4 of us are going to Thailand at the end of March to meet my sister on her RTW trip. We're flying into Bangkok then heading to Chiang Mai but I wondered what people's opinions are on the best way to do this. I've heard good things about the train journey, but that it needs to be booked in advance. On the other hand, the plane is probably the fastest route but not as interesting. Whaddya think? We're only there for 2 weeks so any very slow options (walking!) are out!
Ok, my word may not be gospel but many do what I suggest in Chang Mai
Go via bus (sometimes free as Government encourages the northern capitals tourism). I paid 50bath/50cents, 50pence. It was a VIP bus with huge comfy recline seats and air cons and films.
You have to visit the Elephant Nature Park and spend at least one night there, you would regret a single night most including myself spent at least 1 week there.
Its highest rated by CNN, BBC, National Geographic and Time Magazine and the King of Thailand. There are Elephant "camps" which are brutally treated Elephants which have bleeding backs form the ropes that strap the chairs to them so toursits can ride them.
The Elephant Nature park rescues these and the Elephants and free and you ride them naturally.
www.thaifocus.com and www.elephantnaturepark.org
in Chang Mia eat at the cafwe opposite Gecko book store and walk the boat. Visit the library to learn about how Thais learn about Western culture.
Take a bus up to the border with Lao go to Chang Rai
The food at the Elephant Nature park is amazing. You go on missions with them to vaccinate Elephants kept elswhere and stay in your own hut and bathe the Elephants in the river and play with the other animals
My friend just returned after seeing my videos and said it was the best thing he's done
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you might consider automobile - you could hire a large vehicle between you - a 4WD station wagon could prove useful for touring the countryside around Chiang Mai too.
Even you take the bus or the train you will loose a day inside them. Just think about it because you will go for just two weeks. In the other hand by this way you have the opportunity to accross the hole country. I would choose the plain ,its so cheap also. I paid just 15 euro for a flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. It s funny, isnt it?
Thanks all, good to hear about the different opinions. I guess there is no 'right' way to do it. Elephant camp sounds really amazing, will definitely put it on the list!
Cool really its not of the "camp" its the rescue centre.
Its unbelievable. My friend came back with some great photos, will see if he can upload them (he only got back a few days ago).
Cute babies there right now!
bus is good, its over night and plenty of stops (every 2 hours for 15 mins) to try the local food. Think of it as a snack curry (with rice). They are awesome! Maybe 15p each
If you only have a couple of weeks I would suggest that you fly from Don Muang Airport in Bangkok on one of the discount airlines (Air Asia, One-Two-Go,Nok Air), Thai Airways is the most punctual but will cost you the most. You should be able to get a one way ticket for no more than 1,250thb, the flight takes just over an hour. Yes its a dull journey, but it gets you there quickly, and you can always try the bus / train journey back to Bangkok at the end of your stay here if you want to experience it !!.
In terms of your timings, I noted that you are travelling in March, IF you have the flexibility to move your dates by a week or two I would suggest you do as between 13th - 15th April its the Chiang Mai Songkran Water Festival, its a not to be missed event, the whole city will be absolutely full of residents, visiting Thais & foreign visitors. Take a look at my blog at [snip] I wrote an article all about Songkran just a week or so ago !!.
Chiang Mai is a fabulous place to take a holiday, its so diverse, but at the same time incredibly laid back, none of the bustle or nightlife of Bangkok, or the expensive beaches of the South, its the REAL Thailand !!.
Places of note to visit on your stay, the Elephant Rescue Centre is good, it looks after injured oir badly cared for Elephants, several of the injured ones are victims of land mines in Cambodia, having lost limbs, they are recuperating and actually having prosthetic limbs fitted !!. Personally the Maesa Elephant Camp IS a great 1/2 day out, it IS NOT cruel, the Elephants are looked after much better than the average animal in Thailand !!. The Elephants at Maesa ACTUALLY paint pictures, it is incredible to watch !.
Baan Tawai Handicraft Village, Borsang Umbrella Village, San Kamphaeng Hot Springs, Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, The Daily Markets, Chiang Mai Night Safari, Doi Inthanon National Park(highest point in Thailand), Wat Doi Suthep Temple (one of the most important within Buddha religion), the list can go on & on !!.
Many of the very best places to visit, information about where to stay, what to do, local weather, breaking local news & lots of general information can be found on my website [snip]
Take a look, I am always happy to help & answer all questions.
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At about 750 km from Bkk Chiang Mai is a good day's drive - so best to stop off for a night - but that is half the fun of driving - stopping to look at anything that grabs your attention.
Driving in Thailand is NOT for the fainthearted , there are various articles available across the internet about the dangers, if you insist on the scenic route I would suggest the bus or train, particularly as you are on a limited time schedule.
I personally have made this drive on quite a few occasions, and have yet to have what I would describe as a pleasant experience, or maybe its just me !!.