7D6N in Northern Thailand: How I Spent A Week in Thailand’s Golden Triangle

I still remember exactly how the legendary Golden Triangle, rich in history, shimmered before me as I disembarked the longtail boat. Part of the unbeatable panorama was a verdant tapestry of rice paddies and emerald hills cradling the mighty Mekong River. And over the next seven days, this intoxicating beauty would unravel, transforming this week-long itinerary into an unforgettable adventure in northern Thailand! So, read on to learn how I spent my seven-day adventure in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai and the point where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet.

Also read: Muslim-Friendly Chiang Mai Guide: Halal Eateries & Places to Go for Muslim Travellers

The ultimate 7D6N Muslim-friendly itinerary in northern Thailand

Day 1: Masjid Hidayatul Islam → Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

itinerary northern thailandChiang Mai International Airport | Image credit: Chiang Mai International Airport Official Facebook Page

It was around 5pm when I landed at the Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX). Since it’s still Asr in Chiang Mai, I decided to take a taxi to the very first destination of this seven-day itinerary: Masjid Hidayatul Islam Banhaw! The mosque is among the biggest in the province and is one of the seven Chinese mosques in Chiang Mai. FYI, it cost me around 144 baht (RM19) to get there in a taxi, and the short journey lasted only 15 minutes.

itinerary northern thailandMasjid Hidayatul Islam | Image credit: Masjid Hidayatul Islam Official Facebook Page

The mosque stood tall in its tranquil green and white exterior, bathed with streaks of orange rays from the almost setting sun. Luckily, I managed to finish my Asr prayer in time before the Maghrib adhan echoed five minutes later. Some insights on the interior: the praying areas for men and women are separated, and both are spacious enough to accommodate Muslim travellers who wish to pray comfortably in Chiang Mai.

Also, the mosque is said to be a one-stop centre for the Muslim community living in the area, and I can see why. I mean you can find plenty of halal eateries around the mosque and the holy institution is actively running various Islamic-related lectures and activities for the community. Did I mention that the mosque is only a three-minute walk to the bustling Chiang Mai Night Bazaar? That’s right, and here comes the second stop on my exciting adventure!

itinerary northern thailandChiang Mai Night Bazaar | Image credit: Thailand Tourism Official Website

To my fellow bargain hunters, Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is a good place to put your bargaining skills to the test. The night market sells almost everything under the sun, from jewellery and silver antiques to games and furniture. Plus, you can find many food stalls selling local delicacies in case your stomach’s rumbling for something tasty.

If you go further to the bottom end of the night bazaar, you’ll find Anusan Market—a foodie haven for those who are into Thai, Asian, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisines. I had my dinner at Gulf Restaurant, a Muslim-owned eatery famous for its Saudi and Lebanese dishes, and I didn’t regret it one bit. Their chicken biryani and kebab were the best things I had the entire night! Both meals and a glass of iced tea cost me around 450 baht (RM58.90) in total, definitely worth the price.

Day 2: Wat Chedi Luang → Mae Ping River → Tweechol Botanical Garden

itinerary northern thailandWat Chedi Luang | Image credit: Andrey Khrobostov via Canva Pro

After a light breakfast at the hotel, I kicked off my second day in Chiang Mai by visiting Wat Chedi Luang, a historic Buddhist temple complex that lets you immerse yourself in a captivating blend of the past and present! Though the namesake chedi (pagoda), which is also the star of the show, was partially damaged by an earthquake centuries ago, its remaining height and grandeur are still awe-inspiring.

I had fun exploring the sprawling grounds, which featured intricate carvings, beautiful statues, and a serene atmosphere. What’s more, I even stumbled upon a majestic Buddha statue in the main prayer hall. BTW, don’t miss the chance to witness monks in their daily rituals, or you can also participate in a daily monk chat for unique cultural experiences. Before I forget, the fee to enter this ancient temple complex is around 40 baht (RM5.25) for adults and 20 baht (RM2.63) for children.

itinerary northern thailandMae Ping River | Image credit: Mae Ping River Cruise Official Website

After an immersive time at the temple, I took a 20-minute journey by bus to Wat Chai Mongkhon for the much-awaited river cruise along the peaceful Mae Ping River! This was one of my favourite moments from the whole trip. I got to see locals fishing from the banks, children playing in the cool water, and traditional wooden houses lining the shores.

