I'm reading the travel guides and lots of information and I'm trying to ingest all of it. Still, I have more questions:
Is Lamphun the ancient city with the GIANT looking staircases and massive structure?
I've heard how the elephant rides are over-rated or not worth it. Still, it is a must for me. What is the best area in all of Thailand to do this?
Likewise, bamboo rafting over rapids sounds incredible. Where do I need to go to do this right?
How long would it take me to get to Issan from Chiang Mai? My concern in this trip is time more so than money. So, I'd be willing to hire a car or fly or whatever. Even so, how much would it cost approximately?
Same question: Chiang Mai to the Meh Khong and the Laos border. How long might it take me and how much would it cost?
Am I trying to fit too much into two weeks?
Thank you again.
#1 sleepingstill has been a member since 9/9/2006. Posts: 3
Hi again sleepingstill
Passing on the stuff I've been researching. I am checking out the self drive touring stuff too 'cos dislike tours and there are 3 of us (and tour to lampang and elephant centre US$71 each) this is internet price so I'm sure it's much cheaper out of Chiang Mai with many competitors. You can see a good deal of northern Thailand if you self drive. Not suggesting that you use these guys but this site gives a good itinerary for various length self drives, a car is roughly US$50 per day, can pick car up in Chiang Mai and drop off in Chiang Rai. Then you can select accomodation that suits. Must have International Drivers Permit in Thailand.
Google 'Self drive Chiang Rai - Chiang Mai' The website is passionasia.com
Elephant stuff. Over rated or not it's still pretty a pretty amazing thing to do just once ... their hair is so prickly. There is a private elephant centre at Chiang Dao which is promoted as a half day tour. I'm leaning towards the Goverment run training centre and hospital at Lampang 77 kms from CM where they do 1/3 day mahout training, shows 2 per day and extra show on Sat and Sun and elephant rides 8 - 3. Many of the Royal elephants are trained and housed here and supposedly treated better. Google 'elephant training centre lampang' it's a weird site more of a forum-hard to find out entrance prices but nice pics of baby elephants. And they give directions if you take the bus (and photo to show bus driver)
There are tour promoters everywhere in CM, you can do a half day combined raft/ride (rapids! maybe an accumulation of river stones but you still get wet cos no caulking on these babies) Still lots of fun.
Trying to do too much?? Do you want the experience or to see as much possible?
Hope this info helps
#2 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270
Just letting you know that when I was in Thailand a month or so ago I was super stoked to ride an elephant too. Unfortunately I cried the whole time because of the horrible mistreatment of the elephents. They are wild animals and seeing them all chained in a dusty basically parking lot for elephants, scorching in the sun, looking ridiculously unhappy wasnt the amazing experience I was looking for. I met a number of people who went to the non-riding camps, where the elephants are rescued from such riding operations which I heard was amazing. You can help wash them and interact with them and they are actually happy. I am now donating money to a number of these organizations because I felt so bad that I contributed to the mistreatment of the other elephants. Please give this a thought.
#4 jldm has been a member since 9/7/2006. Posts: 8
Do you have a name of these organisations (the one you donate to)? Like you I went on an elephant ride in Thailand, but came away feeling really concerned about the way in which these elephants were treated.
I elephant I went on was hit with a large metal object, which looked like it might hurt. I asked the Thai man (who was steering the elephant) if he was hurting the elephant, he didn't really answer my question, but told me he used it when the elephant would disobey.
#5 Laura_B has been a member since 30/6/2006. Posts: 54
Treatment of the elephants varies from park to park -- the Lampang Centre mentioned by Marian is regarded as a progressive example of an elephant camp where the animals are well treated and looked after.
There's a few rescue centres scattered across Thailand -- another we've heard about is Elephant Stay in Ayutthaya, just outside Bangkok -- well worth a visit. There's another outside Kanchanaburi, but its name escapes me.
Laura B, the metal thing you're talking about -- if it is a metal hook-like tool -- about the length of a large stirring spoon -- then it's a common device used "to get the elephant's attention" -- though I don't think it hurts the elephant. I guess they're too big to put on a leash, so this prodding device is an alternative.