Heading north from Thailand's dusty central plains, the heat gives way to cool, clean air and a terrain of forested limestone hills and rivers. The pace and people seem gentler in this colourful corner of Thailand, bordering Burma and Laos.
Northern Thailand's most significant city remains Chiang Mai - it's walled and moated old city, ancient temples, bustling markets and exceptional hotels a magnet for visitors.
Trekking and visiting the diverse array of tribal hill peoples in the northern villages are popular, especially at Mae Hong Son, a beautiful village encircled by hills and often cloaked in mist.
Chiang Rai is another highlight, and an important trekking centre and base for exploring the natural and historical wonders of the Golden Triangle.