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Help with Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai itinerary

Help with Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai itinerary

Jan 9th, 2007, 07:09 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 144
Help with Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai itinerary

I need help in determining if this makes sense. We have been recommended by a travel agent to do the following after spending 3 days in Bangkok (and before heading south):

- Fly from Bangkok to Chiang Rai for two nights.
- Fly from Chiang Rai to Mae Hong Son for two nights
- Fly from Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai for three nights.

Is it necessary to fly between all these points? Is there a better way to get around (driving ourselves? other form of transportation?). I am not sure of distances between the areas but it sounds like a lot of short flights to hop around the region when we could be experiencing the sights on the ground.
Also not sure about Mae Hong Son and if it is a good destination or if we should just stick to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai?

Thanks for any feedback as we are getting a little confused with this schedule.
Gabi7 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 07:19 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,929
it is a lot of moving around...the drive from CM to CR s about 3 hours..

driving north of CR is very easy, but i have not done the other areas..

2 days in each place really means 1.5 after transport, so not sure it is worth it...i did four north of CR and found that just about right...

depends on what you want to do on your holiday???
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 07:29 AM
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I think it is too much moving around. Some people do that loop with a car and driver, I think that would be better if you really want to go to all three places (otherwise you'll spend way too much time in airports).

If it were me, I'd choose two of those places. Decide what you are really interested in doing/seeing/experiencing in the north. This may help you decide whether you are going to the right places and how long you should stay.
Kathie is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 09:38 AM
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Agree with Kathie elininate one place either Chiang Rai or Mae Hong Son. As far as I know there are no flights from Chiang Rai to MHS only from CM and no flights between CR and CM.
Scotters is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 12:28 PM
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Thanks for the feedback -- I continue to get more confused as I'm not sure which area would be best to cut out.

If we fly into Chiang Rai from Bangkok, can we drive to Chiang Mai or Mae Hong Son or are the distances too great? What form of transportation would be best to see the area and still not hop around too much?
Gabi7 is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 03:17 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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if you fly to Chiang Rai from Bangkok, I think driving to Chiang Mai would be nice. The country is worth seeing from a car or bus. I wouldn't skip Chiang Mai though. Lots to see and do there...
copaiba is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 04:05 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Haven't been to Chiang Rai but have been to the other two and both are different and worthwhile. Would have to agree with the others and choose two of the three (CM and one other). We spent four nights in CM and thought it was just right; two in MHS and thought it was a bit rushed. Four and three would have been nice.
althom1122 is offline  
Jan 17th, 2007, 06:36 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 159
We drove the Mae Hong Son Loop from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son then back to CM, stopping in Doi Inthanon National Park. We did it in 2 nights (one night in Pai, one night in Mae Hong Son) and 2.5 days - not a bad pace, although a little rushed.

It was an amazing trip and I highly recommend it, although I haven't been to Chiang Rai, so I can't compare. You see a lot of the country side - great stops at hot springs, parks, caves, small towns, etc. You definitely need to be an adventurous driver in that it's a twisty, curvy road, driving on the wrong side with unexpected obstacles like wandering cows and overloaded cabbage trucks, but definitely worthwhile!

Here's the guide we used: http://www.budget.co.th/pdfs/worldclass_mae_eng.pdf

Enjoy your trip! Cheers, Carrie
DoctorCarrie is offline  
Jan 29th, 2007, 12:38 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
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I just returned from Thailand yesterday and am in the process of putting together a trip report, but wanted to reply to you first to encourage you to drive. One of the highlights of our trip was the drive from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai. Like the prior posting, we used one of Budget's World Class Drives (but in reverse and with a few modifications...the guide is for Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai.) http://www.asiatours.net/thailand/budget/goldentr.pdf

We flew into Chiang Rai and then drove about 40 minutes to Chiang Saen to spend the night. I would not recommend staying in Chiang Saen as there is very little to do, but Sop Ruak is only a few minutes further and seemed like a better place to stay.

The next day we drove from Chiang Saen, stopped in Sop Ruak to visit the Opium Exhibition Hall, then continued to Mai Sai for lunch and some shopping. We continued to Doi Tung and the Royal Arboretum. We arrived in Mae Salong around 5pm for the night and stayed at the Kum Nai Phol Resort in a bungalow. This was one of our favorite cities in Thailand. It was absolutely beautiful. This part of the drive was pretty difficult as there are some incredibly steep inclines and sharp curves, but the views were amazing.

The next morning we visited some of the tea shops in Mae Salong and then stopped in Chiang Dao for lunch. We ended up taking the short cut shown on the driving guide since we weren't feeling well and the short cut was not very scenic, but I can only imagine that the drive without the shortcut would have been as beautiful as the first part. We visited the caves in Chiang Dao, but thought it was a waste of time, and arrived at our hotel in Chiang Mai around 2pm and stayed in Chiang Mai for three nights.

If you are feeling adventurous, I would highly encourage you to drive the route in the Budget guide. We enjoyed this drive so much, the drive was as much a part of trip as the cities we visited en route. The pacing we used was perfect for us, but I know many people would prefer to take it slower. I think the trip we took could be broken up by spending the night in Mai Sai before heading to Mae Salong.

However, the shortcut from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai is also shown on the guide and seems to be a much easier (and shorter) route, though not as scenic.

While in Chiang Mai I would highly recommed taking a cooking class at Kao Hom (www.kaohom.com) We had a private class in the evening and it was one of the best things we did in Chiang Mai.
vegggiegirl is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2007, 06:36 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 195

Thanks so much for the link to the Budget guide!

I hadn't even thought of renting a car! Since I am on a tight budget, can you give me some idea of the cost for doing a trip like this on my own? Inexpensive lodgings and food options, etc..?

We plan to be in Chiang Mai area for about a week, and my mother really wants to visit the Mae Hong Son area, but budget is tight and I told her I didn't think we could afford it, but maybe we can by driving ourselves!

zengeos is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2007, 07:34 AM
Join Date: May 2004
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We used Budget to drive the MHS loop a couple of years ago and would thoroughly recommend it. As previous posters have commented, the scenery is spectacular and apart from the Chiang Mai vicinity, there is little traffic on the roads. There are however, lots (allegedly 600+) of hairpin bends. Having said that, I found the driving easy and enjoyable, although being Thailand, the driving is on the left (at least most of the time!), which is not so much of a problem for those of us from the UK.

Our route was CM/ Mai Sariang/MHS/Pai/CM

Apart from the Fern Resort, where we stayed over the New Year period, we just turned up and found somewhere we liked at each town (one of the many advantages of driving yourself). There is a good range of accommodation in each location both expensive and inexpensive. If you want to splash out then I suggest you do it at the Fern Resort or the Belle Villa which are both superb locations. I the rack rates are about 1500 baht for the Belle Villa ($45), but you could probably negotiate

The trip took us 6 nights which would probably fit with your itinerary if you missed out Chiang Rai.
crellston is offline  

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