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HELP! Is Chang Mai worth changing trip plans for?

HELP! Is Chang Mai worth changing trip plans for?

Dec 12th, 2008, 08:49 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 16
HELP! Is Chang Mai worth changing trip plans for?

Hey guys! I just got my SE Asia on a shoestring book and am really getting a good vibe for the different places I will be going on my Asian trek. The info about Chang Mai though really called to me, saying it was this quiet moat town, with lots of art and indigenous culture. My plan was just to go from Bangkok and make my way into Cambodia and Vietnam from there, before flying from Saigon to Phuket, but I would miss Northern Thailand.

In your opinions, is it worth venturing North first and perhaps flying from Chang Mai into Cambodia, or was it miss-able? I know this is all POV but I am curious.

Also, about how long is the trip from Bangkok to Chang Mai? Perhaps I could take it and then return again on bus/train and do Cambodia/Vietnam as planned.

Thanks guys!
Inplaster is offline  
Dec 12th, 2008, 09:22 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,995
IMO, I wouldn't change my plans for CM.

"quiet moat town"? It's the second largest city in Thailand. It is the definition of urban sprawl. There is no public transportation system like there is in Bangkok, so getting around can be awkward and expensive. If you want to go shopping (other than places you can walk to from where you are staying), for instance, you pretty much need a car and driver. The air pollution is worse than Bangkok, with lots of particulates in the air, as they burn their trash.

The one thing really worth seeing near CM is Doi Suthep. The night market is full of cheap gee-gaws, and the Sunday walking market is only slightly better. The so-called craft villages are just factories, and were just factories when I first visited over 20 years ago.

If you are really interested in elephants, the Thai Elephant Conservation Center outside of CM may be worth the trip.

The flight from Bangkok to CM is an hour; the train is something like 8 hours.

Obviously, I'm not fond of CM. Some people are.
Kathie is offline  
Dec 12th, 2008, 10:03 PM
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Posts: 8
agree w/ Kathie

skip Chang Mai.

if you have time, fly Air Asia to Luang Prabang. Beautiful city.
kim_Lee is offline  
Dec 13th, 2008, 02:50 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,605
IMO Chiang Mai is definitely not worth the diversion. There are many far more interesting places in SEA to see. You really should consider Laos it is a fascinating, laid back country with probably the friendliest people in the region, as Kim-Lee suggest Luang Prabang is well worth a visit but I particularly like the far north around Luang Namtha & Muang Sing etc - great trekking through the villages.
crellston is offline  
Dec 13th, 2008, 04:03 AM
Join Date: Aug 2007
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Given a choice of Phuket or Chiang Mai I would skip Phuket!

I have been to Chiang Mai three times in the past 5 years. I don't care for beaches and think it is silly to fly thousands of miles just to sit at a beach.

From Bangkok you can take an overnight sleeper train to Chiang Mai. This will save you from paying for another hotel in Bangkok. For me, Chiang Mai was cheaper than Phuket and easier to get to. For me, local transportation was cheaper in Chiang Mai than Phuket.

In Chiang Mai I used the Montri Hotel which is right across the street from the Thapae Gate. The Montri has rooms in various price ranges, all with air. Easy walk to internet shops, Seven Eleven stores, restaurants and short walk to the night market.

Like Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya travel agencies can book tours for you. From Chiang Mai you can take a tour to Chiang Rai for the Golden Triangle area, visit elephants, go rafting or other treks.


You can book a room with a phone call from Bangkok. Ask for discounts.


Up to you!

Good luck.
SirHalberd is offline  
Dec 13th, 2008, 04:46 AM
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Posts: 6,664
Skip Chiang Mai.

What month are you going? The weather is dramatically different depending on which beach and which month. The rainy season shifts from the West coast of Thailand to the east coast in October. Check out weatherbase.com for more info.
Gpanda is offline  
Dec 13th, 2008, 05:05 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
I'll agree with most of the others. Skip CM this time (if you love Thailand like the rest of us, you'll go back... and THEN you can plan on CM).

Have fun!
simpsonc510 is offline  
Dec 13th, 2008, 07:00 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 48
Wow, I'm surprised to hear all the negatives about CM. We spent several days there on a trip arouond the world several years ago and found it to be one of the highlights of our journey. The city was interesting, an escorted day trip up to the Golden Triangle, a short visit across the river to Laos was great. It certainly was more friendly and cleaner than Bangkok. Good luck.
jrretired is offline  
Dec 13th, 2008, 07:03 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,459
Skip CM! I didn`t find it appealing at all. Like Kathie says, the pollution is bad. Also, did the train ride between CM and Bangkok and thought I was going to die, due to breathing in the fumes from the train. Also nothing to see from the train.
pat is offline  
Dec 13th, 2008, 07:51 AM
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I was in Changmai in Dec 1998/Jan 1999 and it wasn't a quiet, moat town then. I had planned about a week there, but when I got there did all I needed to do in about 3-4 days and then flew on to Bangkok and added the days to Bangkok.
Although I had a Thai friend in Changmai, I stayed in a hotel and she picked me up daily, in her truck, and we went around. I also went out to her house, on the outskirts of Changmai.
It's not easy to get around there. One must taxi everywhere. It would have been a bit difficult without her. She and I went all over the place in her truck. She was born there and knew every corner of it.
I'm glad I went though as I flew from Singapore directly to Changmai, so Changmai was my first impression of Thailand. I was on a 3-week solo trip from L.A.-Singapore-Bali-Changmai-Bangkok .

In the 10 years of going to Thailand, I haven't been back to Changmai. If my friend, Doi Suthep and some other temples hadn't been there, then I really wouldn't have needed to go to Changmai. Doi Suthep is absolutely wonderful. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Dec 13th, 2008, 02:15 PM
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I agree with everyone else about skipping Chiang Mai. Vietnam and Cambodia much much better.
williamscb13 is offline  
Dec 13th, 2008, 06:16 PM
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lets not paint a totally negetive CM picture....many love it....

and there is a moat and wall around part of the old part of town...and a few gates through it...
rhkkmk is offline  
Dec 13th, 2008, 07:40 PM
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LOL, Bob, I can't believe you're defending CM!
Kathie is offline  
Dec 13th, 2008, 08:05 PM
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Posts: 1,418
I like CM okay (like Chiang Rai better), but what would you be giving up to go there?

I would certainly give up Phuket to go to CM, but not any of the other places on your itinerary.
offwego is offline  
Dec 13th, 2008, 09:43 PM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 8
I definitely skip Chang Mai. It's a nice little town, but there's not much to do. Doi Sut Thep? I find it so so. As for temples, there are places such as Sukho Thai, Ayathuya . . . and a few others much more interesting.

I would fly to Luang Prabang and from there, continue the trip either to (1) Hanoi (to visit Ha Long Bay), Hoi An . . . or (2) to Siem Reap, Cambodia and then to Vietnam.
kim_Lee is offline  
Dec 14th, 2008, 02:38 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,009
Heaven help me, I agree with Bob.

I like Chiang Mai because it's a great-looking city. Except for a few spots, Bangkok is a fundamentally ugly city with relatively nondescript architecture. Chiang Mai, on the other hand, has many more treats for the eye.
DonTopaz is offline  
Dec 14th, 2008, 11:42 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 4,466
I liked Chiang Mai too!! but as Ofwego says what are you giving us cause that will shape the answers..
Smeagol is offline  
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