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7 days in chiang mai...what to do?

Posted by alexizfresh on 5/10/2015 at 17:38

Hey all, 1st and foremost I want to thank everyone who participates in this forum and works on this website -- fantastic stuff. Planning my trip has been much easier with your help.

Anyhow, I have 7 days planned in Chiang Mai from Nov 20-Nov 27. This is my honeymoon but we aren't really the sleep in bed all day kind of couple -- we traveled around the world, we want to see and do things!

So far I have the following activities planned;

1) an all day cooking class
2) a full day at the elephant nature park
3) explore Doi suthep (ideally we''d like to see Wat Doi Suthep , do some light hiking , maybe bathe in some of the waterfalls ) (do we need a tour guide for this? is it possible to do all of this on foot?)
4) Flight of the gibbon? (not entirely sure about doing this-- I've never done zip lining)
5) I think this day we'd like to hang wander around chaing mai, go to the temples etc because it's Loy Krathong/ Yee Peng (any recommendations on where to go to partake in this other than the $100 per person event?)
6) ??
7) ??

other than that, I have no real plans, I have another 2 weeks in the country, 1 in Bangkok , the other will be in the islands. Any recommendations on what to do would be much appreciated. I would consider doing anything from going to another town and spending a night or two there or just doing a day trip. I've looked in to doing some trekking however I'm a bit on the fence about them. Any recommendations on a respectfully/ non touristy trek? I looked in to the pooh eco trekking over night trek and it seemed interesting.


this will be my honeymoon, I've never been to south east Asia before.

#1 alexizfresh has been a member since 20/4/2015. Posts: 10

Posted by Gogomobile on 5/10/2015 at 18:12

No need to plan out a whole week of activities. Sometimes just eating and getting a massage is good, especially on a honeymoon.

All these tours can be booked in town and often the night before.

If you want something with less tourists (CM is mega touristy) spend a day or 2 in Lampang or head up to Chiang Dao.

Another option is do a tour to Mae Hong Son or drive yourself.

With Bangkok, add on a 2 night trip to Kanchanaburi.

#2 Gogomobile has been a member since 14/4/2015. Posts: 412

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Posted by Gogomobile on 5/10/2015 at 18:15

Loy Krathong can be experienced for free. Dont pay $100. Thai festivals are mostly about food as much as anything.

#3 Gogomobile has been a member since 14/4/2015. Posts: 412

Posted by exacto on 5/10/2015 at 18:42

Very good suggestions from Gogomobile, and I'll second that just finding a fun place to eat and getting a massage or three is good. You'll find plenty of both in Chiang Mai .
In addition to Lampang, which I really liked, and Chiang Dao, which I loved, you could (or instead) make a quick trip south of Chiang Mai to Lampoon. There is an interesting ancient temple there, and it is worth the bus or train ride just to have a look around.

In addition to Kanchanaburi, Ayutthaya is a good day trip or quick overnight out of Bangkok. If you are taking the train to Bangkok from Chiang Mai, you could jump off early for a visit to Ayutthaya as well.

Don't over plan your trip. In most cases, less is more, and you'll have a great time just getting to know Thailand as you go. Cheers.

#4 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,764
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Posted by alexizfresh on 5/10/2015 at 20:05

appreciate the tips guys.

my only concern is, because of Loy Krathong, things are getting booked quickly.

I already purchased by overnight train ticket from BKK to CM so unfortunately cant make a diversion.

Is there anyone that can give me more info about Doi suthep? I'd like to do some hiking and then visit the temple -- is it possible to do both without a tour guide?

#5 alexizfresh has been a member since 20/4/2015. Posts: 10

Posted by Gogomobile on 5/10/2015 at 22:08

Tours rarely get booked out and CM has about 20 to choose from. Temples can be visited without a guide and Ive never hired a guide to visit a temple. Sometimes it is easier to book a temple tour than do it yourselves but it can be done either way.

What are they offering for a $100 loy krathong tour? In Thailand a typical 1 day tour costs about $30 pp or 900 baht. They are always cheaper when booked locally.

