28 In Thailand/ Travel

Exploring Chiang Rai, The Golden Triangle + More with Blugecko Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is the perfect hub to take day trips throughout Northern Thailand and there’s something for everyone. Luckily, there are travel agencies out there to help you find the right tour for you. We partnered with Blugecko Chiang Mai to take a jam-packed day tour throughout Northern Thailand.

Mae Kha Jan Hot Springs


Our first big stop on the tour was the White Temple, but they strategically planned a bathroom stop at the Mae Kha Jan Hot Springs. It’s the perfect location because you get to see something, go to the restroom AND there’s a beloved 7-eleven there where you can grab a couple snacks if needed. I’ve now been to a good handful of several natural hot springs but this was the most unique for two reasons. One, they’ve been really built up including a manmade geyser installed [pictured left]. Two, the tourism opportunity here is to boil eggs in the hot spring. So interesting!

The White Temple in Chiang Rai

We arrived at the White Temple in late morning, so it was very crowded already. However, it was still easy to take in its amazing beauty. This temple was created and funded by one man: Chalermchai Kositpipat. It stands on the site of an old temple that had fallen into disrepair. He opened Wat Rong Khun (a.k.a. The White Temple) to the public 20 years ago.


Right Photo: These hands represent the temptations of unrestrained desire. The temptations that keep you in the cycle of rebirth instead of reaching enlightenment.


These trees contain metal leaves that people write their wishes + prayers on. Then they attach them, There are multiple of these trees. I loved seeing them shimmer and hearing them chime in the wind. So amazing.

Karen Long Neck Hill Tribe

Most tours include a trip to one of the Hill tribes. We chose a tour that included the Long Neck Hill Tribe because it seemed most unique.

You get to meet the women of the tribe that actually originated in Myanmar. This stop is decently short stop, but honestly all the time you need. The women work on their handicrafts and you can explore the shops while talking to these sweet women.

These stalls contain the shops + locals.

Matt really enjoyed seeing this man play his homemade guitar + sing. He was really talented.

blugecko Chiang Mai    

This little cutie stole my heart.

The Golden Triangle

After stopping at a buffet lunch, we made our way up to the Golden Triangle. This is where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar all meet! This tour has an optional boat trip to Laos available, but we opted out of that to explore the area since we were heading to Laos soon after anyway.

Left: Matt + I stopped in at the Opium Museum – this used to be an opium hotspot // Right: The Large Standing Buddha at Wat Prahat Pukhao that overlooks The Golden Triangle 

blugecko Chiang Mai

The tour typically includes a trip to a border market, but our guide told us that the market was filled with the same trinkets that are available at the Night Bazaar back in Chiang Mai. So, instead, she took us to Wat Prahat Pukhao to get an amazing view.

blugecko Chiang Mai  

Review of the Tour:

If I could change anything about the tour it would be the transportation. The minivan was pretty basic, which is fine, but my seat unfortunately didn’t have a working seatbelt, so I had to tie it around my waist instead. Also, I know that the driver was absolutely going over the speed limit (because we were watching the speedometer) on some pretty intense mountain roads which only made the lack of seatbelt worse.  The tour guide did offer to switch seats with me on the ride home because she needed to be up front for the ride there, but I didn’t feel comfortable denying her a seatbelt on the way home. That being said, I would still recommend the tour.

Our guide was informative and very sweet. She kept everything going smoothly. I really loved that this tour was a bit like organized free time. Our tour guide gave us information on each stop in transit. Because of this, I felt like I could do things at my pace while having the benefit of transportation, information and planning taken care of for me. I also loved that they weren’t afraid to alter the tour a smidge to be sure that we had the best experience possible. I also loved that they picked you up and dropped you off at your hotel, which made the day so simple. They even offered to take us to the night bazaar in Chiang Mai instead of our hotel. I also feel that the value of the tour was great, especially considering we were with them for 14 hours of awesome sightseeing.

Review of Blugecko Chiang Mai:

Blugecko’s website is unbelievably easy to use. You can select how long you want your tour to be and go from there. There are so many amazing options that you can be sure to find something you’ll enjoy. Plus, each tour on the website has a detailed itinerary and lets you know everything from wardrobe suggestions to activity level. Communication with them was straightforward and easy. Everyone I came into contact with through this company was very friendly. I felt like I was well taken care of with this travel agency and would recommend Blugecko for an affordable tour out of Chiang Mai.

Disclaimer: Although I took this tour courtesy of Blugecko, all opinions, as always, are my own. 

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  • Reply
    October 14, 2017 at 7:41 am

    I love this part of Thailand. I did a similar tour a while ago, but seemed to have missed the opium museum. Your comment about the speed is interesting ….. I think there is one speed and that is about as fast as you want to go!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      October 16, 2017 at 8:59 am

      I know what you mean about that one speed. I hate it though, especially since I get motion sickness really easily.

  • Reply
    Fiona Maclean
    October 14, 2017 at 9:24 am

    The white temple looks amazing. I remember the long neck tribe from my dad’s National Geographic magazines in the 1970s – they are still as fascinating now as they were then!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      October 16, 2017 at 9:05 am

      I remember seeing the copies of that magazine as well in an anthropology class of mine. I wish I could’ve seen them back the before it was this touristy, but it was still really cool, though!

  • Reply
    October 14, 2017 at 10:16 am

    The White Temple is gorgeous! So interesting that the hands represent unrestrained passions. Good lesson for all of us,I guess! It looks like you had an amazing adventure in Chiang Mai!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      October 16, 2017 at 9:07 am

      I thought it was interesting as well! I love learning more detailed symbolism behind things. I think it gives a much better understanding.