One of the pit stops was the "Thai Farmer's House," where I learned about the region's agricultural practices and saw crops like jasmine rice and herbs being cultivated. The cruise was more worthwhile because they served us fresh seasonal fruits and herb juice during the excursion. To those wondering, the two-hour trip costs around 550 baht (RM72.23) per person.

itinerary northern thailandTakawa Halal Cuisine Restaurant | Image credit: Takawa Halal Cuisine Official Facebook Page

Where to head for lunch, you asked. Takawa Halal Cuisine is the ideal answer! I took a 26-minute bus ride from Wat Chai Mongkhon to reach the restaurant. You can try ordering their tasty grilled salmon steak and spaghetti fish salt for the best experience. As the cherry on top, their sweet tab tim grob is a must. Psst, the place also provides a nice prayer room for Muslim travellers! So, fret not about where to pray after you’ve had your best meals.

itinerary northern thailandTweechol Botanical Garden | Image credit: Tweechol Botanical Garden Official Website

Next stop — Tweechol Botanical Garden, a paradise of diverse flora and fauna, located just half an hour's drive from Takawa Halal Cuisine! FYI, the admission fee for adults wishing to visit this garden is 100 baht (RM13.10). Here is where you get to witness a staggering collection of over 1,000 plant species grow side by side in a verdant botanical garden. From vibrant flowers and towering trees to unique cacti and topiary creations shaped like animals, you’ll be sure to fall for them almost instantly.

I figured watching the wonders on foot was too mainstream, so I rented a bike for a fun ride around the garden at only 75 baht (RM9.81) for up to three hours. Another highlight to not miss when visiting this place is its delightful petting zoo. I definitely had the best time of my life getting up close to friendly animals like camels, ostriches, and deer, which made me wish I could stay longer!

Before I wrapped up my second day in Chiang Mai, I had a hearty homemade pad thai at Sofia Restaurant, only an 18-minute drive from the garden. And you should do that too!

Day 3: Elephant Nature Park → Nong Buak Haad Public Park → Darun Aman Mosque → Chiang Rai Night Bazaar

itinerary northern thailandElephant Nature Park | Image credit: Elephant Nature Park Official Facebook Page

Visiting northern Thailand without spending time with the friendly giants feels incomplete. I just had to bring myself to Elephant Nature Park (ENP), a highly-regarded sanctuary for rescued elephants. Here, you'll see elephants roaming freely, bathing in mud pools, and socialising with their herds. You can observe elephants up close, but there's no riding or interacting with them in a way that could be stressful.

I took the half-day morning session program for 2,500 baht (RM329.00), and the visit lasted three hours. By visiting, you directly contribute to the care and well-being of these amazing creatures. Plus, the park provides multiple vegan meal options to fill up your tummy during the worthwhile tour!

itinerary northern thailandNong Buak Haad Public Park | Image credit (L-R): Amphawan Chanunpha via Canva Pro; wisan224 via Canva Pro

Since the pleasant Nong Buak Haad Public Park is within walking distance from the elephant sanctuary, I recommend you drop by this scenic park for some me-time accompanied by the lovely flowers and graceful fountains here. Luckily, I brought a mat when I came here, so I spent almost an hour picnicking by the lake and people-watching to my heart’s content. Did I mention there’s no admission fee to enter this park? Coolsies!