#6 Gogomobile has been a member since 14/4/2015. Posts: 412

Posted by Gogomobile on 5/10/2015 at 22:13

Jungle hikes are best on a tour unless you drive to a national park that has walking trails. For a 1st timer it would be easier to book a 2 day tour that includes a hike or 2.

I would suggest day 1 just relax and visit travel agent/tour desk in hotel once there and see what tours you can do.

#7 Gogomobile has been a member since 14/4/2015. Posts: 412

Posted by Captain_Bob on 6/10/2015 at 02:27

Loy Krathong week is indeed busy, and good you already booked a train up here in advance. I'd also book a room in advance for the whole week, somewhere close to the Old City/ Thaphae Gate area if possible. Forget the $100 lantern launch event, it's a ripoff and already sold out anyway. Just stay in town for the festival, tons of activities day and night. Elephant Nature Park books up solid for weeks or even months so hopefully you've booked that as well. Otherwise there are plenty of other elephant camps. There are also a bunch of zipline operators in the CM area, with Flight of the Gibbon being the original and most expensive. Have a look at Jungle Flight and Flying Squirrels for example. Most offer full or half-day packages, and just about any travel agent can book one of the various zips without much advance notice.

As for Doi Suthep (Doi Pui) the simplest way is get a red truck (songthaew) shared taxi from outside the zoo entrance or near Chang Peuak Gate (north city wall) or just tell any tuk tuk driver "Doi Suthep" and they'll drop you where the songthaews go up. For more freedom (and if you have riding experience) rent a scooter and self-ride up. There's a lot more to see than the famous touristy temple. Continue up to Phuping Palace and then turn up towards the summit and there is a campground with walking trails, coffee plantation with tasting, botanical gardens with wildflowers in Nov-Jan, and a couple Hmong hilltribe villages. If motorbiking isn't your thing hire a songthaew/driver for the day and agree where to go and price in advance. There is a park headquarters just up from the temple which has info and maps of trails, but note most actual trails are unmarked, primarily exist for hilltribe folk.

For your other unplanned days there's plenty of random things to do - more temples of course all over the place, tons of great food (restaurants, food stalls), walking street markets (Saturday outside the southern gate, Sunday in the old city, and more during festivals) and of course the busy Night Bazaar every evening, see a Muay Thai fight, walk along the river at night (beware fireworks during the festival ;-). For private less touristy treks keep looking at Pooh's - been around a long time, very experienced. You can go a lot cheaper in a group-based routine trek, but you get what you pay for. Anyway there's a load of potential activity to pack into a week.

#8 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,951

Posted by asiantraveler on 6/10/2015 at 13:36

For your week on an island, try Koh Phangan. Although famous for being a party island there are lots of beaches that are very quiet, maybe even deserted during low season.

Beautiful jungle and beaches on the east side of the island!

#9 asiantraveler has been a member since 3/5/2015. Location: Netherlands. Posts: 54
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Posted by Gogomobile on 6/10/2015 at 21:22

Kpn and samui gets rainy in Nov/Dec but less crowded and cheaper than Phuket so it might suit.

Lanta is a quieter option on the west coast.

#10 Gogomobile has been a member since 14/4/2015. Posts: 412

Posted by Captain_Bob on 13/10/2015 at 08:00

This might make some think twice about ziplines. I'd still do it, but the staff need to stick with 100% safety procedures.

#11 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,951

Posted by Gogomobile on 13/10/2015 at 19:10

I wouldnt do it. Thai safety standards are very poor.

#12 Gogomobile has been a member since 14/4/2015. Posts: 412

Posted by guernseydan on 25/10/2015 at 14:33

Mountain Biking in Chiang Mai was one of my trip highlights, for about 1500bhat there is a day trip that you can do, get driven up Doi Suthep and ride down old ttrails stopping in a village and finishing at a lake

#13 guernseydan has been a member since 26/12/2010. Posts: 52
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