  • Reply
    Sreekar Harinatha
    October 14, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Always wanted to check out the White Temple in Chiang Rai. Somehow couldnt fit it in. May be next time. Cant keep missing it!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      October 16, 2017 at 9:09 am

      I missed it my first time in Thailand as well! I’d recommend going earlier in the morning before the tour buses get there!

  • Reply
    Kavita Favelle | Kavey Eats
    October 14, 2017 at 11:43 am

    We are heading to Thailand in a couple of months time and will be spending some time in the North, so am saving your post for the tips, the tour looks great (with the exception of that minibus!) Those metal prayer leaf “trees” are amazing!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      October 16, 2017 at 9:37 am

      You’ll just have the best time! I loved Northern Thailand. Kanchanaburi is my favorite place in Thailand so far, though! I loved those leaf “trees” too. They’re just so beautiful!

  • Reply
    Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie
    October 14, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    I loved Chiang Mai and the surrounding area. So much to do and such a great change of pace after Bangkok. I love tours that offer time to explore. It’s like th best of both worlds. You have a guide so you don’t have to worry about the logistics and all the details but you can also have your own time. The White Temple is just stunning!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      October 16, 2017 at 9:52 am

      It is a very nice change of pace indeed! I totally understand why so many digital nomads live there. I agree that tours like that are the best of both worlds.

  • Reply
    Jenn and Ed Coleman
    October 14, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    Blugecko Chiang Mai seems like the set up a really interesting trip for you. I think you would be remiss if you went to Chiang Mai and didn’t venture north to the Golden Triangle or Chiang Rai. There is so much history in the region, about a thousand years more than Bangkok.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      October 16, 2017 at 9:54 am

      It’s so true. The area is one I totally fell in love with! I already can’t wait to go back!

  • Reply
    October 15, 2017 at 1:40 am

    Personally, I prefer Chiang Rai over Chiang Mai because CM is starting to become like Bangkok now, imho. Anyway, I also loved the Golden Triangle and the little neat spots around it. We rented a motorbike to go around and was able to stop by at Chiang Khan’s outdoor market by the river which was really cool. The tour is a good idea especially if one is pressed for time, thank you for the recommendation 🙂

  • Reply
    October 15, 2017 at 8:11 am

    I loved my tour of Chiang Rai earlier this year, although we skipped the Karen village. I was teaching Burmese students at the time, and felt I could skip them. I hope you got to see the Black House and Blue Temple too. And tried the tea at one of the Chinese plantations.

  • Reply
    October 15, 2017 at 8:26 am

    One of my biggest regrets of my time traveling through Thailand was that I ran out of time but the time I got up to Chang Mai ad wasn’t able to get out to Chang Rai, I would have loved to see the white temple and spend a day around the markets. I had heard so many good things about it, and most people I met had actually had a better time in Chang Rai than in Chang Mai. Oh Well somewhere for me to go next time I’m in Thailand 😀 – I will definitely be referencing this post about it.

  • Reply
    Prasad Np
    October 15, 2017 at 11:08 am

    I have been to Thailand a few times, but never to Chiang Rai. I must say this is a very unique part of Thailand, and everything including the temples, landscape and the way people are dressed is very different. A sure addition to my wishlist for the next visit…..

  • Reply
    October 15, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    I definitely didn’t see enough of Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle when I was there. Appreciate your pics and reviews of the tour company you used. I hope the women in the Karen Village aren’t exploited as they are in many areas of Myanmar -from the sounds of it was educational, and did tours benefit them directly?

  • Reply
    Jim Jones
    October 15, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    I loved this post, especially the story and photos of the White Temple. Beautiful photos throughout the whole post!

  • Reply
    October 15, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    This is a trip a would love to take l, but with a seat belt! I have not been to see the white temple and I keep seeing it on Instagram & the more I see it more I would love to see the incredible detail. Your photos are fantastic!

  • Reply
    October 16, 2017 at 4:00 am

    Chiang Mai eluded me during my last visit to Thailand. The white temple is so serene and enigmatic!
    Golden Triangle is however new to me. I wasn’t aware of the details. Scary reading about the driver going over speed. Glad you enjoyed in totality. 🙂

  • Reply
    October 16, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    I’ve been to the Mae Kha Jan Hot Springs! I just didn’t remember the name, so thanks for that. I loved the Golden Triangle, though the tourist centre is pretty chaotic. What I loved is going up there and staying in a resort, there are a couple of beauties tucked away in the forest and it’s as if you’re in the middle of nowhere. If you only have one day, however, a tour is the way to go.

  • Reply
    Meg Jerrard
    October 16, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    I love setting myself up in a base for further exploration into the surrounds – really appreciating being able to take day trips now from one point, like Chiang Mai. The White Temple in Chiang Rai is on my list for when I get to Thailand – it’s such a stunning structure! Genuinely looks like something you would imagine! And what an incredible opportunity to visit the Long Neck Hill Tribe. I’ve seen photographs of this tribe in magazines like National Geographic etc, and would love to visit them in person.

    I actually had no idea that you could go to the point where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar – definitely something I would do! Blugecko Chiang Mai sound great – speeding drivers aside (I find that everywhere I go honestly!!) I would definitely book a tour like you. Thanks!

  • Reply
    October 17, 2017 at 6:09 am

    I’m going back to Thailand early next year and this time I am definitely going to include Chiang Rai in my itinerary. I’m particularly interested in the Long Neck Hill tribe and the White Temple! Your pictures are incredible, by the way! I also love your review on this organized tour. DIY travel is nice but sometimes I also love having things pre-arranged so that I won’t have to worry about the little details and I’d have more time for other stuff.

  • Reply
    October 17, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    Everything I want to see. Glad you got to experience all of this. I would love to see the White Temple in person.

  • Reply
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