18th May 2024 - 25th May 2024
8 days/Thailand /Moderate
Take to the handlebar and travel across northern Thailand like the locals – in your very own tuk tuk!
After some initial tuk tuk driver training you embark on our three-wheeled discovery of this colourful country. This 8-day challenge takes in temples, forests, traditional minority villages in the hills, national parks and waterfalls as you ride from the awe-inspiring Chiang Mai.
This adventure features the very best that Thailand has to offer for those prepared to step away from tourist trails and travel like the locals. It isn’t just fantastic sights that you’ll enjoy along the way, but also wonderful experiences – rafting downstream on bamboo rafts, exploring caves, picnic lunch by a waterfall, camping in the mountains and enjoying traditional feasts.
This isn’t just dipping a toe in the water, it’s total immersion in the wonderful and exciting culture of this South-East Asian gem.
In addition to your Different Travel Tour Manager who will be accompanying the trip throughout, there will be a local English-speaking guide who will lead you through this fantastic journey. There will also be a mechanic to assist with any tuk tuk related issues along the way.
You can expect highs of 34˚C during the day, dropping down to 24˚C at night. Weather conditions vary and may be unpredictable but in general you can expect hot, cloudy days with a chance of rain and moderate humidity. Although, for the majority of the time, you will be in the tuk tuks, as they are open sided, it can feel quite chilly so it is important to be prepared for all weather conditions and temperatures. Ensure you have suitable lightweight clothes which keep your skin protected from the sun. When the sun comes out it can feel very hot so wearing sunglasses, a hat and keeping well hydrated is crucial.
Please note: the above climate details are based on historical averages and may differ due to climate change and the unpredictable nature of the weather. We cannot be held responsible for weather conditions which differ to this. Should this happen the guide will assess the situation and make decisions to ensure the best enjoyment and ultimate safety of the group.
Thai food is one of the world’s most popular cuisines and it’s easy to understand why. You will enjoy a range of traditional meals, which are all freshly prepared and delicious.Thai cooking is complex with the intention to engage at least three of the five fundamental food tastes in every dish; sour, sweet, salty, bitter and spicy. Fresh, locally sourced ingredients such as meat, fish and vegetables are paired with aromatic spices and herbs to create astonishing meals. These dishes are usually served with steamed vegetables and rice or noodles to form a typical meal. The distinct flavours of Thai food come primarily from coriander, lemon grass, coconut, lime, shrimp, fish sauce, ginger, black pepper, garlic and basil. Northern Thai cuisine (Lana) is slightly different in style to that which is found in the rest of the country. Some popular dishes include Khao Soi curry, Sai Oua (Thai sausage), Kaeng Hang Lei (pork curry), Miang Kham (leaf wrapped snacks) and much more. Thai food isn’t always spicy but if you like your food with a kick, chilli or chilli sauce is often available if you ask.
Special dietary requirements can be catered for upon request. Please let us know about these at the time of booking.
During the trip you will mainly stay in hotels/resorts on a shared basis with en-suite bathrooms. There will also be one night of camping.
At the hotel accommodation you will have hot showers. While camping there will be basic shower facilities. We recommend that you take quick showers, turning off the water when lathering up, so warm water (if there is any) can be shared. You will need to bring your own towel and basic toiletries (please don’t pack too much!). Microfibre towels are highly absorbent but lightweight and fast-drying; do not bring cotton towels. You may wish to carry a small pack of baby wipes for your general hygiene during the trek day (e.g. to clean your hands before you eat lunch).
Thai toilets are generally of the squat variety, although Western toilets are often found in hotels, guesthouses and restaurants catering to foreign visitors. You should always carry toilet paper with you as it is rarely provided in public toilets. Always put used toilet paper into the bin provided – never put it in the toilet. We take frequent bathroom breaks during the drives and most coffee shops have facilities that you are able to use.
Anyone who would like to drive the tuk tuks needs to have a driving licence and an International Driving Permit (IDP). An ideal candidate for the trip would be someone who enjoys being out of their comfort zone and trying something new. Adventure travel involves an element of the unexpected so do not expect standards to be the same as you are used to at home. Remote areas are sometimes unpredictable (be it because of group pace, weather conditions, local bureaucracy, or other factors) and itineraries may be altered to allow for this. For you to get the most out of your challenge it is important that you are flexible, positive, and eager to take on all the challenges that arise. Suitable fitness preparation before departure forms part of this.
Please inform us on your booking form if you do not wish to drive a tuk tuk during the trip.
Although this is not essentially a physical challenge, there is the opportunity to take part in other activities so a good level of fitness will greatly enhance the enjoyment of this trip.
While this trip is not physically demanding some activities do require a certain level of mobility. Some things to take into account:
You will not be forced to do anything out of your comfort zone but being in prime physical fitness will help you make the most of this trip.
We require a medical form to be completed by everyone upon registering, and any pre-existing conditions, medications used and other medical issues must be specified. All your medical details are treated in the strictest confidence.
