A long time ago, a rel­ic from the Buddha—a bone from his shoul­der that held mag­i­cal powers—was buried deep in a sacred tem­ple perched atop a moun­tain. The tem­ple of Doi Suthep and the leg­end of its rel­ic attract thou­sands of vis­i­tors every day, though on this trip, you’ll embark on a pil­grim­age of your own to find oth­er trea­sures hid­den amongst the still­ness of the moun­tains, the sanc­ti­ty of the forests and the thrill of explor­ing what’s around the bend.

From the bustling city of Chi­ang Mai to the bucol­ic hills of Huai Nam Dang Nation­al Park to the sum­mit of Thai­land’s high­est peak, get ready for an adven­ture that is every bit as sacred as the tem­ples you’ll vis­it along the way. This expert­ly craft­ed itin­er­ary con­nects well-known moun­tain bike trails with cen­tu­ry-old foot­paths and long-for­got­ten trade routes, redis­cov­ered by metic­u­lous­ly scour­ing maps, speak­ing with local tribes­men and search­ing with pick­ax and machete in hand, Indi­ana Jones-style, for sin­gle­track gold.

Luck­i­ly for you, after all that adven­tur­ing, you’ll feast on mouth-water­ing Thai cui­sine, soak in nat­ur­al hot springs, relax with leg­endary Thai mas­sages and stay in serene accom­mo­da­tions. You’re in the ‘Land of Smiles’, after all, and every day will have you grin­ning from ear to ear.

Is This Ride For You?

You love a mix of dif­fer­ent types of rid­ing; from tight, windy sin­gle­track to fast and steep down­hill trails to adven­tur­ous back­coun­try dou­ble­track. You’re up for a few chal­leng­ing climbs along the way if it means being reward­ed with incred­i­ble views and long, thrilling descents. Ele­va­tion won’t be much of a fac­tor on this trip; the high­est peak we’ll reach is 2200m/7200ft, and we’ll be point­ing our bikes down from there. You love trav­el­ling to expe­ri­ence a new cul­ture, to see a dif­fer­ent way of life and to get out of your com­fort zone. Most of the trails we access through­out this trip are in very remote areas, acces­si­ble only by rugged fire roads and jeep tracks in var­i­ous states of dis­re­pair. Not for the faint of heart! Our vehi­cles can han­dle it, but can you?

Itinerary

DAY 1. Arrive in Chi­ang Mai

Wel­come to Thai­land! We’ll meet you at Chi­ang Mai Inter­na­tion­al Air­port and trans­fer you to our hotel in the old town. We’ll build our bikes and in the evening, we’ll enjoy an assort­ment of Thai cui­sine for dinner.

If pos­si­ble, it is advis­able to arrive a day or two ear­ly in Chi­ang Mai to prop­er­ly adjust to the time dif­fer­ence. Spend some time strolling around the old tem­ples and mar­kets, and rid your­self of any jet lag after the long flight with a tra­di­tion­al Thai massage.

DAY 2.  Into the Mountains

After break­fast, we’ll review the week’s itin­er­ary and then embark on a 2‑hour dri­ve to the Mae Lao — Mae Sae wildlife con­ser­va­tion area. 

We’ll start with an easy and scenic morn­ing ride; a mix of fire roads and nat­ur­al sin­gle­track, and have a tasty lunch at a local restaurant.

The after­noon ride will be a long, thrilling descent most­ly on sin­gle­track. We’ll enjoy din­ner at a favourite restau­rant near the end of the trail, before head­ing to our sim­ple yet won­der­ful bun­ga­lows for the night, locat­ed on the moun­tain top of Huai Nam Dang Nation­al Park.

DAY 3. The Sea of Mist

Set your alarm for sun­rise; you won’t want to miss the spec­tac­u­lar show. Wak­ing up above the clouds the locals refer to as “The Sea of Mist” is a sight to behold.

After break­fast, we’ll shut­tle deep into the Huai Nam Dang Nation­al Park to embark on an epic ride: a fun roller coast­er of nat­ur­al sin­gle­track. We’ll call in at a remote hill tribe set­tle­ment on the way to a well-deserved lunch. Time and lungs per­mit­ting, a shut­tle and short ride, most­ly down­hill, can be added in the afternoon.

