Most people going to North Thailand visit Chiang Mai and make a side-trip to Pai, Mae Hong Son or Chiang Rai. But North Thailand has so much more beautiful places to offer. Visit Lampang and experience like Chiang Mai was 30 years ago. Go to the mountains and visit the Chinese village Doi Mae Salong and walk thru tea plantations. Go totally off the beaten track in Nan province. Or relax along Kwan Phayao in of course Phayao.
2. Travel animal friendly
Most people going to North Thailand will visit Elephants Camps, now called Elephant Sanctuaries. But my personal advice would be not to visit any place that uses animals as entertainment. And I think that also means do not visit ZOO's.
3. Enjoy the simple things in life
Most people going to North Thailand see only the highlights but try to enjoy the normal daily way of life. Watch sunset at Kwan Phayao lake. Get lost in the small streets of the old city of Chiang Mai.
4. Visit the Jungle and National Parks
Make a trekking in the mountains of Chiang Dao.
5. Travel at the best time of the day
Most people traveling trend to wake-up late, but the early morning is the most beautiful time of the day. And nice cool with fresh air. Personally I wake-up at 5:00am and start the day with a walk.
6. Make a bicycle tour.
Just like in Bangkok there are a few other places where you can make beautiful bicycle tours, the best way to experience local way of life. You will find bicycle tours in Sukhothai, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. You will love it!