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Trip report-Thailand and Singapore, Part I

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Nov 29th, 2012, 02:04 PM
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Trip report-Thailand and Singapore, Part I

First of all, I want to thank all my Fodorite buddies, without whom I could not have planned this trip and have it go so smoothly! Your information, encouragement and patience were superb. We met Bob and Karen in Bangkok and that was a pleasure.

Let me post our itinerary here and flesh out the details when we are more awake, as we just returned yesterday.

On Nov. 6th, we flew United to Bangkok and Thai Air to Chiang Mai. Even though we had a long layover in Bangkok, we decided to stay in the airport and it worked out well. We ate, had massages, napped some, etc. and the time flew by.

Chiang Mai-5 nights at Baan Orapin, a lovely location, excellent rooms, food and service.

Nov. 13th, we flew from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son and stayed at Fern Resort for 2 nights. What a beautiful resort. Could have spent more time there.

Met our guide, Mr. Charlie, driver and 11 seater van for the 4 of us. Could not have been better. Spent the next 6 days with him, then one day with another guide (would not recommend him) and 1 day with a great driver recommended by Mr. Charlie.

Nov. 15th, stayed at Soppong River Inn for one night.

Nov. 16th, stayed at Baan Rai Lanna Resort in Mae Taeng for one night-gorgeous.

Nov. 17th, stayed at Little Home in Mae Salong for one night. Too noisy, but great location.

Nov. 18th-Baan Soontree in Chiang Rai for 3 nights - great.

Nov. 21st-flew from Chiang Rai to Bangkok and stayed at Evergreen Place-mostly good. Had Ratt as our driver for 2 of the days.

Nov. 24th-flew to Singapore and stayed at the Marriott for 3 nights. Lovely, good location, very expensive (but had points for two nights).

More to follow soon!
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Nov 29th, 2012, 05:01 PM
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Glad you had a good trip Virginia!
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Nov 29th, 2012, 08:25 PM
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I'm glad it all worked out for you. I look forward to reading more.
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Nov 29th, 2012, 08:52 PM
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Baan Rai Lanna...now *there* is a place I haven't heard mentioned in a LONG time!

We stayed there on our very first trip to Asia in 2006, shortly after an expat Brit named Scott had opened it. It was amazing then--but it switched owners later on and subsequently I heard it had gone downhill. But, looking at more recent TripAdvisor reviews--and from your description--it seems that things have gotten much better.

So happy to hear you liked it! Can't wait to hear more about your trip.
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Dec 1st, 2012, 01:29 AM
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Thanks!
filmwill- BRL was a wonderful surprise. It was a last minute decision and a shot in the dark, based solely on how far we wanted to drive that day. It was updated, peaceful, clean and had a lovely setting with an infinity pool so inviting we delayed our morning departure to enjoy it. Breakfast was included, but non-descript. Staff was lovely, too.
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Dec 1st, 2012, 06:31 AM
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we enjoyed meeting you for that brief breakfast (BTW, no cost to me, as we encountered problems there and they eliminated all food charges).

anxious to read your detailed report
bob
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Dec 1st, 2012, 05:52 PM
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Chapter I-Chiang Mai: our pick-up from the airport by Baan Orapin went smoothly with the exception of confusion that we were arriving domestic, not international. Taken to Baan Orapin and oriented. We went for lunch down the street at The Gallery-great setting on the river with good food. Took a nap, went to the pool and then, to friend's for dinner. Day 2, we walked around the old city, visiting a few wats and took a songthaew to Doi Suthep. We met up with relatives, also in Thailand on vacation, at River Market Restaurant for a glorious meal. Day 3 was spent at Siam Rice Thai Cookery School in a day of cooking with a great, small group, delicious food and good instruction. Day 4 was spent at Thai Elephant Home (small, well organized day of bareback riding, mud baths and swimming with the elephants) and Duke's for dinner. Day 5 was an "easy" day recovering from our elephant experience and shopping around at The Healing Arts Center, Sop Moi Arts, and to the Northern School for the Blind for massages. For lunch, we took a taxi to Talat Thanim Market (pg. 268 Lonely Planet). The early evening was spent at Monk Chat at Wat Suan Dok and meeting friends at Ginger for dinner-we were under-whlemed with the service.
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Dec 5th, 2012, 06:05 AM
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Chapter IIa: The North: Day 1-Flew to Mae Hong Son via Kan Air in a small plane with great mountain views and a dramatic landing. We were met by our guide, Charlie [email protected], and the 11 seater van and driver. What a lovely way to go! We checked into Fern Resort (beautiful) with great accommodations right along the water on one side with rice fields on the other. We met about our itinerary and off we went. Starting off with a delicious lunch at Fern Restaurant, we visited the temples in Mae Hong Son near the lake, visited a mud "spa" and did a facial and went into the mineral waters (great views), ate dinner at the night stalls and bought a lantern and sent it off near the lake and the night market. The next day, we went to Mae Surin waterfall, to see the Mexican sunflowers in bloom in the surrounding mountains and to the newly rebuilt WWII museum-Khun Yuam Near Mae Hong Son. It had not "officially" reopened, and was pristine and well organized, with English info and a good video. We then returned to MHS and regret that we didn't just go back to Fern Resort and have a relaxing dinner there and maybe a swim. We went back to the market for dinner and walked around a little, but were tired.