We’ll trans­fer to Pai, a love­ly hip town best known for its street mar­kets, health spas and bohemi­an atmos­phere, and we’ll check into our beau­ti­ful glamp­ing resort for the night.

DAY 4. Tracks of Pai

Today we’re at a more relaxed pace. After break­fast, we’ll trans­fer a short dis­tance out­side Pai for a  remark­ably scenic ride through the wide-open countryside.

Enjoy beau­ti­ful panoram­ic views before descend­ing a super flowy trail through the for­est that will take us all the way to the out­skirts of Pai. From there we ride back into town for lunch.

In the after­noon, we’ll start head­ing back to Chi­ang Mai. Along the way we’ll stop for anoth­er short, roller coast­er ride in the Mae Lao — Mae Sae Preserve.

Day 5. Chi­ang Mai Vis­tas By Day and Night

Today we’ll trans­fer to the San Kuu ruins high up on Doi Pui, and ped­al up to the summit.

We’ll ride two trails in the area: the short but very tech­ni­cal north ridge and the trail lead­ing west. After a late lunch, we’ll vis­it Wat Doi Suthep, a remark­able 14th-cen­tu­ry gold­en tem­ple and a must-see for any­one vis­it­ing Chi­ang Mai.

For the more adven­tur­ous among us, we’ll have an option­al night ride down Doi Suthep Moun­tain! We’ll strap on night lights to han­dle­bars and hel­mets (pro­vid­ed by us), and take an easy but fun trail down, most­ly on fire roads with some fun sin­gle­track sec­tions, with great views of Chi­ang Mai at night along the way.

Day 6. The Kar­ma Trail

Well rest­ed, we’ll trans­fer south­west to the Mae Wang Nation­al Park, home to Thai­land’s high­est peak (2565 m).

The morn­ing ride strings togeth­er sev­er­al short and punchy climbs and descents and ends with an incred­i­ble, long flow­ing down­hill that ends at an old temple.

The after­noon ride shares the descent but we approach it from a dif­fer­ent direc­tion and take care of the ele­va­tion gain from the com­fort of our sup­port vehicles.

Day 7. The Roof of Thailand

Today we’ll don our trekking shoes for a chal­leng­ing, stren­u­ous 700m ver­ti­cal hike through the lush for­est on the north side of Doi Inthanon, Thai­land’s tallest peak. We’ll arrive at a rocky out­crop and an ancient, long-for­got­ten stu­pa. Once we reach the sum­mit at 2200m, where we’ll break for a pic­nic lunch to take in our surroundings.

Luck­i­ly for us, a mer­ry band of ded­i­cat­ed local porters will car­ry our bikes up a dif­fer­ent trail. Once reunit­ed with our steeds, we’ll nav­i­gate our way down a spec­tac­u­lar trail offer­ing breath­tak­ing views, with an unfor­get­table ridge along the way.

The after­noon ride has a siz­able climb, but the descent is a fast, flow­ing trail that ends near a unique tem­ple with steep stairs.

Day 8 Rivers and Waterfalls

We’ll shut­tle high up to a remote vil­lage, and vis­it the local hill tribe school. After shar­ing high fives with enthu­si­as­tic kinds, a shad­ed fire road climb and descent will lead us to a seclud­ed farm­ing com­mu­ni­ty. It marks the start of sin­gle­track heaven.

A short but super steep lung buster sep­a­rates the two parts of the descent. The ride con­tin­ues in a dried-up riverbed and then an undu­lat­ing dirt road that takes us behind the nation­al park gates. Lunch will be served in front of the spec­tac­u­lar Wachi­rathan waterfall.

The after­noon ride starts with a chal­leng­ing sin­gle­track climb that merges with (and repeats) the morn­ing’s descent. We’ll get picked up at a scenic area just past the riverbed before trans­fer­ring back to Chi­ang Mai.

Day 9. DH Dreaming

Today is a well deserved down­hill day. We strap on (at a min­i­mum) knee pads, dou­ble-check our brakes, and spend a day shut­tling down­hill runs of Doi Suthep mountain.

