Posted by mtbakerstu on 10/6/2018 at 12:14
I'm planning my first trip to Thailand in December, and am giving myself a couple of weeks.
My plan is to spend a small amount of time in Bangkok, and from there travel to Chiang Mai.
I would also like to spend some time in some small Buddhist village that is more esoteric, off the more mainstream path.
After my time in the north, I will spend some time on the islands before heading home.
Would love to get some suggestions! Thanks in advance for any feedback.
#1 mtbakerstu has been a member since 28/5/2016. Posts: 25
Posted by exacto on 10/6/2018 at 18:37
Chiang Dao comes immediately to mind, as it is close to Chiang Mai, and covers some of the things you are seeking. I really like the mountain top temple there. You might look into Mae Hong Son too; it isn't off the beaten path so much anymore, but it still is unique and interesting.
You could also make your way south to Sukhothai, then over to Si Satchanalai.
Also, I've never been myself, but I think Mae Sot or Sangkhlaburi might be exactly what you are looking for. It just depends on how much time you have and how much effort you are willing to make to get there. Two weeks fills up quickly, and you've already got a lot on your plate with Bangers, Chiang Mai, and the Islands already. Cheers.
#2 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,812
Posted by mtbakerstu on 10/6/2018 at 19:54
Some fantastic places to contemplate here, thanks Exacto! Happy Travels All.
#3 mtbakerstu has been a member since 28/5/2016. Posts: 25
Posted by amnicoll on 11/6/2018 at 05:04
Have not been myself to Chiang Dao but a good choice from what I have heard
However I am not sure that I would call the other places suggested by exacto villages. You could stop along the way between Mae Hong Song and Mae Sot in random village but finding accommodation may be problematic (as it would in most villages so staying in a town and venturing out during the day may be the optimum solution)
One more for the list Nan Province
#4 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 976
Posted by exacto on 11/6/2018 at 11:54
amincoll is right on the village issue.
Although I think Si Satchanalai qualifies, and Sangkhlaburi is quaint enough to be considered such, Sukhothai, Mae Hong Son, and Mae Sot certainly aren't villages. I was trying to suggest locations that had most of what the OP was seeking, that were fairly easy to reach and had some sort of tourist infrastructure. But I should have been clearer about that.
I also agree than Nan Province is an excellent place to consider. Regards.
#5 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,812
Posted by DLuek on 12/6/2018 at 03:34 TF writer
A lot of good suggestions so far. Below are mime. Bear in mind that some of these require out-of-the-way side journeys. Sangkhlaburi and Umphang are good examples, but for both of those (and others), the roads leading to them pass through some very beautiful countryside. I'm just going to throw down some possibilities and you can look them up on a map to see if they could fit into your travel plans.
- Si Satchanalai: Actually consists of two small villages, each with homestays, on either side of 1,000-year-old ruins from the Sukhothai kingdom and previous. There are also ancient pottery and burial sites to observe. Si Satch draws few visitors on weekdays -- I've seen maybe a dozen people on two visits, and there are a lot of ruins. Most are quite damaged and most visitors only hit 4-5 main sites. But if you're looking for a place to slowly walk/meditate around ancient Buddhist ruins in peace and quiet, come here. Ban Na Ton Chan is another village near Si Satch that has homestays and a stray elephant care centre; I've not been but could also be worth a look.
- Umphang: This would be a fairly significant side trip, around a full day of travel away from the main Bangkok-Chiang Mai route, with 6 hours of it coming in the back of a songthaew on the "Death Highway" with its thousand-something switchback turns. But once you get to Umphang, you find a special place with available access to some incredible waterfalls, rafting, etc., in the surrounding jungle. Most of the area is settled by Karen and there are also a couple of large camps housing refugees -- tens of thousands just in this district and many more closer to Mae Sot -- who have been fleeing an armed conflict between the Karen National Army and Myanmar government forces, usually due to mistreatment (an understatement) by government forces, for decades now.
- Bo Kluea: In Nan province, way up in the mountains near Doi Phu Kha and other national parks, this tiny, remote village has a few little temples and is known for its ancient salt well. Terraced paddies and farms on mountain slopes fill the surrounding countryside. It's a bit of a pain to reach by public transport, but doable. In the past we've rented motorbikes in Nan and cruised up here, or come by car.
- Mae Salong : Set high up in the mountains, this village is well worth visiting, even if it draws its share of Thai tourists and a handful of Westerners. It was mainly settled by Chinese immigrants, many of them from Yunnan, remnants of the Kuomintang after it was defeated by Mao Tse Tung in the mid 20th century. Surrounding the village are steep mountain slopes and valleys filled with tea plantations. Mae Salong is not exactly "on the beaten track," but if you want to get further out there, check out the old drug-smuggling village of Hin Taek further north, or Hloyo a bit further south. Hloyo is a tiny Akha village; the people are not Buddhist but rather practice a blend of Christianity and animism. A few years back we stayed at a homestay there called Akha Mudhouse, and I would definitely recommend it. All of this is in north-central Chiang Rai province.
- Ban Prasat: This tiny village is in Northeastern Thailand (Isaan), so would require an easterly curve through Nakhon Ratchasima province on your way north. It's set beside a river and is very quiet, with several households specialising in handmade crafts such as silk and reed mats. There are several homestays and at least one village temple. What put the place on the map are a few ancient burial sites that are free to visit. It's only around 15 km from Phimai, which I'd call a small town, but is also well worth visiting for its Khmer ruins.
- Dan Sai: This is the Phi Ta Khon village between Phitsanulok and Loei. In addition to the freaky masks, it hosts some beautiful old temples.
- Sangkhom: Now we may be getting too far northeast for you, but this village by the Mekong River is worth mentioning because, well, it's just beautiful country up there, and there are several forest temples and some waterfalls and viewpoints scattered around the area. There are many other villages found all up and down the Mekong that are virtually unknown, but can be a joy to visit. If you make it to this area, do check out Phu Phra Bat Historical Park.
#6 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,344
Posted by amnicoll on 12/6/2018 at 04:16
Some excellent suggestions from DLuek, indeed a couple to add to my list for the future which I have not been to yet
you do not have that long so chose carefully so as not to lose too much time traveling. I loved Umpang but unless things have changed then getting there from Chiang Mai means a very early start so as not to miss the last songthaew from Mae Sot
#7 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 976
Posted by mtbakerstu on 16/6/2018 at 14:15
Wow, back to the forum after a week of thoughtful and detailed input/suggestions. A lifetime's worth of potential adventures and experiences. Dluek, thanks for the paragraphical breakdowns / descriptions! Will spend the next month in itinerary research mode, utilizing ALL of this input. For this season, and hopefully for many seasons to come.
#8 mtbakerstu has been a member since 28/5/2016. Posts: 25
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