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Please help with our Northern Thailand itinerary

Please help with our Northern Thailand itinerary

Apr 14th, 2006, 08:47 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 77
Please help with our Northern Thailand itinerary

Hi. We have all our flights, our first 3 days in Bangkok & last 15 days in Krabi/Phuket planned, but I am stumped as to what to do in Northern Thailand.

My original idea was to have 4 nights in Chiang Mai then fly to Mae Hong Son for 3 mights @ Fern Resort before returning to CM by road and staying overnight before flying South. Now I am wondering if it is worth the effort to go to Mae Hong Son. What will I miss if we don;t go? Is there an alternative not so far from Chaing Mai? I would particularly like to visit the Karen Long Neck tribes & see some beautiful scenery. Maybe we should fly both direction??

Please give me some ideas & opinions.

Thanks in advance

nzers is offline  
Apr 15th, 2006, 05:13 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,237
I can't imagine spending only three days in Bangkok and 15 in Krabi/Phuket, but I'm not a major beach person so maybe that's why. If you have that much time, though, Bangkok is definitely worth more days. Personally, I'd stay 5 in BKK, cut the south to 5-7 and take the remaining days and go somewhere else, such as Siem Reap. But I realize that wasn't your question! (Sometimes we Fodorites over-achieve.)

As for the north, I love your itinerary. We had 2 nights in Mae Hong Son (did it first) followed by 4 in Chiang Mai - and my only complaint was our time in Mae Hong Son seemed a bit rushed. Even so, I LOVED those 6 days of our trip. Four nights were perfect for us for Chiang Mai - we spend a day in town on our own, a day with one of Sergeant Kai's guides bamboo rafting and trekking to an untouristy hilltribe camp, and a day with Sergeant Kai himself visiting the Elephant Conservation Center near Lampang, plus Doi Suthep. Every day was wonderful. In Mae Hong Son, we spent a full day with a driver visiting a Karen long neck tribe (fabulous) and the rest of the day driving around (a lot of driving) and making several other stops. Our other 3/4 of a day was spent hiking near Fern Resort followed by time in town. Loved Fern Resort. And loved Baan Orapin in Chiang Mai. Would strongly recommend you read the Mae Hong Son and Chiang Mai sections of my trip report. They give a full description of our time in both places and might help you decide. (You'll need to scroll well down into the thread past the Bangkok portions to find northern Thailand.) Here's the link:


And here's the link to my photos (northern Thailand is in its own album and so labeled) -


Good luck - you'll love Thailand!
althom1122 is offline  
Apr 15th, 2006, 08:20 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I think your time in the north is just fine. While you could always spend more time anywhere, that will give you enough time to sample without feeling too rushed.

I do agree with Karen that you don't have nearly enough time in Bangkok. There is so much to see and do there, that in three days you'll barely scratch the surface. Perhaps you are divers and that why you want so much time at the beach. If not, do reconsider your beach time. Two weeks at a beach is a long time, especially when there are so many fabulous and fascinating destinations right outside your door (ok, a short plane flight away).
Kathie is online now  
Apr 15th, 2006, 01:50 PM
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Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 77
Thank you so much for your replies.

I have really enjoyed reading your diary Karen - what a fabulous holiday you had. I will email Sargeant Kai & book him for one of our day trips.

I should clarify that we are travelling with our children (10 & 7yrs) and have been to Bangkok before (sorry, should have mentioned that).

Our decision to spend so long in Krabi/Phuket is that we have been there before also, and know how much we enjoyed staying put for longer than a week with the kids - and it is also much cheaper than a fortnight in Fiji!

Anyway, I have been reading more about Chiang Rai - maybe this is an option? There is a place called the Meakok River Village Resort in Lampang (about 1.5hrs from CR) which looks OK. Does anyone know if this area is a good base or are we crazy to miss Mae Hong Son? It is very difficult to know when you have no experience...

Please advise :-}

nzers is offline  
Apr 15th, 2006, 03:12 PM
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Sorry, that should have been Ban Thaton not Lampang - getting myself really confused these days.

nzers is offline  
Apr 15th, 2006, 08:15 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Thaton is a nice laid back town with some good mid level accommodations and worth a day/night just to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. Most people do not stay here but arrive from Chiang Mai to take the boat for the 4hr trip up to Chiang Rai. Conversely you can take the boat from Chiang Rai and in my opinion and experience the better option. The reason is 95% of the people riding the boats start in Thaton leaving a lot of empty boats going in the opposite direction. The boats depart Chiang Rai at 10:30 am arriving in Thaton about 2 pm. This way you miss the heat of the day and you may be the only one in the boat. This means you can stretch out and relax while enjoying the beautiful scenery along the river. Local hill tribe people who live along the river also take this boat as it will stop for them if they wave it down, so you could have some locals and their goods keeping you company. The boats hold 12 people and you sit sideways with your legs crossed for the entire trip - not exactly a real comfortable mode of boat travel but the landscape makes it worthwhile. Cost 2 years ago was 250 baht but might have increased. Alternatively, you could charter your own longtail boat from CR and make stops at villages and interesting points along the way.

I can't give you any information on the Maekok River Village Resort as I have not stayed there. I was at the Thaton River View Resort which while basic, was very nice and rooms spotless and 1/2 the price of the other. But the Maekok looks lovely.

I might suggest the you skip MHS and fly directly from Bangkok to Chiang Rai. Stay a few days, hire a car/driver for a tour of the Golden Triangle and then take the boat to Thaton and say at the Maekok for 1 night or 2 if you really like it. Then take a bus or hire a taxi to Chiang Mai about a 4+hr trip.

Scotters is offline  
Apr 16th, 2006, 01:51 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 77
Thank you Scotters for your informative reply. I hadn't thought about the option of the boat trip in reverse - I will certainly consider it.

Yes, I had come to the conclusion today the MHS portion of our trip was creating issues & maybe it was best left for another day.

Do you know if the Thaton area is Malarial. The guy at Meakok River Village advises me that it is very rare - is this true?

Also, if we come from Chiang Mai, is it easy to hire a driver to take us to Ban Thaton via the Chiang Dao caves and other interesting sites along the way? What would the cost of a driver/car be?

Thanks for your assistance.

nzers is offline  
Apr 16th, 2006, 02:01 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 5
If you interested to go to thaton , possible and easy to hire a car+driver to go and you can stop along the way but if you want to get more idea or information lets check at www.chiangmaitic.com so many inform,
mind is offline  
Apr 16th, 2006, 04:29 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,237
I'm pretty sure you could use Sergeant Kai to take you to Thaton. If you're going to contact him anyway, you might want to ask him about it.
althom1122 is offline  
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