THE GREAT AMERICAN VACATION
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Soaring tourist numbers—particularly young Chinese visitors with newly acquired wealth and the urge and freedom to travel—have fueled an unprecedented hotel building boom in recent years. Most of the new properties are in the traditional so-called Lanna style, and the most luxurious of them rival hotels in Bangkok. One, the Dhara Dhevi, justly claims to be among Asia's finest. Except for the
high season, from December to February, prices are far lower than in the capital. Charming, modestly priced guesthouses and small hotels abound, and some are right on the water. Watch out for guesthouses that advertise cheap room rates and then tell you the accommodation is only available if you book an expensive tour. Always ask if there's a tour requirement with your room rate. All hotels and most guesthouses accept dollars, but if you are paying in greenbacks check the offered exchange rate carefully; it can be as much as 10% less than what is obtainable in banks and at exchange booths.