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-   -   Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai (https://www.fodors.com/community/asia/chiang-mai-or-chiang-rai-478115/)

pagors Oct 3rd, 2004 05:44 AM

Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai
 
Planning a family trip next May or June to include Northern Thailand. Do you recommend Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai?

sharon815 Oct 3rd, 2004 12:18 PM

We visited both last christmas time and they're very different. Chang Mai is a large city. There are some spectacular temples (Doi Suthep), a fantastic government-run elephant camp and a beautiful orchid farm. There are also all sorts of crafts factories, teak, umbrella-making, jade, lacquer, silver, etc. The nite market is also lots of fun. You could spend a few days there.
Chang Rai is the jumping off point into the Golden Triangle and you can even take a several hour boat ride across into Laos.
You may also want to consider Mae Hong Son where we went riding on elephants in the jungle (just us-not a string of people!), traveled up the rivers by boat, visited a cave with blue carp and went to the village of the long-necked women (refugees from the Burmese conflicts). In Mae Hong Son, we stayed at an incredible ecotourism place on the side of the mountain at a national park and went hiking in the park led by trail dogs! There's also a magnificent Mon Temple there.
You can fly around among these cities and Bangkok for very little money, saving considerable time; the flights are thru Thai Airways and we were surprised at how little they cost.
We had our trip arranged through an agent in Thailand and she did a fabulous job. Let me know if you want more information.
We also spent time in Bangkok, visited Kanchanaburi (River Kwai) where we stayed on rafts floating in the river and went to Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
We didn't go south (to the beaches) because of time constraints and our interests were more in terms of culture, nature, history, etc.
An awesome holiday and very affordable with the US dollar (about 2 1/2 weeks)!

stockexchanger Oct 3rd, 2004 12:24 PM

Sharon Hi....we were wondering the same thing and I was leaning toward Chiang Rai. I read an article about someone who drove to Mae Hong Son from Chiang Rai....do you know how far it is, and is it too much to do a day trip?
Thanks

Kay2 Oct 3rd, 2004 12:57 PM

Sharon--
Please tell more about Mae Hong Son. I've only seen one or two other reports on this board. Sounds as if you were at the Fern Resort others have mentioned? Who did you tour with from there? Can you recommend a specific company or guide? Who arranged the elephant ride, etc.? Please give us a day by day account of your time in that area. It's very limited on this board compared to CM and CR.

sharon815 Oct 3rd, 2004 02:20 PM

To stockexchanger: We didn't drive from Mae Hong Son to Chiang Rai, but according to http://www.guidetothailand.com/maps-....htm?distance=, it's about 630 km (370 miles. Obviously, no way you can do a day trip:-)! Based on what I've heard about the roads (no first hand knowledge about them up there tho), I'd be inclined to try to fly. The flights don't seem to cost much more than the trains and are very quick and safe (Thai Airways).
From Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai is about 300 km (180 miles) thru the mtns. We flew from Chiang Mai; it takes about 35-40 minutes. I think the flight was only about 30usd. But there was a problem with the plane and we had to drive back. The roads were well-paved, but so winding that it took 5-6 hours and people were getting sick all along the sides of the road!
The drive from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai was several hours but it was lovely, passing a hot spring, driving thru the mtns. Besides taking a boat over to Laos (a really touristy area, but fun anyway), we also crossed the border (on foot) into Myanmar (Burma)-methamphetamine of the world and home of unlimited cd/dvd/software piracy) and spent a few hours there. Our Thai guide came over with us and hired a local Burmese guide for a couple of hours to take us around and up to one of their large temples on the mountain.

To Kay: Yes, we stayed at the Fern Resort. It's fantastic and I'd highly recommend it. We arranged our whole trip with Go Thailand (we worked with Sai there - I can give you her email address if you'd like). They set up all our guides and drivers, transfers, accommodations, etc. throughout Thailand and at Angkor. They arranged the elephant rides, temple visits, flights, etc. and did a fantastic job. We wouldn't have known to do a lot of the things they planned for us - you tell them what you like and work off that. If you'd like, I can email you our itinerary and you can pick and choose what you want.

pagors Oct 3rd, 2004 06:28 PM

Sharon thanks for your comments. This is very helpful. What is the email address for Sai at Go Thailand? All these places sound very exciting. If you only had time for one, it sounds like you would do Mae Hong Son, followed by Chiang Mai over Chiang Rai.

Kay2 Oct 4th, 2004 03:32 AM

Sharon, you are so kind.
I'd love to get the contact and see your itinerary. If you don't want to post here, I use email at: metwo3 @ hotmail
Thanks

sharon815 Oct 4th, 2004 04:53 AM

To Pagors: You can reach Sai at [email protected]. They really did a fabulous job for us - the itinerary, the guides, hotels, meals, etc. It's tough to pick among the 3 cities; they're very different. How many days would you have to spend? Are you traveling with kids? How old are they? Are you more into nature, culture, religion, etc? In Mae Hong Son, btw, we got up at sunrise one morning and went up to the temple on the mountain and visited the morning market. You'll definitely need either a guide or a rental car to do all the things that I've written about, especially if you stay at the Fern Resort which is not in town.

To Kay: I've e-mailed you the itinerary and contact information.

travelin_girl Oct 7th, 2004 08:53 PM

Could have written some of these same questions. You've all been so informative.

Sharon, if you don't mind, I'd love a copy of your itinerary. My address is [email protected] I've been looking high and low for a travel agent in Thailand, so I am thrilled to see your recommendation.

sharon815 Oct 21st, 2004 06:27 PM

Hi travelin girl.
Sorry I didn't reply to you. My computer's been a problem lately so I haven't checked this board. But I've emailed all the info to you.
Let me know if there's anything more I can do.

jbtraveller Oct 22nd, 2004 05:11 AM

Sharon. I would love a copy of your trip also and will contact gothailand as they sound great. email [email protected]. Thanks

sharon815 Oct 22nd, 2004 05:43 AM

Hi jbtraveler.
Just e-mailed you everything.

joh Oct 22nd, 2004 06:11 AM

Can you also send me a copy of your report and the guide in Go thailand to
[email protected]

THanks

sharon815 Oct 22nd, 2004 06:38 AM

Hi Joh.
Sent to info to you. Hope it helps. Sharon

Clif Oct 26th, 2004 04:34 AM

Sharon, could you send some info on your Thailand trip? This sounds exactly what we are looking for! Thanks! [email protected]

sharon815 Oct 26th, 2004 07:03 AM

Clif, I'm e-mailing everything to you now. Enjoy!

glorialf Oct 26th, 2004 08:06 AM

sharon, I'd also love to see your report -- [email protected]

Thanks

sharon815 Oct 26th, 2004 08:16 AM

Hi there Gloria. I'm doing that now.

europhile Oct 26th, 2004 08:30 AM

Sharon-
I'd also love to get a copy of your itinerary. My email is [email protected]. Thanks so much!

frecklez Oct 28th, 2004 06:27 AM

Another itinerary request Sharon, thanks for all the information! [email protected]. :)


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