
Thursday, April 6, 2017 – Laos – Bangkok
Meal: Breakfast

Today we’ll have a leisurely morning before departing for the airport for our flight to Bangkok.

** Itinerary subject to change without notice.


Tour Closed* We’re sorry you missed this tour. Please contact us is you’re interested in being notified for future Thailand and Laos tours or if you’d like to join us for any of our other tours


In-country flights:  
(we book)
Single supplement: 

NOTE: Regional flights are calculated separately as flights may increase closer to departure. The sooner you register, the more likely we can secure the costs as stated above.

Interested in sharing the cost with another fabulous traveler? We do our best to pair up our tour participants so you can avoid the single supplement. However, priority is given to the first deposits received. If you’re interested in sharing, please send in your deposit as soon as possible in order to take advantage of this benefit. (Why a single supplement? See this FAQ page for an explanation.)

Booking and Payment Details

Price includes: 12 nights accommodation in lovely 3 – 4-star hotels, all ground transportation including airport pickup and drop-off, in-country boat rides, sightseeing entrance fees, English-speaking guides, tips for guides and drivers, and 27 meals.

Price does not include: International flights to/from Bangkok, flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang, and Luang Prabang and Bangkok (all flights booked through us but calculated separately), visas, evacuation insurance (highly recommended), some meals, souvenirs, personal purchases (such as books and snacks), beverages.

This trip is limited to 15 women and requires an $800 deposit to secure your spot.

Minimum bookings required: 8 people

Final payment due no later than January 25, 2017.

It’s easy to register…

We love checks as it helps keep our costs down by avoiding pesky credit card fees. If you’re able to pay the deposit or full amount by check or wire transfer, we’ll not only love you more but we’ll send you a free copy of one of Beth’s books (your choice which one).

Here’s our mailing address:

PO Box 16102
Seattle, WA 98116

Of course, you can pay by credit card as well.
Note: cancellation fees apply. Please read our Booking Terms and Conditions before registering.

The fine print

Northern Thailand and Laos Tour 2017 Registration form (PDF)
Northern Thailand and Laos Tour 2017 Itinerary (PDF)

We recommend Insure My Trip for travel and/or evacuation insurance.

For questions, contact Beth at:
beth (at) wandertours (dot) com

Patricia AnderssonTour Leader: Patricia Andersson
Patricia’s love affair with travel began when she donned a backpack and headed to Europe for 3 months after college. Since then, she has traveled to over 35 countries and lived abroad for 6 years. Also a certified Life Coach, Patricia has been leading women’s groups since 1996, and began combining these two interests in 2010 by taking women travelers to unusual international destinations. She has led women’s groups to Africa, Asia, and Latin American, and greatly enjoyed the time she spent in Thailand. She looks forward to meeting you for this fun and interesting journey!

When not traveling, Patricia spends her time in Portland, OR, where she is an avid dancer, gardener, and animal. She is deeply involved in helping to bring positive change to women living in poverty around the world.

Related links:
Thailand and Laos photo gallery
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Elephant Nature Park
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