Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai by boat

Jul 14th, 2005, 01:38 PM
  #1  
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Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai by boat

Tell me about it. My guide book and this site gives a little info. How comfortable are the boats? How long is the ride? Food/drinks/bathrooms on boats? Stop along the way? Cost? Where to arrange? Thanks bunches.
kywood1955 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2005, 02:58 PM
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Don't do it as part of a tour. Rent one on your own with a guide if you really want. It will be comfortable enough and you will be able to stop whenever you want. We had a great time when we did it.
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Jul 14th, 2005, 08:37 PM
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The boat to Chiang Rai leaves from Thaton, a lovely river village town about 173kms from Chiang Mai. You can get there by taking an air-conditioned public bus or hiring a car/taxi. The trip takes about 31/2 hrs and buses leave at 7 and 9 am, although those leaving at 9 might miss the boat that leaves at 12.30. Cost around 120 baht. You might consider staying a night here and enjoying the relaxed atmosphere along the river at one of several fair hotels. You could also take a tour to one of the last remaining real hill tribes. There are several passenger boats, all leaving at the same time and each holds 12 people. Cost is 250 baht and it takes about 4-5 hours. Each person sits sideways with their legs crossed for the entire trip, with one stop in Ban Mae Salak, about 45 minutes from Thaton. Alternatively, you can charter your own longtail boat and make stops at hilltribe villages along the way.
However, there is a much easier and better way to enjoy this great journey on the Mae Kok and that is to do it in the reverse direction, Chiang Rai to Thaton. The reason is 95% of the people riding the boats start in Thaton leaving a lot of empty boats going in the opposite direction. The boats depart Chiang Rai at 10:30 am arriving in Thaton about 2 pm. This way you miss the heat of the day and you may be the only one in the boat. This means you can stretch out and relax while enjoying the beautiful scenery along the river. Local hill tribe people who live along the river also take this boat as it will stop for them if they wave it down, so you could have some locals and their goods keeping you company. The boat going to CR does not do any pick ups.

Scotters is online now  
Jul 15th, 2005, 06:53 AM
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Glorialf: Sounds wonderful!!!
How did you find the boat/guide for a private tour? What was the cost? Where did you stop? Did you stop at hilltribe villages? Thanks.
kywood1955 is offline  
Jul 15th, 2005, 07:03 AM
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I did it many years ago and booked it through Diethelm Tours whom I also got a car and driver with. This was pre internet and they were one of the few local agencies that a tourist could easily book through. Now there are many others that specialize in northern thailand.

The price is meaningless since it was so long ago and part of a complete package. We stopped at a lot of villages -- I think the trip took us over 6 hours because of the amount of stops we made.
glorialf is offline  
Jul 15th, 2005, 07:13 AM
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I don't think a 4-5 hour ride on a long tail boat would be very comfortable. The diesel engines are VERY load and although there will be interesting things to see along the way, you might opt for a shorter trip either from Chiang Mai or preferably Chiang Rai. A tour might provide refreshments or you could bring your own. There are no bathrooms on these boats.
Craig is offline  
Jul 15th, 2005, 08:59 AM
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We had a great time. Stopped often to stretch our legs and see things. No it wasn't a luxury cruise but if I wanted that I wouldn't be going to asia. I'm not a "tour" person in that they take you to all the most touristy places.

And we brought food and even scotch on board if I recall and had cocktails while going along. Our luggage went by van to our hotel from the boat dock. It was the four of us and our guide on the boat. We had a blast!
glorialf is offline  
Jul 17th, 2005, 05:31 AM
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Scotters, I found what you said about catching the boat in the opposite direction very interesting. May I ask where along the river in Chiang Rai are these boats located? Just trying to figure out which boats to approach without having a visual of the area at the moment.


Clifton is offline  
Jul 17th, 2005, 08:01 AM
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There is only one boat pier and it is located 2.5kms from the town center. To get there just take a tuk-tuk or a samlor. This site shows a good map of the city:
http://www.thaiwaysmagazine.com/chia...g_rai_map.html If you look at the upper left, you will see the boat pier. We did this in 2003 and besides the three of us their was a young thai. He wanted to practice his english and acted as sort of a guide. We picked up one other person along the way. My son did the trip from Thaton last year and said it was nice but kind of uncomfortable. If he did it again he would hire a private boat.
Scotters is online now  
Jul 17th, 2005, 08:38 AM
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Thanks Scotters, that map is very useful. I'm not sure exactly how things are going to play out right now, but this sounded like a very interesting option. Even the private boat would be possible although I kind of like the idea of sharing too.

Thanks!
Clifton is offline  
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