More soon-sorry this is taking so long, but through jet lag, we returned back to work...
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Dec 5th, 2012, 06:25 AM
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take your time, we love the story
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 04:34 PM
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Chapter IIb: The North Day 3, 4, 5: Mae Hong Son to Mae Salong: We visited Pha Sua Waterfall and the Tham Pla Fish Cave. We fed the fish at both places and hiked around Tham Pla--nice hike, but watch your step. The Coffin Caves were then reached by a hike up a long ladder and then, some more rock climbing. The coffin remains are remarkable--about 2,500 years old. We checked into Soppong River Inn, which is very dimly lit at night. It's beautiful and the rooms were nice, but small. The walkways were slick. Soppong closes up early, so an early dinner is necessary. We had a good dinner at Soppong River Inn. Next day, we went to Mae La Na to the diamond cave. On the way, we saw Shan children in traditional clothing (every Friday) working in the fields at their school. Our guide was required to hire a local guide to take us to that cave. Tham Lod caving was done in a bamboo raft, again separately guided, with optional hikes. Passed through Pai, eating at Na's Kitchen (very reasonable and good) with some falafel from the kabob place across the street. We traveled, evening time, in the dark, through twisted roads to Mae Taeng and stayed at Baan Rai Lanna Resort-lovely bungalows with infinity pool. After a relaxing morning in the pool, we went to Chiang Dao, the cave with lots of buddhas and a easy path. At Tha Thom, we drove up to the Temple, which is new at 9 years old, with lovely viewpoints. Then, on to Mae Salong, checking into Little Home Guesthouse (small, clean rooms, well-located for the early morning market, but noisy). Dinner was at a Chinese restaurant.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 08:39 PM
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sounds very backwater, but interesting... lots of bug problems?
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Jan 3rd, 2013, 08:19 AM
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"Backwater"? Please explain. No bug problems, but our clothes were treated & we were conscientious with repellent. Also, used mosquito netting as provided.
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Jan 3rd, 2013, 10:49 AM
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backwater=less travelled
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Jan 3rd, 2013, 04:03 PM
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ahhh... Yes, we were on the roads less traveled, but not heavily trekking, per se. It was excellent to have our guide and driver and local ones, as needed. Charlie was great, showing us hilltribe villages where he had family that were not on the tourist path and restaurants where locals ate, etc.
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Jan 4th, 2013, 10:19 AM
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i'll continue to enjoy 4-5* and travel with you thru fodors, etc.
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Mar 16th, 2013, 05:26 PM
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Well, in an effort to make this the best trip report, it has not gotten done. So, I am going to quickly finished and will happily fill in details as needed.
North Day 6: Little Home Guesthouse was clean and very basic. Unfortunately, it was noisy, so sleep. The restaurant, though, looked as though it would be good. It was conveniently located for one to hop out of bed and go down to the market at 6AM (it only goes to 8) and enjoy some warm goat's milk and fried "donuts"--delicious, enjoying sunrise. There were tribespeople from surrounding districts and a colorful market display, including pig's heads, etc. Later in the day, we stopped at a market in the southern end of town that goes all day. Afterwards, we walked to a fuller breakfast. Charlie then took us to hike up 718 steps to Wat Santikhiri for great views. Then we visited a tea salon and the fields of tea were a lovely sight. We had tea buns, etc., and tasted a variety of teas.
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Mar 17th, 2013, 06:55 PM
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Prior to the tea plantation, Charlie took us to a quiet village where we saw rice being dried and shafted and peanuts drying, etc., with grandmothers holding swaddled babies. We also stopped at a agricultural residential high school, saw children fishing in the stream and had lunch at their cafe with food locally produced. We helped plant some seedlings.
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Mar 17th, 2013, 08:14 PM
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Wanna cry..
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Mar 18th, 2013, 06:17 AM
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?!? PaganiPilot. I think I will ignore your comment and move forward.
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Mar 18th, 2013, 03:31 PM
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Sorry that wasnt intended for ur post
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