My original travel plans was about one and a half week in Northern Thailand and I was hoping to incorporate Chiang Mai, Pai, Soppong and Mae Hong Son in that time - for some trekking and then relaxing generally.
(by the way it's my first time in Thailand)
Anyhow, I'm now restricted with time as I realised I'll only have about 5 days in the North. So - I'd like to get some opinion from people as to whether it would still be worth it to try and get to Pai (because it sounds great!!) Or, should I divide my time between Chiang Mai and Pai? Or, should I skip Pai altogether? Should I make Chiang Mai a brief visit and then spend more time in Pai?
Ultimately I'm just looking for opinions on past experiences there. Thanks!!
#1 tennie has been a member since 6/4/2006. Posts: 17
it would be pretty easy to pass just five days right here in chiang mai by just wandering around and checking out the temples, shopping, massage joints, and lots of great places to eat. that is particularly true if this is your first trip to thailand. if you really wanted to see both spots, you should be able to squeeze in the side trip to pai. i'm seeing ads for buses or minibuses to pai for between 200 and 300 baht one way. sorry, but i don't know how long that drive takes.
an alternative might be heading to chiang dao. it's only 72 km north of chiang mai. buses depart for there about every 30 minutes from the chang puak bus station, and cost about 40 baht each way. we're planning on heading up there for a quick out-of-chiang mai trip this weekend to enjy the northern countryside and can let you know what we thought if you wish.
in any case, like somtam says, less is more. if you are really looking to have some quality chill out time, you might consider skipping pai and just relaxing in chiang mai.
i'll be interested to hear what others think too. hope that helps. cheers.
Thanks Exacto I would love hear from you about how it was like in Chiang Dao!!
I'm not that big a fan on temples so I'm only looking at checking out a couple of major ones in both Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
#3 tennie has been a member since 6/4/2006. Posts: 17
we had a great time in chiang dao, and it is an excellent 24- to 48-hour getaway from Chiang Mai. the best part is the forest and the greenery.
the bus will drop you off in chiang dao town, which is still a good 5 km from the chiang dao cave and 6 km from the two guesthouses listed here on travelfish. you'll need to hire a truck taxi to take you the rest of the way for 100 baht, or if you are travelling by yourself, you might be able to get a motorcycle taxi for 40 baht.
of those two guesthouses, i thought that chiang dao nest offered better value for lodging, but even that won't come cheap at about 600 baht per night. you might want to try to book ahead, as they are often full-up. they have an excellent western food menu, but if you are looking for good thai food, the malee's nature lovers bungalow right next door has a varied menu, including a 100 baht family-style buffet dinner option. worth a look.
the two main things to do in that area, besides be wowed by the scenery, are the chiang dao cave and the pha phloy temple. the cave is about 1 km from the guesthouses, and the temple about 1/2 km, but in the other direction. the cave is open until 5 pm, and costs 20 baht at the main entrance and another 100 baht inside for a guided tour by lantern. take the tour (up to 5 people for your 100 baht) - it is really great. the temple is along a 500 step staircase that leads straight up the mountain, and even if you are not into temples, this is worth it just for the scenery along the way.
i hope that helps and is enough info to get you started. the staff at both guest houses speak good english and can help you with other details. cheers.
Thanks for that tip Exacto!
It sounds like you are having a fantastic time - I can't wait to be there soon!!!
#5 tennie has been a member since 6/4/2006. Posts: 17
Chiang Dao Nest is awesome! We spent a couple of nights there in Feb and loved it! The food is top notch but comes with a price! It is not for those on a tight budget but well worth it.
We ended up in sitting in the kitchen with the lady cooks and Aie, the server, drinking cheak whiskey in a circle on the floor! It was great fun conversing with what little Thai I know! Laughter continued on late into the night. Oh what fun!
There is a good hike up over the mountain into the caves area. There is also a nice Wat at the top of a hill that is worth the climb for the spectacular view.
The bungalows were basic but very clean with western toilet and warm water showers. I called it our "jungalow' because it was a bungalow in a jungle setting. Beautiful!
#6 windjammer has been a member since 11/11/2005. Posts: 3