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lhgreenacres Jul 26th, 2013 12:21 PM

1st Trip to Thaiand- Advice on National Parks and Northern Thailand???
 
I really interested in a trip to Thailand in February, 2014 with a focus on the natural environment, birding and wildlife. We are considering Khao Yai, Kaeng Krachen and. Doi Inthanon as possibilities. I also wanted to do some trekking and hill tribe visits. We are open to overnight village stays but really want to make sure that the experience is authentic. I am also somewhat confused about the best place to do such a trip. Is it better to start from Chiang Mai, Chaing Rai or Mae Hong Son. Also I am not sure if a four or five night trek might be too much and perhaps too repetitive in terms of scenery and the experience. I would love to hear from people that did overnight village stays and what they thought of the experience. We are experienced travelers and really prefer beautiful, remote places. Comfortable for me is an issue, not for the other half, so I understand that this could be a little challenging depending on the number of nights we choose to do. We have probably about 12 days in country for this trip. Also I contacted a number of different companies and that has been confusing about what each offer,so recommendations would be appreciated. Is it better to hire a local guide in each area or to have one company coordinate the whole trip?

Hanuman Jul 26th, 2013 03:44 PM

I dont' do trekking and overnight stay with the hill tribes but this might be a good plan iMO. Start your trip in Chiang Mai and then travel by car to Pai and Mae Hong Sorn, two town on the so call "Mae Hong Sorn loop". From either Pai or Mae Hong Sorn you can find some trekking through parks and visit the local hill tribe in the area. Good comfortable accommodation in Pai and Mae Hong Sorn so you will be comfortable in either place. Mae Hong Sorn will be more rustic and quieter than Pai where it will be more "lively" with a lot of dining choices.

Bo2642 Jul 26th, 2013 07:27 PM

Take a look at the Untouched Thailand website (untouchedthailand.com). The owner, Sipohn, is very forthcoming with information and the reviews on Trip Advisor are exceptional. If nothing else, Sipohn may be able to give you some direction.

crellston Jul 27th, 2013 04:18 AM

I agree with Hanuman's suggestion re MHS. The trekking and hill tribe stays there are much better than the options closer to Chiang Mai which are very tourist orientated and arguably, exploitative of the minority peoples.

Fern Resort in MHS is a good place to start. Firstly, it is a great place to stay and secondly, it has links to a community based tourism group which tries to ensure a reasonably "authentic" experience and that the rewards of the endeavour stay with the communities.

The MHS loop will provide a great insight into North Thailand. The usual stops are Pai, MHS, Soppong, Mai Sariang and passing through Doi Inthanon NP on the way back to CM.

Pai, has some fantastic places to stay, some very upmarket these days, but it is a bit too busy for me. MHS gets a lot of foreign and domestic tourists but is still very much a working town and a nice place to spend a few days. Soppong is very quiet and has some great trekking to villages nearby, caves to visit and a fantastic local market. Mai Sariang is a growing town with an increasing number of places to stay but still a really nice town with some really good food!

As to whether a 5 night trek is right for you, only you can tell. My experience is that the further you go "off the beaten track" the more authentic and better the experience, but don't expect too much by way of creature comforts e.g. the food won't always be great and bathroom facilities may be limited or non existent!

That said, we have done these sort of treks in several parts of the world and have loved it every time despite the inevitable discomfort from time to time. The people and the scenery make it all worthwhile.

If you "like beautiful remote places" then take a look at Northern Lao, around Muang Sing and Phongsali, there is some really great trekking around that area.

lhgreenacres Jul 27th, 2013 09:32 AM

Thank you so much for your responses. Is is possible to travel through the area without reservations at the hotel/lodges? I thought it would be nice to be able to flexible and have a driver and a guide for about six nights to just explore. I will look at Lao as well. Do you have a recommendation for a guide in that area. I have no problem weighing the discomfort with the experience but I want to make sure that the experience for multiple days does not become to much of the same thing.


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