Providing a stark contrast to the concrete jungle of Bangkok and the azure seascape of the southern islands, Northern Thailand is characterized by forest-blanketed mountains, lush valleys, and misty waterfalls. The Rose of the North, as Chiang Mai is known, is the country's second largest city, but has managed to retain her small town charm, speckled with boutique luxury resorts and a bohemian chic coffee culture. Taking the pace of life notch down a peg further, Chiang Rai is home to hilltribe villages and a bounty of trekking opportunities.
Chiang Mai Old Town is small enough to discover on foot, but a car is the ideal way to venture out and explore the natural treasures tucked away in the surrounding hills. Similarly, day trips and treks abound in Chiang Rai, with vibrant night markets offering a snapshot of the kaleidoscopic handicrafts produced in the region. Visitors familiar with the best luxury hotels in Asia will feel right at home in the region's five-star brick-and-mortar and tented resorts.
Chiang Mai offers direct connections with a few domestic and regional cities including Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, and Taipei. Chiang Rai is a three hour drive away or just over an hour's flight from Bangkok. Do yourself a favor and escape the frenetic atmosphere of the more developed tourist destinations, and before you know it, you'll find yourself slowing down and smelling the roses (of the north).