For all those who wish to discover a more secret Thailand, far from the frenzy of Bangkok and the dream beaches of Phuket, it is recommended to go and stay in the north of the country. The hikes then lead in the middle of rice fields, in green forests where waterfalls appear, on the edge of mountains and in small authentic villages. From the charming regional capital, Chiang Mai, you can head for the surrounding area to be charmed by the natural parks, preserved areas and the unmissable temples, some of the most beautiful in the country. Here are the must-see places in Northern Thailand, a territory where it is good to be in the green

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Discovery of the temples of the historic centre of Chiang Mai

As the birthplace of Buddhism, Chiang Mai is home to some superb temples. It is a paradise for lovers of ancient monuments. Among these buildings, some stand out by their history and their particular architecture. Wat Phra Singh is one of the most important temples of Chiang Mai. Its construction dates back to 1345 and it is a perfect symbol of the architecture and art of the Lana. The place gathers in fact various buildings, thus some reveal the talent of the local cabinetmakers. Also not to be missed inside are the murals that tell the story of the life of the inhabitants of the time. Not far from the royal palace is another splendid temple: the Wat Chedi Luang. Its construction began in 1391 and despite its partial destruction by violent earthquakes, it remains 60 m high and has many resplendent elements such as the Intakin (the pillar of the city) and the main wiharn that houses the image of Buddha

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Strolling through the markets of Chiang Mai

There are many markets in Chiang Mai where it is pleasant to stroll around and soak up the atmosphere. During the week, it is possible to visit the huge market on the Chang Khlan Road or the Anusarn Night Market, which usually start in the afternoon and end quite late when the sun sets. The must-see is the Walking Street market, which takes place on Sunday evenings in the old town and where you can find everything from handicrafts, a festival of colours and of course the unmissable street food to test the succulent and fragrant local flavours

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Go see the Doi Suthep temple

Named after the peak on which it was built, the Doi Suthep is a splendid temple not to be missed about 15 km from downtown Chiang Mai. It is accessed by climbing more than 300 steps lined with two ramps that take the shape of dragon-headed snakes. Once at the top, you will be amazed by the statue of the legendary white elephant and by the many small sanctuaries. The most impressive of these is the Chedi, a 24-metre high sanctuary in the centre of the courtyard, entirely plated with gold. Beyond the beauty of the place, the presence of an emerald Buddha, pagodas and statues, one must also take advantage of the sublime panorama that is offered over the entire province of Chiang Mai

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A hike in Doi Inthanon National Park

Located about 70 kilometres from Chiang Mai, Inthanon National Park is home to Thailand's highest peak at 2,565 metres. It is here that one discovers landscapes of great beauty and that one takes paths that lead to impressive waterfalls and in small authentic villages. The King's and Queen's Twin Pagodas with their sumptuous gardens and hiking trails offer breathtaking views of the landscape and greenery. In this park, which is the roof of Thailand, one also has the possibility of crossing certain mammals and the ornithologists in the soul find a true paradise there, with the presence of 362 species of birds

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A day at Kanjana Elephant Sanctuary

A stay in Thailand is a great opportunity to meet elephants. And for this to be done with total respect for the life of the animal, it is recommended to visit Kanjana Elephant Sanctuary. Visitors can thus spend a wonderful day in a natural environment where the animals live peacefully and are pampered by professional teams. The visitor develops a complicity with the elephants, feeds them, cuddles them before taking them to the riverside and accompanies them in their bathing moments

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A moment at Bai Orchid & Butterfly Farm

La Bai Orchid and Butterfly & Farm is a place to enjoy a thousand colours. Here you can spend a moment in harmony with the orchids, which are planted in pleasant little plots or are carefully hung in alleys where you can stroll for hours. Afterwards, we visit the butterfly aviary, where various species fly and land on the foliage. The size of some butterflies is simply impressive! After passing through a pretty garden, a shop offers souvenirs with products (earrings, brooches...) always in homage to the orchids and butterflies that populate this lovely haven of peace

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An expedition to the White Temple of Chiang Rai

This is one of the most spectacular temples in Northern Thailand. A temple with a facade, bridges, statues and ornamentation of a glittering white, which represents the purity of Buddha. It is the work of contemporary Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, who built it in homage to King Rama IX and his hometown, Chiang Rai. Although the site was damaged by an earthquake in 2014, the artist was able to restore it and is still working on it. The elements that catch the eye are the bridge where the frozen hands that seem to represent temptation spout out from underneath, the interior of the temple where one should not be surprised to see next to an image of Buddha, those of Western idols such as Michael Jackson or Hello Kitty, and finally a golden building that is none other than... the toilets.

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Encounter with the mountain tribes

A trip to the north of Thailand allows to meet the ethnic groups living in the mountains. It is in the middle of the forests of the regions of Chiang Maï, Mae Hong Son or Chiang Rai that they respect their ancestral traditions, speak their own language and have their own social organization. They come from other countries such as China, Laos or Burma and are attached to their culture, no doubt because of their isolation for a very long time. Among them is the Padaung tribe, where women with long necks wear a succession of ornaments. The Hmong, who settled in the territory in the 19th century, are distinguished in particular by their colourful and richly ornamented clothing

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Discover the Golden Triangle

This mountainous area is on the borders of three countries: Laos, Burma and Thailand. In Thailand, venturing into the Golden Triangle territory allows you to cross wooded valleys and hilly areas where large tea plantations take place. We also go to the foot of sumptuous temples and make gourmet stops in charming villages such as Mae Salong and Chiang Saen, a village bordered by the Mekong River and where there are beautiful ruins. And then from Chiang Saen to Sop Ruak, don't miss the chance to land in the heart of the Golden Triangle, for the unique sensation of seeing Laos on the right and Myanmar on the left

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