The nat­ur­al trails here are long, steep and gnarly, but we will guide you down at a com­fort­able pace. Trail selec­tion will be made depend­ing on the trail con­di­tions, but a typ­i­cal day would include the local favourites: Gee’s House, Bam­boo and ATV trail.

In the evening, we’ll rev­el over a deli­cious cel­e­bra­to­ry din­ner and reflect on our adventures.

Day 10. Farewells

After break­fast and our final good­byes, we’ll dri­ve you to the Chi­ang Mai Inter­na­tion­al Air­port (CNX) a few hours before your depar­ture flight.

Picture Yourself Here…

Jew­els of Thailand
San­ta Cruz Team vis­its North­ern Thailand

Book Jewels of Thailand Now

Dates chosen: Nov. 01, 2020—Nov. 10, 2020
Skill Rating: Blue Square
Fitness Rating: Blue Square
Exit Booking
Skill Levels
Green Circle

Typically, green Rides are safe for beginners. Green Rides may have both avoidable and unavoidable obstacles. Trails are generally low grade, wide, consistent surface texture and have minimal features. You are likely to come across unavoidable obstacles 2-inches or shorter, which is small enough for mountain bike tires to simply roll over. More challenging than tarmac, but in general, a wonderful Ride for those riders new to mountain biking or looking for a casual experience.

Blue Square

In general, Blue trails are narrower than green trails, encounter unavoidable obstacles such as roots, rocks, and drops that are up to 8-inches tall. You will want to have a solid understanding of the fundamentals of mountain biking including body positions, powerful braking, cornering, riding on varied terrain, steep sections and experience riding trails that requires line choice. Airtime is not mandatory, but you will find yourself on trails with alternate lines giving you the option.

Black Diamond

The Black Diamond Rides are  suitable for riders looking for that edge. Maybe it’s the edge of a drop, the edge of a cliff, or singletrack requiring focus and fast reactions developed from extensive experience riding “the edge”. You will find yourself on steep trails of varied surfaces. In the Pacific North West that could be slick roots and loam, in Nepal you will find exposed granite in the Mustang Valley and in Guatemala it maybe narrow stairways through cliffside villages. While airtime is rarely required, the ability to find the backside or clean a tabletop should be comfortable or in a state of progress. Obstacles on Black rides are likely to be outside the range of your bikes ability to cover your goofs with its awesome suspension and grip.

Double Black Diamond

A Double Black ride is for those that already know they are looking for a Double Black. It’s going to be very hard and require advanced bike handling skills. You will find yourself on trails with sections most non-riders would look at and say, “that’s totally nuts!”. You will know how to look at a line and contemplate where it will work and where it won’t. Drops of a couple feet should be comfortable and getting your bike off the ground should feel predictable and fun.

Fitness Levels
Green Circle

You should be ready to spend 2-4 hours per day on the bike. Mileage may be up to 30km/20 miles and elevation gain will be under 500m/1500feet. On e-MTB tours, numbers will be higher, however the approximate effort would be considered similar to a standard Green Circle ride. If you get on your bike once a week, you will be just fine. However, when preparing for a Ride, you will benefit from more rides and time in the saddle.

Blue Square

Blue should be considered a good deal more effort than our Green Rides.  You should be able to handle 3 to 5 hours in the saddle covering up to 45km/30miles and be able to pull off a big day of 1000m/3000feet of elevation gain. Managing fuel is important as well.  You should have a good understanding how your body responds to multiple days on the bike. We will help with positive coaching, a manageable pace and plenty of trailside snacks.

Black Diamond

A Black Fitness ride will test you. Aside from needing to be able to manage up to 6 hours on the bike, day after day, including distance up to 50km/30miles and elevation gains up to 1750m/5000feet of climbing, you will be adding extra challenges along the route like periods of hike-a-bike and the extra effort required by the whole body to safely dance with your bike over technical terrain. Generally, riders who are up for a Black Fitness ride, likely spend time on the bike a couple times each week.

Double Black Diamond

A Double Black will be for those with the strength and endurance to get to the top of anything they want and understand the term “turning the screw”. Distance could be quite high on some routes and elevation gain numbers could hit 2000m/6000 feet+ in a day. You are likely riding multiple days a week during the dry periods and have a trainer or belong to a gym for the rest of the year.