Chris, Tiarn and I, are back home after our 10½ week trip. We flew with AirAsia directly to Chiang Mai 2 hrs after our arrival in Bangkok. We also stayed at CM Blue Guest House. We were originally going to stay at a slightly cheaper GH (with a reputation for pushing their tours) but after all the great reviews, we decided CM Blue was a better option and wasn’t disappointed. Our hosts Tim and Tony were a font of information and the room was spacious and reasonably quiet.
We did the usual CM pursuits, walking most of the old city, visiting the wats, the night bazaar, the CM Art and Cultural Centre (90B) and Gap’s 1 day cooking class (900B) 10.00 - 16.30 (highly recommended – both instructors spoke English well and were very funny – a delightful day and we seriously ate too much.
If you are in CM on a Sunday, Thanon Ratchadamnoen is closed off from Tha Pae Gate for a couple of blocks west, for the night market. Many businesses in CM close early so the family can go together. This market has a totally different atmosphere compared to the night bazaar. Just local families strolling, eating and enjoying themselves. Goods on offer are different too. The food stalls around the wats allowed us to try things we hadn’t tasted, very cheaply. Tiarn is a bit funny about street food but she was giving lots of things a shot – fantastic. At 6pm the National anthem is played and everyone stands, freezes, complete silence bar the anthem (except from the tourists who don’t know what’s happening).
If you need to go to a hospital in CM, the Chiang Mai Ram Hospital near the Kad Suan Kaew Centre, is fantastic. Tiarn complained of a sore jaw for several days and we weren’t sure whether it was medical or dental, so we trotted off the hospital, in and out within 45 mins (impacted wisdom tooth), mini check up, consultation, antibiotics and painkillers. All for 890B – brilliant doctor, nurses, reception staff and pharmacist.
The Royal Flora Ratchapruek Expo was on while we were there, 30 countries displaying their flora and architectural style. Some of the displays were amazing, especially when lit up at night.
We caught a local bus (44B) to the Elephant Conservation Centre (70B) near Lampang, I love it when we are the only foreigners on the bus. The elephants are bathed at 9.45 and 13.15, the elephants display their talents at 10.00, 11.00 and 13.30.
For the last 2 days of our 11 night stay we hired a car. All the travel agents charge 500B each for a ½ day tour of Doi Suthep, and 1700B each for a 1 day tour to Doi Inthanon National Park - as there were 3 of us it was cheaper to hire a Suzuki 4WD at 800B per day.
Day 1, we visited Doi Inthanon the highest point in Thailand (and it’s cold up there), – the Great Holy Relics Pagoda of Nabhamethanidol – Nabhapolbhumisiri are impressive chedi’s with spectacular views , Mae Ya waterfall – believed the highest in the country, Mae Chaem, Hot and Chom Thong. The roads are steep and winding, there are many waterfalls to visit and we had the freedom to stop off wherever we chose, many times we were alone.
Day 2, Huay Kaew waterfall, Doi Suthep (so crowded!), Chiang Dao Cave with lunch at the Chiang Dao Nest. We managed to get lost around Phrao trying to return to Chiang Mai without back tracking – the road getting smaller and smaller, with more and more chickens, pigs and dogs on the road. We stopped at a stall where hand gestures, “Chiang Mai?” and “1 kilometre” was enough to get us on the right track again. Back in CM by sunset.
The cost of doing this by organised tour 6600B (they don’t offer the chance of ever getting lost – and that’s the fun part) compared to our 3720B including car hire, 600 kms worth of petrol, park entrance fees and penalties for being a foreigner, periods of solitude and silence thrown in for free. We scored a bargain and had a ball.
Booked in for The Gibbon Experience in Laos on 29th Nov, so time to leave CM. Bus from CM - Chiang Rai (2nd Class A/C 180B 3 ¼ hours). CR – Chiang Khong (local bus 57B 2 ¼ hours). Baan Rim Taling Homestay (300B triple) – good food.
Farewell to Thailand for now.
Travel well fishies
#1 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270
Thank you for the excellent advice. I'm in the process of figuring out our itinerary for March and April, and it just so turns out that your activities are pretty much exactly what we're doing as well!.. So the insights are welcome. We will also rent a 4WD to get out of Chiang Mai - great tip! We're also going to the Gibbon Experience and I'd love to hear what you thought of your experiences there and what advice you'd have for us.
Thanks for sharing.
I've written another trip report 'Huay Xai to Luang Prabang' and also there is a thread in the Laos message board titled 'gibbons' (around late Nov) which is more specific to the Gibbon X. If you want to read those and you still have unanswered ?'s will be happy to help if I can.
#4 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270
Yes!!! I am new to the message board and found your further trip report and teh gibbons thread shortly after posting here... But thanks for the reply! I hope that your friends has recovered from the head wound! Yikes! What a thing to have happen on vacation...
- James and Lindsay
Canucks(about to be)in Asia
Can you provide me with details regarding catching the bus from CM - Chiang Rai (2nd Class A/C 180B 3 ¼ hours). CR – Chiang Khong (local bus 57B 2 ¼ hours). Baan Rim Taling Homestay (300B triple) – good food.
I am also staying at Baan Rim Taling but need to know exactly where is the bus station at Chiang Mai, what is the name of the company, so I can book once I arrive in late March or do you have a website.
Did you pre book or once you arrived. Did you have to wait long for the connection between CR and CK bus. Many thanks Linda
#6 lindaparry has been a member since 22/8/2007. Posts: 7
Just take a tuk tuk or songthaew to the Northern bus station. I think there is only 1 govt. bus company for this route. All the ticket sellers have their destinations above their window. We didn't prebook, arrived around 9ish - had to wait until 10.30 (so most probably missed 2 bus departures). Late March isn't peak season so it's up to you whether you go to the effort of going out to the bus station to buy your ticket in advance or just get to the station early on the day you want to leave. Even with the 10.30 dept we still arrived at Baan Rim Taling around 4 - 4.30pm.
The connection between CR and CK was off the bus, grab the luggage, jump on to the bonerattler - pay for your ticket on board- about 15 mins.
Hope this helps
#7 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270