FIRST, EITHER FLY OR TAKE THE overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, the heart of Northern Thailand.
Chiang Mai is the first stop on a well-trodden tourist trail that runs to Luang Prabang, south to Vientiane, and back to Bangkok. Thousands of travelers funnel through this route each year with hardly a glimpse out the window of their air-conditioned buses.
You are not just another backpacker. You are looking to experience something different, something that will push you beyond your comfort zone and provide a glimpse of the ‘other Lao’, a strange, exotic, and immeasurably beautiful part of the world that exists a mere hundred meters from the path so many travel.