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Golden Triangle, Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai??

Golden Triangle, Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai??

Old Mar 17th, 2003, 05:16 AM
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Golden Triangle, Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai??

Hi, for the first 3 or so nights of our honeymoon we plan to visit Northern Thailand (followed by two weeks in Koh Lanta and Koh Samui). However, we are torn between what part of north to go. We would really appreciate your thoughts/experiences with regard to the three destinations: Golden Triangle, Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai. As this is the first leg of our trip, shopping is really not a concern as we do not want to carry our goods around with us the rest of the trip. Your thoughts are appreciated.

In the Golden Triangle, I think we would stay at the Baan Boran (www.baanboran.com).
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Old Mar 17th, 2003, 01:30 PM
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We went to both Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai in December. While both were great, I would definitely pick Chiang Mai. Be sure to get Thai Massage at Royal Princess in basement. Doi Suthep is another must see.
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Old Mar 18th, 2003, 04:20 AM
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I'm becoming a little confused here. Although Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are fairly close together, is it worth it to stay at both for a couple of nights each? I get the impression that most of the elephant or boat trips out of Chiang Mai, actually go up to Chiang Rai area, so I'd think it would make sense to just do them from Chiang Rai, but if not doing that stuff from Chiang Mai is there still a reason to stay there as well?
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Old Mar 18th, 2003, 04:52 AM
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Yes, the area confuses me a bit too (and I have done searches on this site and have milked it for all its worth). Any comments on the Golden Triangle area (www.baanboran.com - the hotel we are contemplating staying at)? From what I understand this area is even more "authentic" than Chiang Mai or Rai.
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Old Mar 18th, 2003, 05:21 AM
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Patrick, we found it worthwhile to stay at both Chiang Mai (3 nights) and Chiang Rai (2 nights). There is an elephant/boat trip that you can take from Chiang Rai. You can also tour the Northernmost towns of Thailand, visit hilltribes and cross over into Myanmar and Laos if the geopolitical climate permits. There are elephant camps near Chiang Mai also and other attractions include Wat Doi Su Thep and several smaller wats within the city. Chiang Mai is a great place to shop especially at the night market and in the crafts villages on the outskirts. In town there are many restaurants where you can sample northern Thai cuisine.
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Old Mar 18th, 2003, 09:26 AM
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Thanks for the comments. I suspect that we will end up opting for a couple nights in Chiang Mai and a couple nights somewhere in the Golden Triangle, maybe not Chiang Rai. I'm not into shopping at all (my goal is to bring back nothing at all but memories!), but it does sound like an entertaining enough city to warrant a visit even if we hold off for the "elephant adventures" further north.
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Old Mar 18th, 2003, 11:25 AM
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Patrick, don't write off Chiang Rai as a good location to stay. We stayed at the Dusit Island Resort Hotel which was right on the Mae Kok River and a very convenient starting point for one of our tours. We took a very scenic 1/2 day long tail boat tour right from the hotel to an elephant "camp" and had a great ride with wonderful views of rice terraces in the Northern Thai countryside. Our other tour was for a full day by van and included visits to hill tribes, another boat ride and short visits to Laos and Myanmar.

Also, you should know that this elephant experience was completely different from the one we had at a camp outside of Chiang Mae where they had a show and a demonstration on how they washed the elephants in the river as well as elephant rides.

One other note--we had dinner at Cabbages and Condoms ("C&C") in Chiang Rae. Because the hotel did not allow tuk-tuks or taxis on the grounds, we took a rickshaw pulled by a Thai gentlemen wearing flip-flops and working his heart out for the $1 or so we paid him for the short ride into town. Quite an experience.
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Old Mar 19th, 2003, 05:23 AM
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Yes, but how about the Golden Triangle itself. Does the GT encompass Chiang Rai?
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Old Mar 19th, 2003, 05:45 AM
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The Golden Triangle is the area where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet. It does not include Chiang Rai. However, Chiang Rai is close enough that the area can be visited on a day trip. There is actually not much in the area of the Golden Triangle--opium museum in Sop Ruak, and the Baan Boran resort. However there is much to see in the area from Chiang Rai to and along the Thai border including Hill Tribe villages and the towns of Mae Sa and Chiang Saen. We crossed into Myanmar from Mae Sa. We also took a boat ride from Sop Ruak to Chiang Saen, stopping at a village in Laos along the way.
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