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Comment please re stops during drive from Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong

Comment please re stops during drive from Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong

Apr 17th, 2015, 08:40 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 301
Comment please re stops during drive from Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong

In November, we will spend one day with a hired car/guide traveling one way from Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong (to then board a slow boat). On the way, we would like to stop in a few places. We would like to be in Chiang Khong around 6 pm, before it gets dark.

I am considering stopping, time allowing at the Black House, Wat Phrathat Doi Chomthong, Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Saen, a tea plantation and potentially other places of interest to us (maybe a detour to Mae Salong and Doi Tung Royal Villa).

Google shows a 4 hour drive time (non-stop) if one takes the detour to Mae Salong and Doi Tung. If I know correctly, the Black House opens at 9 am (please confirm if you know). So assuming an 8:30 am departure, would the above (including the detour) be too much for the planned drive?

Suzanna is offline  
Apr 17th, 2015, 08:59 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Google is pretty clueless about drive times in SE Asia. I think you have too much you are trying to see in that day. I do think a stop in Chiang Sean is worthwhile - there are some interesting ruins there as well as a nice museum. There is a Wat Chedi Luang in CM... I don't see one in Chiang Sean. Wat Phrathat Doi Chomthong in CR is worth a brief stop.

We very much enjoyed our day trip to Doi Tung, but we were coming from the Anantara at the Golden Triangle. It would be a long drive from CM. The gardens there are lovely and we enjoyed learning about the Queen Mother's economic development projects in the area.

This isn't really tea country. I do remember seeing a small tea field in our forays in the Golden Triangle area, and there is a coffee plantation in conjunction with Doi Tung, but these are not worth a special trip.

Sorry, I can't help with the Black House. But I assume if you are going there, you plan to stop at the White Temple. Not my favorite, but many people love it.
Kathie is online now  
Apr 17th, 2015, 04:18 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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We visited both the Blacl House and White Temple in March. Both were interesting but I preferred the Black house ( opens 9-5 wand closes for an hour at lunch time). Both are virtually in CR can be visited easily from there.

We spent a night in Mae Salong - would have been longer but for the smoke which made hiking impossible and spoilt the views. The drive is pleasnt with nice views ( apart from said smoke) and took around 2.5 hours with no traffic.
crellston is offline  
Apr 18th, 2015, 02:21 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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My sense is that there is too much for one day as well, though I couldn't give you a time frame for the drive. We were in Chiang Rai and Mae Salong (stayed a night) last year, and saw several of the sights that you're mentioning, but did this over several days.

We also saw the Black House and White Temple, and, like crellston, much preferred the Black House. They are 2 very different experiences -- the White Temple is a popular sight, crowds of tourist busses there. It's interesting, but we both loved the Black House, which is a much more extensive site and nowhere near as busy with tourists.

On our way to Mae Salong, we stopped at the 101 Tea Plantation, which was planted as part of the gov't movement to replace opium fields and reduce drug trade in this region. It's a beautiful spot and we attended a tea tasting, which was a lot of fun with great tea. This is a region that was settled by the nationalist Chinese who fled China after the communist takeover. Loved this stop - it was a highlight for us.

We slept that night in Mae Salong, then stopped at the Doi Tung Royal gardens (didn't go to the Villa), which was a lovely spot, and we were the rare Caucasian visiters at the time. We're not huge garden fans, but this was lovely and worth a stop.

After that, we did stop at the 2 opium museums in the region on our way to a stop at the Golden Triangle. We much preferred the smaller Opium Museum to the larger, glitzier Hall of Opium, near the Golden Triangle viewing stop. We really appreciated stopping at the Golden Triangle -- I know that many find it dull or touristy, but there's something about standing at the intersection of Thailand, Myanmar/Burma and Laos that moved us.

After that, we stopped in Chiang Saen, and toured the various ruins of the ancient city. There was a fair amount of scaffolding around the Wat Chedi Luang site, so it was a bit hard to fully enjoy the place. It was an interesting stop, but one that I could've easily missed.

Even from here, the drive to Chiang Khong took a fair amount of time. We stayed in the comfortable Teak Garden hotel, overlooking the Mekong. We ended up eating across the street from the hotel at an all-you-can eat barbecue, which was very local and huge fun.

Hope this helps!
progol is offline  
Apr 18th, 2015, 07:20 AM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 48
I've driven all over this area as a self-drive, and Google definitely is a bit optimistic on some of their timings. All the tea is around Mae Salong and you have no time to go there, it's in the wrong direction and the access road characteristics don't favor fast driving. So scratch that off the 1-day driving plan. If you start at 08:00, you can do in the following order and spend a suitable time at each stop: 1) Chomthong, 2) Black House (skip White Temple), 3) Doi Tung Villa and Gardens (very worthwhile), 4) brief snack/lunch around 13:30, 5) Chiang Saen area (maybe about 90 minutes total for your choice of Chedi Luang, small Opium Museum--agree with progol above on that--photos by the Golden Triangle sign, etc.), 6) drive to Chiang Khong, arriving around 18:00 or just after.
kvchina is offline  
Apr 18th, 2015, 07:38 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 8,713
By "slow boat" do you mean one of the boats that leaves from Huay Xai, across the river? If so, the times I've done it I've stayed the night before in Huay Xai rather than Chiang Khong. Depending on departure time, there are immigration formalities on the Lao side before you can board and best to be there early for other reasons as well. If you're boarding on the Thai side, no problem, obviously.
MmePerdu is online now  

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