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Advice re. day trip from Chiang Rai to Mae Sai & Golden Triangle

Advice re. day trip from Chiang Rai to Mae Sai & Golden Triangle

Oct 1st, 2014, 04:01 PM
  #1  
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Advice re. day trip from Chiang Rai to Mae Sai & Golden Triangle

After 2 days in Chiang Rai (end of November) I am considering a day trip w. a guide/car to Mae Sai & Golden Triangle and then to Chiang Khong where we would sleep before taking the 2 day Luang Say Cruise to Luang Prabang. A few questions:

- is the above plan for the day too ambitious?
- if I want to reserve a good guide/reliable car in advance for this trip, any suggestions re. where to start and the best way to accomplish it (e.g. local travel agent, etc.)?
- any good experience with a local guide from this area?
- any idea re. price range this day might cost for 2 people?

Thanks in advance.
Suzanna is offline  
Oct 1st, 2014, 06:10 PM
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Mae Sai is border town and most people go there to cross the border to Tachileik where there are lots of duty free liquor and smoke shops as well as a sprawling market selling cheap knock off. Not a lot of the typical tourist attractions around there. The drive there will take you around 1 hour from CR and from Mae Sai another 2 hours to Chiang Khong.
Hanuman is offline  
Oct 1st, 2014, 06:13 PM
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Mai Sai is the border town with Myanmar. I don't recommend a trip to Mai Sai or to cross the border. Both are border towns, reminiscent of Tijuana, with no cultural interest. There are interesting places to visit in the area: Doi Tung, formerly the Queen Mother's estate is a lovely place to visit. You can see her home and the various economic development projects she championed. Chiang Sean, with some interesting ruins and a nice small museum is also worth a stop.

The various "3 countries" tours are simply awful. The place they take you to in Laos is just a group of tables selling stuff made in China.

&You don't really need a guide to do the things I recommend. We simply hired a driver and told him where we wanted to go. We were staying at the Anantara and had them arrange the driver, but any hotel in the area or any travel agency could recommend a driver and give them your instructions. I would guess a car and driver for the day might be something like US$100. This is just a WAG (wild ass guess) as it's been quite a few years since we were in the area.

One more stop you might want to make is at the Opium Museum - very well done, and just across the road from the entrance to the Anantara.
Kathie is offline  
Oct 1st, 2014, 06:14 PM
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Hanuman, you and I were posting at the same time.
Kathie is offline  
Oct 1st, 2014, 07:01 PM
  #5  
 
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We had a guide/driver called Jermsak, he was great you can find him on TA. Cost was about $65 US in Feb 2014. We didn't do the Golden triangle tour, but rather went to some local villages, caves and temples.

He arranged another guy to drive us to Chiang Khong, with a stop at the White Temple for about $40.
sartoric is offline  
Oct 1st, 2014, 07:27 PM
  #6  
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Thanks a lot for the quick and very helpful replies. Based on them I will not go to the Golden Triangle. Thanks for saving the day for something more interesting to do either in Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai. Is the White Temple on the road from Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong? I will look up Jermsak. Thanks for the cost info, it is very useful for trying to figure out the total cost estimate for the trip.

With the additional day at hand should I add it to Chiang Mai (where I was planning 3 nights) or Chiang Rai (2 nights)?
Suzanna is offline  
Oct 1st, 2014, 07:35 PM
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The White Temple, or "Wat Rung Khun", is just South of Chiang Rai while Chiang Khong is Northeast.
Hanuman is offline  
Oct 1st, 2014, 07:52 PM
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Hanuman is right about the directions, it suited us to include the White Temple on that day. I think it was about 1 - 2 hour drive to CK, which gave us some time to explore CK. Not a lot there mind you, I'd be okay with a late afternoon arrival.
sartoric is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2014, 10:50 AM
  #9  
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I located the latest contact info for Jermsak, sartoric.

While I didn't contact him yet, this is the latest info I found, should anyone else need it:

Nov 27, 2013, 1:49 AM

Jermsak details

Hand phone : +66(0)84 6154459, ( local call ) 084 6154459

[email protected]

Thanks. Were the vans that he and the driver he recommended relatively new and safe (e.g. have seat belts) and have functional A/C? I read a lot about unsafe drivers and cars generally in Indochina.
Suzanna is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2014, 10:53 AM
  #10  
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Here is the latest, unfortunate info re. White Temple. Based on it, I will not have a chance to visit in 2015....

Wat Rong Khun (Thai: วัดร่องขุ่น), more well-known among foreigners as the White Temple, is a contemporary unconventional Buddhist temple in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand. It was designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat in 1997.[1]

On 5 May 2014 at 18:08 (local time), the temple was heavily damaged by the earthquake in Mae Lao that struck the province.[2] It was closed indefinitely.[3] Chalermchai said on 6 May that he would demolish the whole temple and would not rebuild it.[4]

On May 7 morning after an engineering expert team inspected and confirmed that all building structures in the temple were unharmed by the quake, Chalermchai announced that he would rebuild the temple back to its original beauty in two years and promised to devote his life for the work. He also announced that the temple area will be open to visitors on May 8 afternoon. The gallery building will be open in a few days. But for some buildings, visitors will be allowed only to take pictures from outside.
Suzanna is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2014, 12:52 PM
  #11  
 
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Jermsaks van was modern, clean, had seat belts, and we felt very safe driving with him.

The White Temple was not so badly damaged as initially thought. I had a look at reviews on TA not long ago, it is open, and worth seeing IMO.
sartoric is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2014, 02:05 AM
  #12  
 
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I also recommend Jermsak - he is a wonderful local guide, with a great passion for the region. We hired him for 3 days, and we ended our travels with him in Chiang Khong also to begin the 2-day trip to Luang Prabang. If you are looking for a guide for the day in the Chiang Rai area, I recommend him highly, too.

In addition to the White Temple, I recommend a visit to the Black House -- actually, a large compound with many structures. It was built by another of Thailand's master artists, but is not as well known or as popular as the White Temple. We found the White Temple to be very crowded with bus tours, and while it is a remarkable accomplishment, it left us feeling a little let down. The Black House, on the other hand, really touched us.
Here's what I wrote in my trip report about our visit to the Black House:

"On the other hand, we both fell in love with the Black House. While there are tourists, it’s definitely not on the major circuit. And, on one hand, that’s too bad, but on the other, it is truly a serene atmosphere. We’re told that his work was not appreciated and received a lot of criticism, which is very understandable when you see the work. He captures a dark spirit, using animal skin, bones, skulls and other animal parts, but it’s hardly grotesque and seems to integrate cultural icons from the American Southwest & Northwest, Pacific island tribes, as well as many other worldwide iconic tribal images. This is a fabulous compound, many houses (and the artist lives here, although his home is not public), and is peaceful and serene. We could’ve easily spent a few hours here – but the complex shuts for an hour at noon, so we were done."
progol is offline  
Oct 5th, 2014, 10:49 AM
  #13  
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Thanks. I will contact Jermsak. I also read your very helpful trip report, progol, based on sartoric's suggestion. A lot to learn but I have plenty of time. Another "break" in planning is coming, we will have the grandchildren for a week.
Suzanna is offline  
Oct 5th, 2014, 03:21 PM
  #14  
 
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Suzanna,
Glad that the trip report has been helpful. Jermsak is a delight to spend time with - I'm glad you've decided to contact him.

Meantime, enjoy the grandkids!
progol is offline  

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