Most Charming City in the North

Old Mar 11th, 2016, 09:31 AM
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Most Charming City in the North

My family and I are traveling to Thailand this upcoming December and are looking to spend four to five days of our 2 week trip in the northern region of the country. We have looked into Ching Mai although I fear it will be to busy in December and we are really trying to avoid a big and busy city atmosphere and instead find a town with more cultural charm and laid back atmosphere that is not as touristy as Chiang Mai. We would like to find a city with easy access to great hikes and trekking as well as maybe some agricultural fields to walk through. We would love to see some Buddhist Temples and buildings with Thai architecture. We would also love to visit a good elephant sanctuary or a place where we could elephant trek and would also love to find a place where we could day trip to and explore some hill tribe villages. I am hoping to find a city that has still kept some of its charm and is not over run with tourism so my family and I can witness some authentic thai culture (or at least as close as we can get to it). We have looked into visiting Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Pai, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Sean, Mae Salong, and Mae Sai... it is just hard for me to get a feel for what city would suit us best. We are open to all of these places and any new suggestions as well!
Thanks!
graceeo is offline  
Old Mar 11th, 2016, 10:38 AM
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I fear no one location is going to provide all you seek. "Hill tribe villages" that are not exploitative and turned into human zoos for tourists are increasingly hard to find without very long hikes into the countryside. One place that immediately springs to mind is Mae Hong Son although even there the increase in tourism is showing itself in the tacky souvenirs sold in the night market in town. However it is probably your best bet. http://fernresort.info has links with community based tourism organisations and can arrange hike to minority people villages. There are also some nice hikes direct from the property accompanied by their "guide dogs". Some nice temples there

A little further along is Soppong which has caves to visit and some decent hiking in the countryside. Lots of minority people's frequent the town market as they bring their produce there from the surrounding villages.. Soppong River Inn is a great place to stay with fantastic home cooked food. You could always rent a car and drive the full Mai Hong Son loop which takes 3-5 days see https://www.budget.co.th/WorldClassDrive.aspx for details.

North of CM Chiang Dao is worth considering for the countryside and scenery http://www.chiangdaonest.com and could easily be combined with a couple of days in CM.


I prefer Chiang Rai to CM. It has a wonderful Saturday walking market, far more authentic than CMs. The Black House and White Temple are definitely worth a visit but elsewhere in that area Mai Sai and Mai sSalong are a tad disappointing and a long drive from CR. The Black House and White Temple are somewhat wacky examples of modern Thai architecture / art and definitely worth a look some photos on our blog http://accidentalnomads.com/2015/10/...ack-and-white/

Lots of options!
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Old Mar 11th, 2016, 10:44 AM
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Good advice from crellston. Note that there are no places that offer elephant treks that treat their elephants well. Only two places I'd recommend for interacting with elephants: The Elephant Nature Park and Th Thai Elephants Conservation Center.
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Old Mar 11th, 2016, 06:17 PM
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Thank you for the advice Crellston! Kathie, any suggestions on an elephant sanctuary near Mae Hong Son? We would love to interact with elephants but not in a place that harms them or practices animal abuse.
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Old Mar 12th, 2016, 12:27 AM
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we saw a few elephant places around MHS and Pai none of which i would be happy using. i don't know if you are heading to the south of the country at all (Khao Lak, Khao Sok NP, Phuket etc.)but this place gets good reviews and see to treat their animals well http://www.elephanthills.com/our-uni...nt-experience/

i have met a few people who have been but would stress i have no personal experience.
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