In photos: 15 experiences you shouldn't miss when in Northern Thailand (Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces)

Bangkok and Pattaya in the South are considered as the main drawers of tourists lusting for beaches and islands and local metro vibe experiences when in Thailand. The Northern areas on the other hand have a range of "different" things to-do and to-experience to offer. Imagine elephants, unique ethnicities, tea plantations, the long-neck tribe people and vast temple complexes.  

The north, especially the provinces of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, are still touristy but are not as inundated with tourists as the tourism capitals of Thailand.  

Being a traveler more drawn to nature and culture than the metropolis and city destinations, I find my recent visit to Thailand in the north more engaging and full of learning than my other trip to the capital. 

Here are the 15 experiences you shouldn't miss when in the North, especially in Chaing Mai and Chiang Rai:


Traveling near the Golden Triangle bordering Thailand, Myanmar and Laos introduced us to interesting stories of Lanna, Shan, Karen cultures, tribal wars, community transformations from problems of insurgencies and drugs, elephant caring, different religions, community-based tourism and agriculture.

It wasn't my first time in Thailand but this visit to the North together with the members of Provincial Tourism Council of South Cotabato was a totally different experience.

Still running in my mind are vivid images of royal palaces, the intricate dresses and long necks of Karen tribal women, quaint temples, traditional Thai villages, tea plantations, opulent gardens, herds of elephants, poops turned into paper, hot springs and beautifully plated thai delicacies.

So many stories to tell about our 7-day trip from Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in the North down to Pattaya and Bangkok in the South. I'm summing up in this 5+ minutes video our trip spearheaded by the private sector-led Tourism Council and sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand - The Philippines Branch Office.

Click thumb photo below to watch video:

VIDEO: Maguindanao's Inaul Festival in 55 seconds

Finally, I was able to march the streets of Buluan to join the last day of the grandest celebration in the province, the much talked-about Inaul Festival sa Maguindanao.

The celebration is centered on the Inaul weaves and the Maguindanaoan culture and heritage. Huge floats and dancers in vibrant costumes filled the streets amid the harsh morning sun and street dusts. 
But not an ounce of energy was lost in the celebration.
Inaul Festival is still young compared to other festivals in Mindanao. But it is never far behind in terms of grandiosity. The social media posts of fellow bloggers and the ones in the fest's official channels of the week-long celebration can tell how ready Maguindanao's Inaul Festival is to be tagged as among the grandest in the country. 

Here's my 55 sec highlight video of the Dindang sa Lalan street revelry last Feb 14, the last day of the Fest!

The Northern Colors of Thailand

Meet the Hero of 20,000+ Birds in Tacurong City

Rey Malana, the man who gave up his farm so that thousands of birds will have a home in Tacurong City.

Rey Malana was just a regular farmer tending to his family's 2.5 hectares of black pepper plantation in the rural village of Baras in Tacurong City. That was back in the 90s. But everything changed when sometime in September 1996, four birds started to appear, and, apparently after a while, stayed in his farm.

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