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Thailand forum

Bangkok and Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai

Posted by jcampbell3 on 16/5/2007 at 06:03

We cut down the length of our late June trip to Thailand to see more of Vietnam, where we've never been. Now will be arriving Bangkok midday Sunday and leaving early the next Saturday, leaving 5.5 days. We definitely want to spend some time outside of Bangkok, had thought of going to Chiang Mai midday Wednesday and returning Friday night. We went to Chiang Mai 15 years ago, wonder whether for such a short trip it might be worth trying Chiang Rai instead, even though our treking time would be limited. Advice appreciated! Thanks.

#1 jcampbell3 has been a member since 4/4/2007. Posts: 4

Posted by exacto on 16/5/2007 at 10:03

hey j,

have you considered trying something completely different instead, such as kanchanaburi instead of chiang mai or chiang rai? for my money, the two+ days in either northern city won't really be enough to justify the travel time or expense.

if you really wanted to head north, then mae hong son is another fascinating place to hang out for a few days.

i'd be interested to hear what others think, but in my experience chiang rai is really only a place to hq while you visit other nearby places, such as the border with burma, the golden triangle area, or a motorcycle/jeep ride in the mountains. otherwise, i'd pick chiang mai any time. unfortunately, i still feel that the few days you have aren't enough time to explore much of either area, let alone get out of the city or go on a trek, etc. that's why i thought kanchanaburi (or ayutthaya) might be a good alternative, since you can get a good feel for each place, both excellent destinations in their own right, with the short time you have available.

do you have fond memories of chiang mai 15 years ago? are you interested to see how much it has changed, or will those changes spoil the memory for you? are you the sort who likes to hire a jeep and make your own way around? if so, then chiang rai might be a good option. is budget a consideration, since with such a short time, you'll want to fly both ways.

what do others think? cheers.

#2 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,660
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Posted by Jon_Mak_Mak on 17/5/2007 at 00:29


I think for a short trip out of bangkok Kanchanaburi is a good idea. There isnt really much in chiang rai that isn't in Chaing mai (alot less infact) so i personally wouldn't wast time travelling up there.

Depends what sort of thing you like but Pattaya is only 2 hours out of bangkok as is Autthya and lopburi.

Next yeah im actually going down to krabi for 4 nights so I think its worth going there but I have been there a few times already.


#3 Jon_Mak_Mak has been a member since 21/2/2007. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 464

Posted by Tilapia on 17/5/2007 at 03:09

It's not long to go anywhere, really, but if you want to head north, I'd stop short of Chiangmai and go to Si Satchanalai. Not worth it if you aren't into temples, but the area really is special.

If you go to Kanchanaburi, take the train. Don't waste your precious time on the bus.

#4 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,499
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Posted by ernieh on 17/5/2007 at 16:36

Hi jcampbell3,

I would recommend Chiang Mai over Chiang Rai. Your not leaving yourself much time to experience the hilltribe area. I would recommend a 2-3 day trek. It's a big travel expense for only 1 day of trekking.

If you are still keen on going you can cut down on travel time by flying with Air Asia or Nok Air and take the night train coming back to Bangkok or vice versa.


#5 ernieh has been a member since 21/3/2007. Posts: 49

Posted by jcampbell3 on 18/5/2007 at 01:37

We were definitely planning to fly up to Chiang Mai, leave around 11 Weds and take the night flight back to Bangkok. Admittedly too short a time. Our memories of Bangkok aren't that great but we wanted to show it to our kids because it is such an experience. We went on a two day trek last time in Chiang Mai but don't have the time this time, so thought though that the city was smaller, had more local color etc. Perhaps a bad idea.

Hadn't thought of kanchanaburi. Would you stay overnight there, is there enough to do to justify? Thanks!

#6 jcampbell3 has been a member since 4/4/2007. Posts: 4

Posted by Tilapia on 18/5/2007 at 03:25

You bet!

Take the train to K-buri. The station is a short walk from the river (about 10 minutes) where most of the places to stay are. Most are right beside each other.
You can get a place on the river (floating on the river ... we stayed at Tamarind and loved it). Might be kind of special for the kids. The area is a bit of a scene, but a quiet one. The town is nice, and the other side of the river is great for cycling. You can catch the old pedestrian ferry across (run by the same dude who was running it 16 years ago when I first went). The older part of town is still charming. You can do a day trip to Erawan National Park where there is a 7-step waterfall. Stunning (!!!) and excellent for swimming if it's a hot one. Well worth the trip.

Kids might not be too interested in the bridge or the war museum. Adults might be.

Good luck.

#7 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,499
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Posted by exacto on 18/5/2007 at 08:08

Check out the Kanchanaburi section on Travelfish and I think you'll be surprised just how much there is to do both in town and on several out-of-town excursions. Tilapia is right too about taking the train. It's a great and affordable adventure. As much as I love Chiang Mai, I'd probably do the K-buri trip myself rather than spend all that time and money for just a few days up north. Whatever you decide, I hope you have a great time. Cheers.

#8 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,660
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