What to visit Chiang Mai

Sep 1st, 2005, 01:29 PM
  #1  
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What to visit Chiang Mai

We are going to Thailand in Nov basically my itinerary is (internal flights booked)
2nights BK -
3 nights Chiang Mai
3 Nights Singapore
5 Nights Krabi
1 night bk

When we get to Chiang Mai its to Loi Krathong festival, does anyone know what to expect and what to do during this time. I also have a cookery class booked so really only have one full day to do a tour. I am thinking of contacting a guide to do a private tour BUT WHAT TO SEE? i fancy:
Elephant park (+ elephant ride)
Hill tribe
Doi temple
Bamboo raft
Local crafts
Can anyone suggest an itinerary or must see sights
Apologies for the long post but realise i am trying to cram in loads in one day (should be able to do the old city etc on the afternoon we arrive)

Cheers
Smeagol
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Sep 1st, 2005, 06:08 PM
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Loi Krathong is a great time to be in Chiang Mai. The celebrations generally take place in the evening and centre on the river, but most restaurants catering to tourists will have something going on.

Krathongs (floats with candles on them) are lit and floated on the river or a lake or pool. Down by the river there will be fireworks and it can get pretty noisy. There are also plenty of the hot air balloons that Chiang Mai is famous for. The more popular riverside restaurants are booked out months before.

IMO the best elephant show is the Elephant Centre near Lampang, but it is difficult to combine that with anything else. As your time is limited, I would suggest going to the Pang Chang or elephant camp which for a morning outing can easily be combined with the snake farm, and/or an orchid farm.

Alternatively, there is a company near Mae Wang that offers elephant rides combined with a ride on a bamboo raft. We took friends there a while back and they thought it excellent value. You could combine that with a visit to Baan Tawai for some handicrafts.

Either of the above would leave the afternoon free for Doi Suthep and possibly a visit to a Hill Tribe; though this close to Chiang Mai they will not be particularly authentic.

For local crafts the options really come down to the factory/showrooms along the San Kamphaeng Road, the night market or the Hang Dong area. However, if you are only interested is seeing or buying the finished products the two storeys of the Northern Village in the Airport Plaza offers an excellent range of locally produced goods, is air conditioned and is open in the evening.

You could do any of the above with just a car and driver, a guide really isn’t needed. Your hotel will be able to arrange a car, or you could do so yourself.

There isn’t really much of an “old city” to see. The walls are relatively modern reconstructions. Wat Phra Singh is worth a visit, it is about 700 years old, but for the rest of the afternoon I would head off to the Northern Village.

Feel free to email me ([email protected]) if you want more details.
Tangata is offline  
Sep 1st, 2005, 06:34 PM
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i think others will tell you the same thing but you are spreading yourself too thin....i personally would cut out singapore and add more days to bkk...

doi sutup? is a must and shopping along the craft road...the elephants out near the 4 seasons is a good show and takes only a couple of hours...you should have a driver....normally they are easy to get but during festival time it may be more difficult...assume you have a hotel already in CM??
rhkkmk is offline  
Sep 1st, 2005, 10:12 PM
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Thank you both for your very helpful replies.
I will check out all the info.
I actually can't change things around as flights etc are now booked and all but one hotel is sorted.I have already been to BKK its just so my partner can get a tatste ( & yes booked the hotel in CM some months ago when it became apparent it was busy)
Can anyone suggest a driver/guide. Would i just engage a driver and they take us to all the places? am not sure how it works. I have contacted Ratt (who's name comes up a lot on here and TA i have noticed)and just wait for her response (i think i read somewhere thet her sister does CM)

If anyone can think of anything else i would be most gratefull

Again thanks and have a great weekend
Smeagol
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Sep 2nd, 2005, 10:15 AM
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A driver would be great in Chiang Mai. Things to do in one day:
1. Elephant Conservation Center near Lampang -- this is half a day -- go first thing in the morning
2. Doi Suthep
3. Crafts (if you have time)

That will take up more than one day if
Poon (Ratt's sister) is wonderful and will help you with all of this. You don't need a guide.
glorialf is offline  
Sep 4th, 2005, 12:12 AM
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Thanks Gloria

Thats sounds like the perfect things to do. I did Email Ratt on friday (UK time) so will wait for her to get back to me (out of interest how quickly does she usually respond, just so i can recontact her if i haven't heard
anything in a few days)

Anything else you can reccomend for CM?
Kind Regards
Smeagol
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Sep 4th, 2005, 03:49 AM
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Generally Ratt has responded to me within 24 hours so if you haven't heard by Monday email her again. Make sure you have the correct email.
glorialf is offline  
Sep 4th, 2005, 04:03 AM
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We were in CM for Loy Krathong last year. It was very special. We ate dinner near the river and then walked down to the throngs near a bridge. We launched our float and bought a hot air balloon. The sky is full of them. You are very lucky to be there. Sergeant Kai (Chiangmaitours.com) can help with your CM plans.
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Sep 4th, 2005, 05:59 AM
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Gpanda
Can you recommend any good restuarants near the river? we were thinking of maybe the Riverside restaurant? have you been? Also i hear it can get pretty crowded during the festival at these restuarants any tips
Thanks for your previous reply