The information will be securely screened by a qualified medical professional, and details provided to your tour manager and local guides so our staff are adequately informed and prepared to support you during the trip. By completing our booking form you are giving consent for us to contact you confidentially with any follow up questions regarding your health.
If you declare any medical conditions you may be asked to provide more information, or we may request to contact your GP.
In the event that your medical issues at the time of booking represent a concern for your safety and wellbeing, or the safety and wellbeing of others in the group, you may be recommended not to take part. If this happens your booking will not be confirmed and the deposit will be refunded.
We must be informed if any conditions or medication change, or if new conditions develop. If necessary confirmation of fitness to travel from your GP or specialist may be required.
Please note that we will never unreasonably deny participation on a trip nor contravene the Equality Act 2010.
UK – Chiang Mai
Depart on an overnight flight to Chiang Mai. On arrival you will be met and transferred to a central hotel where you will have time to freshen up before meeting for a briefing and welcome dinner.
Chiang Mai – Mae Wang
We depart after breakfast for the tuk-tuk training base in Mae Wang and then start your driver training. Once this is completed (usually around an hour or so) we head out in convoy along tiny country lanes, through small communities up to a remote forest temple. If you are lucky the monks may bless you for the adventure ahead!
We’ll then head up the valley to our first stop – to enjoy a spot of bamboo rafting along the river! It’s then time to jump back into your tuk tuks to head further up into the mountains to the valley of Mae Sapok where we’ll walk through the forest to a waterfall for a picnic lunch.
Then it’s up fantastic steep roads into the high mountains as we head towards our campsite for the evening. Located in the foothills of Thailand’s highest mountain Doi Inthanon, the campsite is in a forest clearing with a stream running alongside. We’ll cook up a feast over the campfire this evening – great traditional mountain food.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Khun Wang – Khun Yuam
Leaving early this morning, today is a spectacular drive well and truly off the beaten track. The first couple of hours see us traversing through Doi Inthanon National Park and then descending to the rarely visited western slopes of the mountain, before we then head along the quiet, remote mountain roads towards the small town of Khun Yuam.
It’s a long day on the road – we take it slow in the tuk tuks! – but worth every minute as we pass through a number of Karen mountain communities and stopping to take in the views. Tonight we head out for some Northern Thai food.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Khun Yuam – Mae Hong Son
A fantastic day’s driving heading north into the Mae Hong Son province. We are now in the farthest north west of Thailand, closest to Myanmar border and a part of the country that feels very different to the rest. A significant proportion of the population here are from a variety of ethnic mountain groups and the influence of these diverse cultures is felt everywhere with very different styles of temples, clothing, language and food.
Stopping for lunch along the way, we will arrive at our overnight accommodation, around 7-8km outside Mae Hong Son town, by mid-afternoon. In the evening enjoy a well earned cold drink at the sunset bar before dinner!
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Mae Hong Son – Pai
A stunning route awaits today as we loop around the far north west of Thailand. Mountains roll away to the left towards the border with Myanmar, and deep forest to the right runs up into the mountains of Northern Thailand. We pass through many mountain villages and communities along the route and stop to explore Lod Caves (Thailand’s second largest cave system) before finally arriving in Pai in the late afternoon.
Stay just outside the well-known mountain town of Pai overnight and enjoy yet another great Thai feast and maybe even the town’s night market to build up your energy for the the final day’s drive tomorrow!
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Pai – Mae Weng
It is the final day’s drive today, and we’ve saved the best to last! An awesome day awaits as you drive around 180km up and over mountains, through remote rarely visited Karen villages, through forests and even stopping at some hot springs. There’s a bit of everything that’s best about Northern Thailand today, including some great steep hairpin bends to navigate!
We’ll arrive back at tuk tuk base camp in Mae Wang by late afternoon and then transfer to Chiang Mai city for a farewell meal to celebrate the adventure on three wheels you’ve just completed.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Chiang Mai – UK
Depending on flights, you may have time to explore Chiang Mai this morning before your transfer to the airport for your flight back to London, arriving the following day.
N.B. While we do not anticipate changes, this itinerary may be subject to alteration due to flight schedules, hotel availability and other factors outside our control. During the trip itself the itinerary will depend on the group ability, weather and the daily circumstances. Any changes in the itinerary will be made in the interest of group safety and enjoyment. In-country, your guide and tour manager will have the final say in the interest of the health and safety of the group.
Registration fee: £395
and then either…
Flexi: £2045 trip costs and £2045 sponsorship for a charity of your choice
This option is for those who choose to pay the trip costs (flights, accommodation, food, guides etc.) themselves. There is no sponsorship required although if you wish to raise sponsorship for a charity you are welcome to do so.
This option is for those who wish to raise sponsorship to cover both the costs of the trip (flights, accommodation, food, guides etc.) and a donation to their chosen charity. There is a minimum sponsorship amount for each trip that you are required to raise in order to participate.
This option is for those who choose to pay the trip costs (flights, accommodation, food, guides etc.) themselves while still raising some funds for the charity.
If you’ve a question about this challenge that you can’t find the answer to within the given information then complete this quick form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.