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Tips for Chiang Rai (or stop eleswhere ?)

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We are nearing the end of our Cambodia and Laos trip, and we'll be flying home from Bangkok where I have 4 nights planned. We are doing the 2 day river trip from Luang Prabang, and will end up at the border in Chiang Khong in the evening. We can go directly to Chiang Rai from there that night and have 3 nights and two full days in Chiang Rai. Or, we could spend a night and part of a day in Chiang Khong or elsewhere before heading out to Chiang Rai.

I know many of you recommend Chiang Rai, but as I've been reading about it I am seeing that in many ways it is considered just a featureless town by many. True or not true? I don't think the White Temple calls to me, and we are trying to figure out if there really is enough to do spending a day just meandering around the city. I have been in contact with Jermsak, and he is offering us the opportunity to join another couple on the day trip that is rafting, a temple, hill tribe visit and maybe an (optional elephant ride). We've done elephant treks before as part of jungle safaris in Nepal and India, so this is not any huge attraction to me, but the other parts of the day sound interesting. If we did this, we'd have one day wandering the city on our won and the one day trip excursion.

We've now spent 4 nights trekking and boating and village visiting in Nong Khiau in northern Laos, so I am really trying to decide if we should also devote time to northern Thailand or just head to closer to Bangkok and spend a few days somewhere else. We also saw nearly all of the temples in the Siem Reap area.

Thoughts or advice anyone?

thanks much.

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