I am a long term reader of the travelfish message boards but this is my first post. Basically, I'm interested in finding out about treks in Northern Thailand and Laos that focus on wilderness or wildlife viewing. I'm not so interested in visiting hill tribes. Nothing against the hill tribes themselves, its just that after two years in Peace Corps I don't really feel like paying for a 2-day cross-cultural exchange. Can anyone give me any advice? My wife and I will be arriving in Bangkok July 21 and will most likely head up to Chaing Mai and gradually make our way to Laos via Huay Xai. Thanks!
#1 jpleonard2000 has been a member since 17/6/2010. Posts: 1
I would say go during the dry season, but you've already planned your timeline. Frankly, trekking through real jungles sucks. There are just too many things in the jungle that want to bite or sting you. I climbed a mountain here once during the dry season, and one attempt in the rainy season. In the rainy season it just wasn't doable anymore. Too many bees and hornets, too many snakes, too many scorpions, WAY too much vegetation.
Trekking in Northern Thailand is an unforgettable experience and Chiang Mai is certainly the trekking hub. The mountainous interior of the region, lush tropical vegetation and intriguing hill tribe villages which act as your hosts all add up to a fantastic experience among unspoilt nature. In fact you need to escape the tourist crowds of Chiang Mai then trekking is the prefect solution. If you are reasonably fit and don't mind 'roughing it' a little, this is a very worthwhile experience. The area is completely safe and the trekking is generally well organised, with registered guides leading you down well worn routes.
As long as you are prepared to pay decent money for a private trekking guide ($50/pax/day) you can organise a trek which emphasises your specific preferences. There's a guy right down my street here in Chiang Mai that has been doing private treks like this for many years - http://www.pooh-ecotrekking.com/Pooh.htm. He offers a 3-day trek for about $170/person based on two pax for example. It might involve a night in a village but how much time you spend there vs. on the trails nature-spotting and such is up to you. Email him at email@example.com and find out what can be arranged.