Hi, I am about to venture into Northern Region of Thailand for 12 days. I plan to start with Sukhothai (2 nights) -> Chiang Mai (1 night) -> Sappong (2 or 3 nights) -> Chiang Dao (2 night) -> Chiang Mai (1 night) -> Chiang Rai (2 nights). Mainly travel by bus or minibus and fly from Chiang Rai to Bangkok at the end. I worry the plan might be too ambitious, please help me with the following:
1. Does bus or minibus run from Chiang Mai to Sappong on weekends? Where to buy the ticket in Chiang Mai? Necessary to book in advance? schedule?
2. For buses or minibuses travel from Sappong to Chiang Dao, are they direct or need to pass through Chiang Mai? How long will it take? Where to buy the ticket in Sappong?
3. If I want to trek from Sappong to Chiang Dao ( 6-8 hours walk / day), how long will it take? Any recommendation for guides or tours? Is it easy to find guesthouses along the way?
4. Is it possible to hire taxi from Sappong to Chiang Dao? What will be the price range?
5. Both Sappong and Chiang Dao have famous caves, if I had to choose one to save time, which one is better?
6. How to travel from Chiang Dao to Chiang Rai by bus or minibus? Where to buy tickets? schedule?
#1 LadyKafka has been a member since 29/11/2016. Posts: 2
You're covering a lot of ground and I'd be inclined to choose between Soppong and Chiang Dao , but before your questions, I'd change your routing slightly to have two nights in Chiang Mai and continue straight to Chiang Rai from Chiang Dao - don't return to Chiang mai - instead continue north for the Kok River Boat trip to ChiangRai.
To your questions:
1) Runs daily and is a good idea to book in advance. You can book the tickets online here through our booking partner 12Go Asia - and get off at Soppong or any travel agent in Chiang Mai will sell you the ticket.
2) I'm not sure on availability of buses from Soppong to Chiang Dao, but they would be tourist minibuses (is a common route) - would assume any guesthouse will be able to sell you a ticket and the service would be direct - not via Chiang Mai.
3) No idea on this one - would be a long and hilly walk! I would **guess** 5-6 days and would not be cheap, you'd need to talk to trekking outfits in Soppong - or perhaps contact Chiang Dao Nest in Chiang Dao as they have an extensive range of treks on offer.
4) Yes, not sure on price sorry.
5) Difficult - I think Soppong is more impressive for the river and the bats but Chiang Dao also very large. If I had to choose I'd probably go with Soppong.
6) See here for transport ex ChiangDao
#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,789
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Thank you so much for the feedback, Travelfish really has been a great help for planning this trip! Kok River Boat trip to ChiangRai sounds fantastic, will definitely give it a go.
I have revised the travel plan as following: Sukhothai (2 nights) -> Chiang Mai (2 nights) -> Sappong (2 or 3 nights) -> Chiang Dao (2 or 3 nights) -> Chiang Rai (2 nights).
Few questions about the Kok River Boat trip,
- If leaving Chiang Dao in the morning by bus or minibus, is there enough time to arrive Tha Ton pier before 12pm? or it's necessary to stay at Tha Ton the night before?
- I will travel either on Fri or Sat, boats available on weekends?
- Cannot book bus ticket from Chiang Dao to Tha Ton via 12Go, where can I find out more info about bus schedule ?
#3 LadyKafka has been a member since 29/11/2016. Posts: 2
I don't know if my input will be much help, but husband and I spent two weeks in Northern Thailand in November, and covered some of the bases you would like to. We took the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai , and continued straight onward by minibus to Soppong the morning we arrived (I planned it this way because it looked like we would have to go back to CM to get to Tha Ton anyhow.) We spent four nights at the Soppong River Inn, which was wonderful. On one of our days there, we hired a guide, Toy (has an office on the main road, but Joy, the Guest House owner, had him drop by to discuss options), and the time we spent with him was one of the most memorable of our whole six week holiday. The day with him, in his pickup truck, cost us 1000 THB, and we spent seven hours on back roads, in hill tribe villages, and at the cave. He knew people everywhere we went, and had much knowledge to share, and it was super. From Soppong we took the minibus back to Chiang Mai for a few days, and then took the bus from the Chang Puak Bus Station (North Gate) to Tha Ton. The bus we were on also stopped in Chiang Dao, and the bus before ours only went as far as Chiang Dao, so I believe there are plenty of buses per day.. We spent two nights there, and booked the boat to Chiang Rai though our accommodation (Saranya River House): it was the same price as booking a private boat at the boat pier, and we could leave at a time that suited us, and stop wherever we wanted. It was well worthwhile, despite the rainy weather at that point. Anyhow, good luck with the planning!
#4 blvdve has been a member since 27/12/2011. Posts: 5