I'll be going to Chiangmai in early December 06, and I'm planning to make a 3-day excursion out of Chiangmai. I'm looking for a quiet, beautiful place to chill-out. I wouldn't mind joining a 1-day hike/bamboo rafting/elephant. I'll be using public transportation. Any advice, please?
Welcome to Travelfish!
if you want to do bamboo rafting and elephant riding then Pai is your best option -- as it has the widest range of possibilities. For off the beaten track trekking, Chiang Dao is great while the caving around Soppong is terrific.
Pai has dozens of places to stay, while Soppong and Chiang Dao have but a handful -- so if you're wanting to meet other travellers, Pai is your best bet.
Chiang Dao is the closest to Chiang Mai, but all are easily reached by public transport.
#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,706
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[q]I'm looking for a quiet, beautiful place to chill-out. I wouldn't mind joining a 1-day hike/bamboo rafting/elephant. I'll be using public transportation. Any advice, please?[/q]
I agree with Somtam, if you want to meet fellow travellers, Pai is the place. I also have some info for Chiang Dao on Rafting and Elephant riding....
Up here you can rent a whole raft (with the guy who guides it) for 120 Baht total, with as much people as you can fit on it. You can also go elephant riding at the elephant training center, I think it's around 600 Baht for 1 1/2 hours and our customers said it was fun. They also have the show there....you know...the log rolling, trunk painting of pictures, etc.
There are also trekks up here, but I am not sure how good they are. I have heard mixed reviews. Therefore, I always suggest, rent a bike somewhere and go off on your own, exploring. There are some beautiful, secluded villages, parks, hotsprings, etc. within about 30 miles of Chiang Dao.
As for accommodations, there are quite a few more this year than there were last year, but not as many as in Pai. There are lots of vacancies though, because most of them don't do a lot of advertising and sit almost empty.
We don't have as much foreign food up here as in Pai. Right now, we have our place "Mon and Kurt's Restaurant and Guesthouse", the Restaurant at Rainbow Resort, which does Greek food, Cafe Cafe, Downtown, which does coffee, ice cream, some beers and some food and The Nest 1 and 2, which also have excellent food ( a little pricier, but really good at Nest 1) Malee's Guesthouse also has a restaurant and so does Yangtone Farmstay for their guests.
For places to stay, you can find at least a dozen places, probably a lot more, in the 190 Baht - 3000 Baht price range. Most of them average around 500 - 700 Baht per night.
So Pai is definitely cheaper and has more foreigners who hang out there.
In Chiang Dao here, we attract more people who look for a quiet place to chill.
I used to love hanging out in Pai, before we moved to Chiang Dao. Had a lot of fun up there. If you are not that much into nature and you like to party, then you will probably prefer Pai over Chiang Dao.
As for public transportation, if you do come to Chiang Dao, take the bus or Song Theaw from Chang Phuak Bus Station, in Chiang Mai. It's 40 Baht and 1 1/2 hours to Chiang Dao. If you want, you can come here, by going 2.5km past the Chiang Dao 7/11 on the bus or songtheaw and then ask them to stop and drop you off, when you see the black/red/yellow "Mon and Kurt's Restaurant" signs, just before the big corner.
We are booked solid for around that time, but my wife and I can call one of the other resorts to pick you up for free, which saves you the 200 Baht, you would pay for a songtheaw, if you got off in downtown Chiang Dao.
Don't worry, we don't get any kickbacks. We just want to give more exposure to our restaurant and also to try to support other resort owners who come eat at our restaurant. (but I will tell you about all places that are here, not just the ones who eat here, don't worry ;-)
The only drawback here is, that you might be paying 500 Baht per night, if the few budget places are booked, while Pai offers a lot of variety of places and most of them a lot cheaper.
So whatever you decide, have a great holiday. Thailand is an awesome place to visit.
Mon and Kurt
#3 globalgypsy has been a member since 12/11/2006. Posts: 12