The Tuk Tuk Club has a very simple purpose – to help travellers to Northern Thailand get a truer picture of this most beautiful and welcoming part of the country. We’ll help you get away from the usual tourist routes and make a truer more personal connection with the people, the land and the culture. You’ll experience places, people and food that you’d never see on a normal trip in Thailand.
Just an hour outside of the ancient city walls of Chiang Mai, you’ll visit rural communities and temples to get a glimpse of true Northern Thailand. You’ll learn about the future of Thailand’s elephants at a fantastic small elephant home, float gently downriver on a bamboo raft and travel remote country roads behind the ‘wheel’ of your very own Tuk tuk.
So if you’re looking for to get out of the city and off the beaten track… look no further.
Our base camp is in a stunning valley about an hour from Chiang Mai. This is where you’ll learn to drive your Tuk Tuk, get a Temple blessing for the journey ahead and spend some time with elephants at a local elephant home. A great way to spend you first day on the road.
Temples and Villages
First up… Wat Tham Nam Hu, an incredible and rarely visited forest mediation retreat for monks with a holy spring, caves complete with Buddha images and stunning views from the hillside ‘chedi’. Next up you’ll explore Wat Nong Yen, it’s a beautiful Temple right in the middle of a small rural community and a great example of how Temples traditionally formed the heart and soul of local communities. We then pass through the farming village of Nong Yen giving a great opportunity to see rural community going about its business – farmers working in the fields, kids fishing in the river and people just relaxing at local bars and cafes with a well earned drink and some proper Thai food. Rural Northern Thailand at it’s most authentic and very best.
A real favourite with our travellers, this small elephant home has led the way in taking their elephant out of the riding industry and instead provides a relaxed and comfortable life where they’re treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. You’ll learn about the history of the home and their elephants, help the mahouts feed them and then head out on a walk through the countryside together. The end of the walk is at the local river where you’ll help the mahouts bathe them, and watch them play around in the water. It’s a great experience that’s helping to ensure a sustainable future for the elephants, and the community who have lived with them for generations.
Climb aboard a bamboo raft and enjoy the local scenery from a different perspective. Expertly steered by the guys from a nearby village, all you need to do is sit back, relax and watch the world go by as the river winds it’s way through the local countryside. You will get wet (but don’t worry – there are no huge rapids!) but it’s a lovely way of keeping cool in the heat of the afternoon.
You can either meet the group at the Chiang Mai Gate Hotel at 07:45, or we will pick you up from your hotel between 08:00 and 08:30, (note – pick up’s can only be provided for hotels inside the Chiang Mai ‘middle ring road’) and then transfer by minivan to our base for the day nestled in the Mae Wang valley.
On arrival in Mae Wang, our team will introduce you to your Tuk Tuk and begin your driving training. If you don’t want to drive a Tuk Tuk, don’t worry, you can take in the scenery and the cool breeze from the comfy seats in the back!
The Tuk Tuks are pretty easy to master and once everyone is feeling comfortable behind the wheel we’ll head through tiny rural roads, snaking through farming villages and past rural temples. One of our guides always drives the lead Tuk Tuk making sure that you don’t lose your way and no-one is tempted to go too fast! With frequent stops to explore and, importantly, make sure everyone has a good opportunity to drive, you’ll get a great insight into real rural life in Northern Thailand. Something that’s not as easy to come across as you’d think.
By late morning we’ll arrive at the elephant home where you’ll not only learn about the past, present and future of the Thai Elephant but also have the opportunity to interact with them. Once you’ve been introduced to the elephants – who have been taken out of a life of trekking and can now relax and enjoy their time more naturally – you’ll be able to help the mahouts feed them. After you’ve fed the elephants it’s time to sit down to a hearty Thai lunch. You’ll eat close to the elephants, so you’ll get a chance to watch them in their natural surroundings.
After lunch you’ll walk with the mahouts and their elephants through the local countryside to the river where you’ll help with elephant bath time – a fantastic experience for you and the elephants
Now it’s time to enjoy some water activities of a different kind as you float lazily along the local river on a traditional bamboo raft. Don’t worry, there are no rapids along the way, rather this is a great opportunity to see the local surroundings from a different angle and have a huge amount of fun negotiating the twists and turns of the river.
It’s time to jump back into your Tuk Tuk and wind your way back down the valley enjoying your last moments behind the wheel of a real Thailand ‘icon’. The road curves and sweeps gently down the valley. Be sure to have your camera out to catch the surprise on the faces of the locals when they see you driving a Tuk Tuk!
On reaching The Tuk Tuk Club HQ you’ll transfer back into a minivan and we’ll take you back to your hotel, arriving around 6:00PM giving you plenty of time in the evening to reflect on the incredible day you’ve had and the fact that you’re now a member of The Tuk Tuk Club!
Arrive back in Chiang Mai City.