With such picturesque beauty close at hand it’s no wonder that trekking tops the list of popular things to do in Chiang Mai. The many trails of Doi Inthanon are very popular places to explore on your own. Doi Suthep also has some great hikes, especially at the annex a little ways north, which is never crowded. Nature trails in the national parks are well marked and easy to follow. Ranger stations nearby can provide maps and guides if you wish. If you want to get a little farther away from civilization you’ll need a guide to show you the way. Finding the right guide can make or break your enjoyment of your trek.
An overnight stay at a hilltribe village is an incredibly rewarding experience. It’s a chance to really experience a unique way of life that has persisted in isolation for centuries. Hilltribes prefer to keep to themselves, far away from the wheels of progress. Of course, this isolationism begs the question “Why do they let tourists stay with them?” The answer, sadly, is money. Life for most hilltribes is desperately poor. Their lack of sophistication, while charming, means that their lives are a daily struggle for survival. Try and remember that while staying at their village and do a little to help these marginalized peoples.
When trekking you will need a good pair of hiking boots, a backpack or day pack, plenty of bug repellent and some sort of light jacket. Toilet paper is also a necessity. The best time to go trekking in Chiang Mai is from November to March when the greenery is spectacular but the weather is clear. From June to September rain is almost a guarantee.