And then came the time to extend my journey beyond Chiang Mai; yup, Chiang Rai, here I come! I took a bus from Chiang Mai, and the trip lasted for almost four hours — just enough time to take in the views of the beautiful province and take a few rounds of much-needed naps before the next adventure.

itinerary northern thailandDarun Aman Mosque | Image credit (L-R): Karin de Mamiel via Canva Pro; Iceway12 | Wikimedia Commons

Since I had already experienced praying in Chiang Mai’s mosque, I made it a must for me to visit at least one mosque in Chiang Rai, too. And so I went to Darun Aman Mosque, the biggest one in the province. I learned that the mosque was built by the Hui people, known as Chin Haw by the locals. The mosque’s architecture is something I truly admire. It’s a blend of Chinese and Islamic design with a bit of Persian touch.

Afterwards, I had my early dinner at Rosprasert Muslim Food, and it was in fact the best choice I made. The restaurant is beside the mosque and serves tasty halal Thai-style biryani and buffet dishes. I tried their beef khao soi for 50 baht (RM6.54), and it tasted great! Another signature dish to try if you have the chance to visit this restaurant is their oxtail soup.

itinerary northern thailandChiang Rai Night Bazaar | Image credit: Andrey Khrobostov via Canva Pro; scottiebumich via Canva Pro

FYI, Darun Aman Mosque is only a 13-minute walking distance to Chiang Rai Night Bazaar. So, after Isha prayer, I decided to wander through the maze of stalls selling colourful fabrics, handcrafted goods, and delicious street food. Speaking of food, do try out their mango sticky rice, you won’t be disappointed!

As I browsed through the goods, I also came across unique souvenirs. Some of them include hand-painted silk scarves, intricate silver jewellery, hand-carved wooden sculptures, and colourful hill tribe textiles. Also, there was a cultural performance held at that time, and I could clearly see traditional Thai dancers in elaborate costumes dancing gracefully to the sound of unique musical instruments.

And that’s pretty much how my third day in northern Thailand went. Keep on reading to find out some of the prettiest gems I encountered during my visit here!

Day 4: Wat Rong Khun → Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park → Singha Park

itinerary northern thailandWat Rong Khun | Image credit: Fokke Baarssen via Canva Pro

Tell people you've been to Chiang Rai without telling them you've been there — a picture of you against the breathtaking Wat Rong Khun! I woke up early just to make sure I'd be among the first to catch a clean shot of the White Temple in the morning mist. Unlike traditional Thai temples, Wat Rong Khun features a dazzling white exterior adorned with intricate reflective mosaics. This creates a mesmerising spectacle, especially when sunlight glistens off the mirrored surfaces.

I can still vividly remember the time I crossed the bridge guarded by demon figures—hands down, one of the most magical moments I had in Chiang Rai! To visit this wonderful site, you only need to pay 100 baht (RM13.10) for the entrance fee. It's totally worth it.

itinerary northern thailandMae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park | Image credit (L-R): Andrey Khrobostov via Canva Pro; Thailand Tourism Official Website

As if the dazzling sights of the White Temple were not enough, Chiang Rai continued to dazzle me with yet another enchanting sight from Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park. This bucolic park features stunning landscaped gardens, museums, and a traditional Lanna pavilion. The park serves as a tribute to the life and works of Princess Srinagarindra, who was instrumental in promoting the development of the hill tribes of northern Thailand.

Strolling through the rolling hills filled with blooming flowers sounds like a fairytale, but you can do just that at the park’s garden. But what I loved the most was when I visited the Haw Kham, a golden pavilion built from the remains of 32 wooden houses. The place features various ancient Lanna teak artefacts and is surrounded by a scenic lotus pond. Truly a sight to behold! BTW, the admission fee to this historical park is 200 baht (RM26.18) for an adult.

The nearest halal eatery I could find for lunch was Sareeneen Food & Sweet Restaurant, just a six-minute drive from the Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park. They serve authentic Thai dishes in large portions, and the service was pretty quick, too. I had a taste of their fried rice with crab meat for 80 baht (RM10.47), and it was yummy! Pad thais and khao sois are also among the popular dishes there, so you might want to give them a try.

itinerary northern thailandSingha Park | Image credit: Singha Park Chiang Rai Official Instagram Page

To continue my quest in exploring the pretty side of Chiang Rai, I brought myself to Singha Park, famed for its sprawling tea plantations. You can take a scenic tram ride or bike through the verdant fields, learn about the tea-making process at the on-site factory, and even enjoy a cup of freshly brewed Singha tea!

