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Two weeks in Northern Thailand - suggestions?

Two weeks in Northern Thailand - suggestions?

Oct 3rd, 2005, 04:08 PM
  #1  
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Two weeks in Northern Thailand - suggestions?

Planning a bit of a last minute trip to Thailand (with a diversion to Siem Reap for five days and Luang Prabang for seven) for five weeks from early November. Luckily I stumbled across this forum just after I booked the flights and have found it invaluable, especially as I had to make some arrangements before I even had relevant guide books. Thanks to all the information I found here, much of it has fallen into place. Now I just need a bit of help with the last couple of weeks.
I have four nights booked in Chiang Mai, followed by six days with Poon. We were thinking of driving round the Mae Hong Son loop and possibly up to Mae Salong (inspired by a posting from Glorialf) and the Golden Triangle after which I was thinking of stopping somewhere for five nights before heading back to Bangkok for our flight home. I like the look of Fern Resort in Mae Hong Son and Belle Villa Resort in Pai but either would involve doubling back after our time with Poon . Anantara sounds divine but I don’t think our budget will stretch to it as all their lower priced room are booked for the time in question. Alternatively we could spend some more time in Chiang Mai.
Does anyone have any suggestions as to where to pause for a few days in Northern Thailand? Is the Mae Hong Son Loop worth the arduous drive? What are the not to be missed highlights of Northern Thailand?
Kippy is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2005, 05:11 PM
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If you are interested in elephants you might be interested in The Thai Elephant Conservation Centre an easy bus ride from Chiang Mai on the way to Lampang. A great way to spend a few days and very reasonably priced.
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Oct 3rd, 2005, 06:31 PM
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You might consider a couple of days at Doi Angkang on the Burmese border. The Amari group have a hotel there (chalets).
Tangata is offline  
Oct 4th, 2005, 01:35 AM
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Thanks Pepper1. We have planned a day out at the Elephant Conservation Centre during our time in Chiang Mai.
Tangata, Is this the Angkhang Nature Resort? I had earmarked this as a possible stopover if we were driving further north. I've just looked at their site again in the light of staying a bit longer and it does look lovely. Have you stayed there?
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Oct 4th, 2005, 04:13 AM
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IMO the Mae Hong Sorn Loop is definitely worth the drive the scenery is spectacular and the road is very good (although there are supposedly 600 hairpin bends and lots of steep hills!!). The hill tribe villages are great if you get out into the countryside rather than those close by the road.
We stayed in both Fern Resort and Belle Villa both of which were really good (don't be tempted by the Imperial or Rooks resort in MHS as they are not so good). I you want something less expensive there are plenty of good places in both MHS and Pai and you should be ok to turn up on the day and get a room without to much trouble as it is not high season.
crellston is offline  
Oct 4th, 2005, 04:17 AM
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I second the Mae Hong Son loop especially if you are interested in hilltribes and scenery and get off the beaten path. I also really enjoyed Doi Mae Salong.

Finally don't miss the Queen Mother's gardens and craft projects at Doi Tung (I may have the name wrong-having a senior moment)near Chiang Rai.
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Oct 4th, 2005, 04:31 AM
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How hairy are the hairpin turns? And how narrow are the roads? I don't do well (as a passenger!)on hairpin turns. We had thought to fly to MHS from Chiang Mai to avoid the winding drive, but am afraid we might be missing something. Perhaps we could do just part of the drive -- Do you think we will be able to get a driver in MHS to take us to Pai or Doi Mae Salong?
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Oct 4th, 2005, 05:01 AM
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The drive is great but I would urge you to hire a driver to do it.
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Oct 4th, 2005, 05:09 AM
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Thanks, it sounds like the Mae Hong Son loop is well worth the drive. As it will be late November before we are there, I am hoping for lots of sunflowers along the way.
Crellston - do you remember the names of any villages off the road that you were really pleased to have found?
Gloria do you have any recommendations for accommodation up around Doi Mae Salong and or Chiang Rai?
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Oct 4th, 2005, 05:18 AM
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Gloria we have Poon booked for six days from when we leave Chiang Mai. I am still trying to work out the logistics of our time with her and the places we might want to visit in the North before I email her to see if it is feasible. One of our thoughts was to spend a couple of days going up north around Chiang Rai and then to go part way round the Mae Hong Son Loop and have her leave us at Mae Hong Son where we could stop for a few days and we could either hire another driver to take us back to Chiang Mai or fly. Any thoughts?
Kippy is offline  
Oct 4th, 2005, 07:43 AM
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I think having her leave you in Mae Hong Son (or Chiang Rai for that matter) could make sense.

