Ditch the tourist trails well-travelled and head to Northern Thailand for temples, trekking and traditional Thai culture.

Big, bustling Bangkok may be the first city you think of when you’re planning a trip to Thailand, but head for the north and you’ll be rewarded with a very different scene, lush with greenery and the hypnotic flow of carved rice paddies. Chiang Mai is still a bright and happening city, full of great bars and restaurants, but it runs at a more laidback pace, with its twinkling Chiang Mai Night Bazaar full of street vendors and sizzling traditional food. If you like hiking, you’ll hit the scenic jackpot at Chiang Rai, which is full of rainforests, waterfalls, hot springs and the magical, pearly white Wat Rong Khun temple, while the artful town of Nan is rich in mountainous national parks, as well as riverside restaurants and a yearly longboat race.