Adventure seekers can also try their ziplining activities for 300 baht (RM39.29) where you can take in the 360-degree view of Doi Chang. As for me, I rented an electric scooter for the same price and enjoyed riding around the straight-out-of-movie park as if I was the main character of a beautiful Thai film.

Roti Pa Yai Restaurant | Image credit: Roti Pa Yai Official Facebook Page

For early dinner, I decided to hunt for some good pastry-related meals as I was craving for roti canai at the time. And my craving brought me to Roti Pa Yai, another worthy halal restaurant you should check out in Chiang Rai. FYI, this place is within a 15-minute drive from Singha Park and only a nine-minute drive to Darun Aman Mosque. I ordered their Roti Tray for 100 baht (RM13.02) and it’s safe to say that my craving was fully satisfied. What a way to wrap my fourth day in northern Thailand!

Day 5: Golden Triangle (Mekong River Boat Trip → Opium House) → Mae Kachan Hot spring

golden triangleGolden Triangle & Mekong Boat Ride | Image credit: huafires via Canva Pro; Torjrtrx via Canva Pro

The most awaited day of the trip arrived! If Landon from A Walk to Remember got to be in two places at once, I could flip my shawl and proudly tell people I’ve been to three countries at once. This was made possible due to the existence of the Golden Triangle: a scenic area where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar converge at the meeting point of the Mekong and Ruak Rivers.

My fifth day kicked off with a boat ride along the peaceful Mekong River. As the boat traversed the river, I sailed right along the borders of three nations. This provides a glimpse into the cultural diversity of the region. You might see traditional villages on the shores of Laos or Myanmar or encounter boats carrying goods between the countries.

Other beautiful sights I encountered included fishermen casting their nets and children playing on the banks. These, paired with the cool breeze and tranquil atmosphere during the morning ride — bewitching!

house of opiumThe House of Opium (Museum) | Image credit: Andrey Khrobostov via Canva Pro

Afterwards, I made my way to the House of Opium for 50 baht (RM6.53), which offers a glimpse into the Golden Triangle's opium history, showcasing the cultivation, processing, and trade routes of the drug. The museum displays various tools and equipment used in opium production, providing a tangible connection to the past. You might also see everyday objects used for opium consumption.

Just to clarify, the museum doesn't glorify the opium trade. In fact, it sheds light on the negative consequences it had on people's health and lives, as well as the wider social issues it caused. Definitely an insightful visit worth adding to your itinerary when going to the Golden Triangle! I spent almost an hour at this museum before making my way back to Chiang Mai.

mae kachan hot springBoiling eggs at Mae Kachan Hot Spring | Image credit: Tuayai via Canva Pro

On my way back, I made a short stop at a scenic gem called Mae Kachan Hot Spring. It's a good place to dip in the hot springs or soak your feet in the cooler pools to unwind after a long day of exploring. For a fun and truly unique experience, I recommend buying a basket of eggs for you to cook them in the naturally boiling hot spring water. It's a great way to try a local way of enjoying the hot springs! Did I mention this hot spring is free to enter? All the more reason to add this to your Chiang Rai ⇄ Chiang Mai itinerary.

ruammit1 halal restaurantRuammit Halal Restaurant | Image credit: Ruammit Halal Restaurant Official Facebook Page

Guess where I had my dinner on the fifth day? It’s Ruammit Halal Restaurant in Chiang Mai! The halal restaurant specialises in Thai and Chinese Yunnan dishes. I tried their Thai Fish with Thai Hurb and Rosella Juice, and both met my expectations. The total price of the meal was around 370 baht (RM48.98). Psst, if you need to pray, the eatery provides a private prayer room special for Muslim patrons coming to their restaurant! Talk about another great place to wrap up yet another amazing day in northern Thailand.