Make sure you say hi to Poon from Gloria.
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Oct 4th, 2005, 08:03 AM
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Hi, Kippy, I'll be anxious to hear about your trip. We are thinking of going to the same places next November and are just starting to do our research. Also want to try to squeeze in some time at the Anantara. We used Poon in Chiang Mai this January/February when we were there and liked her very much. Will be anxious to hear whether you have any luck with a driver in MHS for the trip back. We were thinking of flying to MHS from CM and then getting a driver there to takes us to some of the other areas in the north and ending up at the Anantara. From there we would drive to Chiang Rai & then fly back to BKK. Any thoughts on that anyone?
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Oct 4th, 2005, 09:56 AM
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Gloria, thanks for your input - I will certainly pass on your greetings to Poon.

CFW - I will report back on our trip. With some advance planning I might have structured our trip quite differently, but with the short time in hand I am happy with the way things are panning out and starting to look forward to my first trip to Thailand. Already, I'm thinking that this could be the first of many!
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Oct 4th, 2005, 11:15 AM
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You might consider a night at Lisu Lodge and/or Lanna Farm. http://www.asian-oasis.com
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Oct 4th, 2005, 03:00 PM
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Yes it does term itself a nature resort. We have stayed there several times; the hotel is quite pleasant but the town doesn’t offer a lot. The gardens of the King’s project are worth half a day and there are some hill tribes there. It could be quite cold by our standards – the cooler weather seems to be early this year, we have switched our air conditioners off already.

I’ll second Gloria’s comments on the late Princess Mother’s gardens – it is in an interesting area. The areas settled by the ex Kuomintang soldiers are also interesting, both on the Burmese Border and the Lao Border.

The road from Chiang Mai to Pai, going anti-clockwise, is very windy indeed – I don’t remember the exact number of turns but you can get a T shirt recording the number and/or a certificate. Personally I love the road and enjoy driving it, but I have had passengers who have been quite ill.
From Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai, again going anti-clockwise, there is the choice of the main loop through Hot (Hod on some maps) which passes a prehistoric site, or cutting across the slopes of Doi Inthanon. On the latter, the scenery is excellent, but it is very steep in places and last trip with a fully loaded 4 X 4 I suffered some brake fade. You can also “cut across the centre” to the north-east of Doi Inthanon, but you would need an off road for that and I doubt that you could get a driver to take you.

If you intend to continue north, you will want to travel clockwise from Chiang Mai.
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Oct 4th, 2005, 06:04 PM
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Chicago999, We did a brief excursion north of Chiang Mai with East-West Siam and stayed overnight at Lanna Farm. Before we went I kept trying to find someone on this board who had stayed there but couldn't find any reviews here or elsewhere. The photos and description on the web site sounded great so we went and really enjoyed it -- another highlight of our trip. We had Thai massages from local villagers and also did a brief cooking class.

Gloria, In Chiang Mai we also enjoyed the Whole Earth restaurant, which lots of people recommend and you may have been to yourself. We also went to a very local-type place with Thai friends(completely the opposite
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Oct 4th, 2005, 06:09 PM
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Oops, something happened in the middle of my post. Anyway, the local place I was describing was completely opposite of Grand Lanna -- formica tables, if I recall, but very good Northern Thai food and lots of fun. I think it is called Aroon.
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Oct 4th, 2005, 06:33 PM
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CFW-- yes I did eat at the Whole Earth and liked it.
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Oct 5th, 2005, 03:54 AM
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Sorry but I cannot recall the names of the villages we stopped at around the loop, but generally speaking, if you see a small road or dirt track off of the main road the generally there will be a village at the end of it. If you are travelling without a guide it helps to speak a at least some Thai (although most hilltribes have their own dialects). If not then buy the LP Thai phrasebook with has some basic hilltribe phrases - making the effort is to speak the language is really appreciated & you will be made very welcome. If you use a guide, they will certainly know a few villages to take you to but they will obviously be often visited by tour groups if close to the main towns.
As far as the hairpin bends are concerned, according to my guidebook there are 600+ om the loop. I drove myself and found the driving to be fine and we enjoyed the additional flexibility - Having said this, I am from England where we drive on the same side of the road as the Thais (left) so possibly it could harder to adapt if you normally drive on the right especially with all those bends!
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Oct 5th, 2005, 03:56 AM
  #20  
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Tangata, thanks for all your useful input. Do I take it that you live in the North of Thailand? If so good news for me about it being cooler early this year etc. We live in a cold, wet part of the world and I know that I'm going to find the heat and humidity difficult. We opted to be in the north for quite a bit of our trip partly because we hoped that it would be cooler, however I'd since read that it was all a bit relative and that it would still be very hot by my standards.
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