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Mountain/ Village/ Landscape Tours Northern Thailand

Mountain/ Village/ Landscape Tours Northern Thailand

Old Sep 1st, 2017, 10:35 PM
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Mountain/ Village/ Landscape Tours Northern Thailand

I've read this very handy thread from 2012 already, but obviously 5 years on, I realise things may have changed, not least which companies / guides are operating in the region, and offering the best options. http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...mment-10066653

I have 7 nights in Northern Thailand already booked, including internal flights -- we fly into Chiang Rai and out of Chiang Mai. Originally, I figured 3 nights in CR, 1 night somewhere in between and 3 nights in CM. However, I'm not sure whether that single nighter on the way is worthwhile or I'm better with 3 nights in CR and 4 in CM.

What I'm interested in is a mix of seeing the beauty of the natural landscapes (whether that's specifically visiting National Parks or simply driving through the region), and also potentially in visiting some of the minority villages of the region. However, I am not capable of trekking, and from what I read, the villages one can reach via road / short walks have become very tourist-oriented.

I guess it's a question mark as to whether it's still worthwhile visiting some of those tourist-oriented villages? I assume one would still get some insight into what the cultures and lives of those peoples, even if that village is no longer living that life authentically? I'm thinking of positive experiences I've had in Kenya where the Masai villages we have visited do still live the traditional life, but they also make a small part of their living from welcoming tourists and showcasing their culture as well. I was able to sit with a group of women making some beaded pieces, and the one lady who spoke English translated some basic chat between myself and the group, which I enjoyed.

But when I read comments that compare some of the villages to zoos, of course, that does not appeal at all.

What about taking a full day excursion from CR to CM, with some sightseeing on the way?

Does anyone know a company that might offer this, and does anyone have suggestions on what the itinerary could be?

Or are we best doing a day trip out of either CR or CM?

Suggestions and feedback welcome, as well as recommendations for specific operators or guides. I had already found and bookmarked the Thailand Hilltribe website before reading that 2012 thread, looks like they are one of the more knowledgable operators in the region?
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Old Sep 7th, 2017, 04:44 AM
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Bump!
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Old Sep 7th, 2017, 10:44 AM
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I didn't respond to this previously because I thought my opinions were pretty clear in the post you linked to. No, it is not worth visiting the minority people's villages anywhere close to Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai. To find anywhere living the life of years gone by, you would have to get way off the tracks.


Some of the villages are indeed zoos, the inhabitants being effectively controlled by some not very pleasant people. Some will now charge entrance fees, some will engage in aggressive sales tactics. Many are indeed "human zoos" . This is big business and I doubt the people themselves are the ones reaping the rewards. Unless you are ok with supporting such exploitation, I would avoid.

As mentioned previously, Mai Hong Sorn or Soppong would be a better bet. Fern Resort or Soppong River Inn would be a good place to start. In fact, as I suggested on that thread, have you considered doing all or part of the MHS loop? It would seem to have most of what you are seeking, if you have time.

I would spend at least a day in CM exploring the temples. A trip to Doi Suthep overlooking the city takes only a couple of hours but could be combined with Doi Inthanon NP.

In Chiang Rai, the White Temple, The Black House and the Saturday walking market are definitely worth seeing. There are some photos on our blog of the temple and house so you can see if it is your sort of thing https://accidentalnomads.com/2015/10...ack-and-white/

Chiang Dao has some great scenery, cave temples etc. As does Mae Salong up in the mountainous tea country towards the Myanmar border, which is a few hours drive north from CR.

The best places to encounter easily accessible minority people, as Air mentioned in that previus thread, is in Sopppng and MHS where the people still frequent the local markets. Both of which have a lot going for them.
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Old Sep 7th, 2017, 12:11 PM
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Thanks Crellston, appreciated. I figured that some of the specific tour companies, guides or even villages to visit may have changed in the intervening time, so wanted to get updated. And indeed, not wanting to go to a human zoo, hence trying to work out best options.

Trekking far off the main roads is not an option for me, I don't have the mobility to do even an hour of hiking... so it's working out what whether I can realistically reach anywhere worth visiting, village-wise.

I need read up more about the MHS loop, to see whether we would do this... if you know of any threads exploring in more detail, please shout, I'll do a Search again too.

<3

THANK YOU
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Old Sep 7th, 2017, 12:12 PM
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And whole blog bookmarked, will be reading through ALL Thailand posts!
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Old Sep 7th, 2017, 10:02 PM
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Aah, there is only that one!
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Old Sep 7th, 2017, 10:29 PM
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Sorry, we have been remiss in blogging re Thailand! Here is a link to our TR of the MHS loop from a few years ago - http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...n-thailand.cfm

Also, we found these driving guides excellent https://www.budget.co.th/WorldClassDrive.aspx easy to download the PDF for the MHS loop and it is really all you need.

MHS has, or did have a couple of years ago, a really excellent and authentic night market with lots of food stalls offering, minority people's food that you don't see elsewhere in Thailand. Soppong has one of the few authentic morning markets left in the country where you can get to meet the people as they come down from the hills to sell their produce.

Pai, is the first stop on the loop but is now a bit of a hippy enclave which I would bypass ( my hippie days are long gone!)
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Old Sep 8th, 2017, 10:38 AM
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Fantastic, thank you so much! I've found some good online resources on that loop and another one that's nearer to chiang rai, so need to have a really deep look and think!
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Old Oct 4th, 2017, 05:54 AM
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Looks like thailandhilltribeholidays don't have availability of a guide on my first choice dates. Can anyone recommend any other guide / tour operators in the area that they have personally used, and who may be able to organise customised tours in both Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai regions?
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Old Jan 26th, 2018, 06:01 AM
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I'll be sharing more detail over coming weeks but just wanted to add a note to this post now we're back.
We booked a private 2 day 1 night trip with Local Alike which we were very happy with, and would happily recommend them.
Initial email correspondence was painful, not quite like pulling teeth but it felt like it, however the excursion itself was outstanding!
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Old Jan 27th, 2018, 06:38 AM
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we just finished two days with chirachote Phumisitpong (Sutis) who took us from Chiang Rai one day up to the Golden Triangle through back roads, and today drove us from CR to CM. We had arranged an itinerary ahead of time, changed it as we went as we got more in touch with what we wanted to do. He was great, helpful, accomodating and interesting. you can reach him at [email protected]
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Old Jan 27th, 2018, 06:39 AM
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ps I'll finish writing about todays adventrues tomorrow morning on my trip report if you want to read more about it
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