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Nan, Chiang Rai & Tha Ton, Chiang Dao loop

Posted by altmtl on 10/1/2013 at 19:59

After a month on Koh Lanta my real adventure starts here...any suggestions for my planned route in mid-feb? Does it make sense?
Just want to relax, be in nature, days are flexible. - Start Feb. 11 - Must leave Thailand March 1st (end of visa)

BK to Lampang - night train, bus to Nan - 3- 4 days?
Nan to Chiang Rai - 3 - 4 days?
Chiang Rai to Tha Ton by boat? Or the other way around - 3 -4 days? - should I cut one of the above? add more or less days to another?
Tha Ton to Chiang Dao (cave) - 2 days? Is local transport difficult?
Chiang Mai - 1 - 2 days (been before)
Chiang Mai to BK - night train? - Could take bus - Bus to Chanthaburi (2 days) - any shorter route here if I want to avoid BK?
Cross border at Pialin to go to Battambang, Cambodia

Thx

#1 altmtl has been a member since 18/5/2009. Location: Canada. Posts: 992
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Posted by altmtl on 11/1/2013 at 05:50

I realize not many people do this route, but it's worth a try :)

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Posted by Captain_Bob on 11/1/2013 at 06:34

Here's a route I would do again
http://goo.gl/maps/76QZn

Lampang IMO isn't terribly interesting or scenic, but the road from there to Phayao is nice. Otherwise maybe just start and stop in Chiang Mai and do a loop via Phayao, Nan, Chiang Kham, Chiang Rai, Thaton, Chiang Dao... There is bus service all along these routes, but of course you could rent a motorbike in Chiang Mai and... Perfect time of year for it although smog could pick up in late Feb (doesn't usually get bad until March). Food for thought anyway.

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Posted by altmtl on 11/1/2013 at 14:02

Lampang is where the train stops, I was planning to leave right away for Nan [img]smileys/smile.gif[/img] I don't think Chiang Kham has much to see, as a motorbike is not an option unfortunately - thanks.

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Posted by Captain_Bob on 12/1/2013 at 06:01

"Lampang is where the train stops"
Huh? The northern line terminates at Chiang Mai, then you're just a 10-minute ride to Arcade bus station for Nan.
Timetable here

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Posted by somtam2000 on 12/1/2013 at 06:38 admin

That's a great trip @CaptainBob -- the road from Chiang Kham till it hits 1080 is a cracker.

@atmtl it you get off the train at Den Chai you can get a songtheaw to Phrae (which is a good spot in itself) then get a bus to Nan -- faster than going from Lampang (unless you want to go there of course).

I THINK the bus from Nan to Chiang Rai will go via Phayao though, so you will miss some of the scenery. CaptainBob's route that I mention can be done by songtheaw and local local bus, but very time consuming.

Note on the Tha Ton boat thing you can stop along the way -- doesn't need to be done in one hit.

3-4 days in Nan itself is a fair bit of time -- unless you're planning on going trekking, visiting Bo Kleua or one of the national parks...

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Posted by wanderingcat on 12/1/2013 at 21:59

really depends on your interests...there's plenty to see for those who like temple architecture & the countryside life. anyway i'll just dump the info here for future reference (now that i can't dig up my past posts on TT):

Lampang
spent 5D4N there just cycling around town (along the river, through the neighbourhoods, & visiting many Burmese-style temples; special mention for Wat Pongsanuk & its displays of Lanna Buddhist art, UNESCO chose this temple & Wat Xieng Mouane in Luang Prabang plus one more in Xishuangbanna for their Buddhist Art preservation programme) & through rice fields to neighbouring Ko Kae district (2 famous temples - Wat Lai Hin Luang Kaew Chang Yuen & Wat Prathat Lampang), plus enjoying the old buildings & weekend 'walking street' along Talat Kao Rd (there's also a very small 'walking street' in the old neighbourhood of the city - Ban Thamma Oh - think on Wednesdays only, can't remember).

Nan province
Nan city is nice, but spent most of my time in the small towns north of it (Tha Wang Pha, Pua, Chiang Klang) to see Tai Lue temple architecture & weaving (to see this elsewhere you'd have to travel to Muang Ngeun, Hongsa & Ou Neua in northern Laos) & the countryside. you can find & eat khai phaen (riverweed) in this area like in northern Laos, just that they season it differently (simpler, but still tastes great) here. haven't been to Doi Phukha National Park or Bo Kleua.

Nan to Chiangrai via Phu Langka, Chiang Kham & Thoeng
see this: http://www.travelfish.org/board/post/thailand/5655_remote-northern-thailand--phu-lang-ka
you'll pass Tham Sakoen just before the bus makes the climb up to Phu Langka Resort:
http://thaiventuretime.blogspot.sg/2012/02/tham-sakoen-national-park.html
agree that Chiang Kham wouldn't interest most tourists, but if you pass through, the Burmese-style wooden Wat Nantaram is worth a stop.
(somtam2000 - all except one of the Nan-Chiangrai buses go by the faster boring route via Phayao, only one bus per day goes by the slower scenic route via Song Khwae - Phu Langka - Chiang Kham - Thoeng)
from Thoeng, it's possible to head northeast to Namtok Pusang (waterfall with warm water), Phu Chi Fa & Doi Phatang, but difficult without own wheels. in the peak season there's one van per day from Chiangrai old bus station to Phu Chi Fa that will pass through Thoeng along the way.

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Posted by altmtl on 13/1/2013 at 07:39

Thanks for these tips, I thought it was faster to go to Nan from Lampang, thx for correcting me. I knew the end of the line was Chiang Mai :) I'll look into these other options. Don't want to move too, If I you think I should cut something let me know...

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Posted by altmtl on 19/1/2013 at 21:10

After looking things over a bit, I think I'm spreading myself a little thin, moving too much, so I think I'll focus on Chiang Rai, Thaton & Chiang Dao :)

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Posted by altmtl on 20/1/2013 at 04:30

So this would be my new route - BK to Chiang Mai - night train, Bus to Chiang Dao/Fang/ThaTon - Boat to Chiang Rai, Back to Chiang Mai - I have about 13 - 14 days. Will do a trek, a few day trips to villages etc

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