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Up North - Chaing Mai, Rai, Pai or Mae Hon Song?

Up North - Chaing Mai, Rai, Pai or Mae Hon Song?

Old Mar 11th, 2002, 04:47 PM
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Up North - Chaing Mai, Rai, Pai or Mae Hon Song?

We're traveling to Thailand in May and are wanting to spend about a week up north. We would like to see wats, waterfalls, ride an elephant and see a hilltribe community (Karen if possible).

We don't know much about Chaing Mai, other than it is the 2nd largest city in Thailand. Do you have any suggestions on how to see things? I don't think we want to trek and camp overnight (because of the heat), but don't need 5 star accomodations either.

Any advice would be appreciated.
Old Mar 11th, 2002, 05:55 PM
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You can see everything that you want from Chiangmai. Chiangmai itself has some very old and interesting Wats in the area of the town and others nearby.

There are waterfalls in the National Parks, but be aware that Thai waterfalls are not the equivalent of the Victoria Falls! The Thais like them but they are small.

Several places offer elephant rides, one of the best is at the Government animal hospital about a 45 minute drive from Chiangmai. However there are other commercial rides that may give you a longer and more interesting ride.

You will need a car, either a drive yourself or one with a driver. To see the hill tribes you will probably need to join a tour or have a guide with you. Have a look at http://www.asiatradingonline.com/thepub.htm that rents out a car with English speaking driver for about 1,200 Baht a day.

May will be very hot.
Old Mar 13th, 2002, 03:36 AM
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I agree with the first post - Chaing Mai has it all. We found a driver who spoke very good English at the airport, with an airconditioned car, who took us everywhere and made arrangements for everything we wanted to do (including meals and shopping). The cost was about the same as renting a car would have been, and we had the benefit of local knowledge.

About the elephant rides - make sure you go somewhere that gives you about a half-day ride, up into the mountains. An hour is insufficient to get the experience, and the cost differential is insignificant.

We stayed at the Westin, which was surprisingly reasonable, but we walked in and negotiated a rate on the spot, rather than booking in advance. Stay away from the Ping Palace - horrid.

Prepare yourself for heat and humidity beyond your wildest dreams.

Have fun!
Old Mar 13th, 2002, 07:01 AM
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I saw your post and was wondering where you found the car and driver. We are going in October and want to look into that very same thing. Thank you.
Old Mar 13th, 2002, 07:08 AM
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You can probably arrange for a car and driver through your hotel, or, there are lots of travel agencies/tourist offices in Chiang Mai that could probably arrange it for you.
Old Mar 13th, 2002, 12:17 PM
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Thank you Paige.
Old Mar 17th, 2002, 06:26 AM
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Karen, I was both in Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son. The latter is much smaller +less touristy. There is a nice hotel in a large park called Tara. Elephant rides can be arranged and a few miles up the river there is a village of the Padaung tribe, where the women wear these masses of brass rings around their necks, arms and legs. It is unbelievable how they can move about with all that heavy stuff. On the other hand, I don't know whether it is "correct" to visit that tribe. I understand they hat stopped the brass rings custom a few decades ago but since they emigrated from Burma (Myanmar) to Thailand and found that it is a tourist attraction, they restarted and make of course more money with displaying their women than with farming.
Old Mar 18th, 2002, 06:14 AM
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We just returned from a trip to Thailand that included a week in Chiang Mai. The reason we stayed that long in Chiang Mai was that we took advantage of the many day trips outside of the city attractions. We booked a car and driver/guide through one of the hundreds of travel agents that have offices throughout the city. You can book any type of tour you want. We opted for a private car and driver because we don't like touring in groups. Depending on who you book with and where you go sometimes having a private car is not much more expensive. We were staying at the River View Lodge and they offered about seven different tours at various rates and the number of people in each tour varied depending on how many people signed up for them that day. We were lucky one day when we signed up for a day trip south to Lampang temples (fabulous!) and the elephant conservation camp because we were the only ones and so for 2000 baht (approx. $23 per person) we got a private eight hour tour. On another day we walked around the corner to an outfit called Vanida Tours and booked a private car to go to Doi Inthonon National park for 2600 Baht for two and we were glad we paid the extra $14 dollars because since we were alone we could take the time to make the 3 km nature trail hike at the top of the mountain (fabulous!) whereas, if we had been with the hotel group we would not have been able to do that. I'm sure you could get even lower prices if you bargain hard and shop around.
Old Mar 19th, 2002, 05:56 AM
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please reconsider about taking elephant rides while in Thailand. They are not always cared for well, often beaten to train them so we can ride them, and are left chained to fences so they don't escape.

The elephant in Asia is nearly extinct. Please reconsider. Thank you.

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