Smeagol
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Sep 4th, 2005, 06:02 AM
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Gloriaf
I have [email protected] is this correct? I must admint i thought i may have heard from her by now but then i guess she is really busy.
Smeagol
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Sep 4th, 2005, 07:31 AM
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Gloria

Just checked the message i sent and it was to [email protected] so looks like it was my error (never have been good at typing) have emailed Ratt again and hopefully she will be in contact soon.
In your experience is 10 weeks enough notice?
Smeagol
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Sep 4th, 2005, 08:27 AM
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Have not eaten at the Riverside. There are 3 restaurants clustered together that receive good reviews. I forget the names, but they're in every guide book. We ate at an Italian Restaurant 1/2 block from the river whose name we got from Nancy Chandler's Map of CM. We did not have reservations, so the usual suspects were unavailable. If you go for one of the riverside restaurants, make sure you make reservations way in advance. The actual fun of Loy Krathong is walking among the throngs and the celebrating. This won't occur until it turns dark, not dusk. Plan dinner time accordingly. Make sure you purchase one of the Hot air balloons. Before lighting, I strongly recommend you watch someone else accomplish flight. My tale of our feeble attempts is given in my trip report of our Nov. 2004 trip that has long passed into well-desreved obscurity.
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Sep 4th, 2005, 08:58 AM
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Gpanda

Thanks again, i will check out my Nancy Chandler map (bought the BK and CM editions already am just loving them)
Thanks also for the headsup re the balloons, i'll make sure i do just that.
I think i read somewhere that some of the restaurants don't take reservations during festivals but hey this is Thailand I will just check out what looks good.
Smeagol
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Sep 4th, 2005, 04:39 PM
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I was in Chiang Mai for the first time in February. Although I had a busy itinerary, when I learned that they had a pair of pandas at the zoo, I found a spare hour to go over there and see them. It was well worth it.
tanuki is offline  
Sep 26th, 2005, 02:33 PM
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I visited Chiang Mai in November 2003, and just by shear luck, it was during Loi Krathong. What a great time to be in that city!! A visit to Doi Suthep is a must, as both the grounds (if you ignore the gauntlet of vendors there) and the road trip to the site are spectacular. I rented a motorbike and with a new friend on back as a guide, made haste both up and down the mountain on a very well maintained road, with scores of long sweeping curves. My only wish was that I had been on my own sportbike carving up and down that road instead of a 125cc steed. But I digress... A trip to Doi Inthanon Nat'l Park might interest you if you want to set foot on the highest point in the country, visit mountain villages within the park, and enjoy the scenery roll by on the ~2 drive in each direction. I also enjoy a motorbike ride up the Mae Sa valley (I believe that is how it is spelled) to visit another mountain village, stopping along the well shaded mountain road for a luncheon in a cafe perched over waterfalls.... stunning! I found the house of my dreams that day in a little cluster of semi-custom homes on a sunny hillside surrounded by rain forest, for 1/3 the price of the little townhome I call home in the S.F. Bay area in California. If only..... Other things: How about mountain biking, white water rafting, and elephant rides all in one day in the Ma Teng River valley? It's possible, and I did it. I found a tour company who had various permutations of this same one day trip. I enjoyed it thoroughly. What a beautiful place it is just outside CM.
scooderdude is offline  
Sep 26th, 2005, 02:38 PM
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Oh... I forgot to mention my favorite restaurant was the "Antique House", located in the night market district, about 1 block from the Ping River. Incredible northern Thai cuisine, wonderful 19th century Burmese style teak structure, outdoor eating under canopy or indoors. Two friends and I nearly made ourselves ill with a 7 course dinner, copious liters of beer, and dessert. I think the total was less than $25 US for us all. We could not eat a bite more, and we tried, as we dined for some 2.5 hours!
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Oct 5th, 2005, 08:21 AM
  #17  
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scooderdude

Thanks so much for your great descriptions i will definately check out the Antique House. Would i need to book?
We too are in CM during LK purely by accident, would love to say it was careful planning but just a very Happy accident.
I have booked a guide and plan to go to Doi Suthep as some arts and crafts places reccomended by Gloria. Plus i think we will go to the Elephant camp in Lampang.... Am so Excited only 5.5 weeks to go.....
Smeagol is offline  
Oct 5th, 2005, 08:22 AM
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PS meant to say did a California road trip last year SF via PCH to LA
LOVED the bay area, how very lucky you are, wonderful place in the world to live......
Smeagol is offline  

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