Day 6: Royal Park Ratchaphruek → Bo Sang Umbrella Village → Central Festival Mall

royal flora ratchaphruekRoyal Flora Ratchaphruek Chapel | Image credit: icon0.com via Canva Pro

No visit to Chiang Mai is complete without exploring the verdant Royal Park Ratchaphruek! The gardens boast a vast collection of flowers, including Thailand's national flower, the Ratchaphruek (Golden Shower Tree). This means, depending on the season you visit, you'll be greeted by a vibrant tapestry of colours and fragrances. I had a fun time getting on a leisurely tour around the impressive sea of flowers on an electric tram for only 20 baht (RM2.67).

Beyond the flowers, the gardens also incorporate beautiful Lanna architecture, the traditional style of Northern Thailand. The majestic Ho Kham Royal Pavilion is a prime example, with its high ceilings and tiered roofs. So, don't forget to get those #OOTDs every chance you get! BTW, the latest admission fee to enter this royal garden was 100 baht (RM13.02) for an adult.

valley coffee lanna resortValley Coffee by Lanna Resort| Image credit: Valley Coffee Official Facebook Page

For a much-needed coffee break or afternoon tea, you can head to Valley Coffee by Lanna Resort, just a 15-minute drive from the royal garden. This laid-back cafe by the stream offers various coffee drinks and light meals against a lush landscape of trees and flowers. I enjoyed my short break here with a cup of latte while listening to the cascading waterfall nearby.

bo snag umbrella villageBo Sang Umbrella Village | Image credit: superb photo via Canva Pro; NuwatPhoto via Canva Pro

My next stop was Bo Sang Cultural Village, nestled in the culturally rich San Kamphaeng district. This traditional village is famous for its handmade paper umbrellas and parasols. FYI, the craft has been passed down through generations for over 200 years! I enjoyed observing the entire umbrella-making process, from selecting and preparing the bamboo to shaping the frame, attaching the fabric, and finally, the intricate hand-painting designs.

Purchasing an umbrella here equals supporting the local artisans who keep this tradition alive. So, I got one for myself for 200 baht (RM26.34), and I love every bit of it. I also saw another tourist asking one of the umbrella makers if he could paint something on her phone case, and he happily did that for 100 baht (RM13.02)! Plus, there are many umbrella-making workshops that you can join for affordable prices, and you should definitely do that.

central festival mallCentral Festival Mall | Image credit: Central Chiang Mai Official Facebook Page

My final stop before the day ended was Central Festival Mall, the lifestyle hub of the North. This one-stop centre for shopping, dining, and entertainment in Chiang Mai is a great place to experience the city's modern side.

The place boasts over 250 stores, so whether you're seeking for luxury brands, local boutiques, or everyday essentials, you're sure to find it here! I initially visited the mall to beat the heat but came out with my hands full of shopping bags. Hey, you can’t blame me.

Also, foodies looking to satisfy their cravings should definitely come here. You can easily find bustling food courts featuring delicious Thai cuisine and international restaurants, and you can even grab a refreshing drink or indulge in a sweet treat at one of the many cafes.

P.S. — There’s also a designated prayer room inside the mall!

Day 7: Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX) → Home sweet home

taxi chiang maiTaxi in Chiang Mai | Image credit: primeimages via Canva Pro

After a light breakfast at the hotel, I took a taxi for 120 baht to Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX), and the journey took me around seven to ten minutes. I opted for the taxi since I had to carry multiple luggage plus an extra bag for the souvenirs I purchased during the trip. You can also ride a bus for 20 to 30 baht (RM2.63 to RM3.94) if you don’t bring much stuff and prefer a cheaper option.

Also read: 11 Top Things to Do in Koh Samui for Different Types of Muslim Travellers

And that’s pretty much how I spent my week-long holidays in Thailand’s Golden Triangle. Overall, it was an immersion into the heart and soul of Northern Thailand, a tapestry woven with vibrant culture, breathtaking landscapes, and the lingering magic of the Golden Triangle. With a head full of memories and a heart brimming with newfound wonder, I departed, already planning my return to this captivating corner of Southeast Asia!

Brought to you by Tourism Authority of Thailand

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