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Help and advice for 1st timer to Thailand

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Qld , Australia
posts: 13
Help and advice for 1st timer to Thailand

My hubby & I and our 2 teen kids ( 16 & 18 ) will be visiting Chiang Mai for 8 nights. Looking at booking Away Suansawan for 3 nights and Salbury GH for the other 5. Four star country and two star city l thought would be a good mix of experiences. What are the tours we should book which are closer to the Mae Rim area? If we hire a car for a few days are we covered properly by insurance or are we best to hire a driver for this part of the world ? I have heard mixed reviews and am really unsure. Is Chaing Rai really a must see ? Was origionaly thinking of a couple of nights up there instead of Mae Rim and going on the ATV day tour , white temple , museum , and maybe the triangle ??? Hubby not so fussed on all the travelling ( wants to relax too ). Any sugestions and advice would be greatly appreciated. Also which is the better of the two the gibbon zipline or the flying squirrels? And which elephant park where we can have a ride on their neck in a fairly natural enviroment which the animals are truely well cared for ? First time posting so hope this is ok !

Brisbane, Australia
Destination Expert
for Chiang Mai
posts: 8,317
reviews: 30
1. Re: Help and advice for 1st timer to Thailand

Hi Tracey,

Welcome to the forum.

I'll just say straight up - if it were me with two teens - I would reverse your bookings. I'd spend two nights in the Mae Rim area and five in the city.

Others can give you their opinion - but I think you will regret not having long enough in Chiang Mai city - and have little to do out in the country side. If you were on your honeymoon, or you were travelling for three weeks through Thailand, then sure.... stay longer in the countryside and relax. However, having teens myself - I'd say, you will regret only having two nights in the city.

Part of the charm of Chiang Mai is that it is such a wonderful city for exploring. There are hidden treasures all over the place - from the colourful local markets, to the 300 temples you can wander into, to the second hand bookshops, cool bars and coffee shops.... just to name a few.

We stumbled across the wonderful Art Cafe and Meeting Space - this is just one example. The owner has an eclectic collection of books from all around the world. He has created a wonderful space where local artists can work and exhibit for free. He is also a music producer. We could barely tear our 15 year old son away from here. The owner even (kindly) put some of my sons music on in the cafe for a while. This is just one example of the kind of things you can find in Chiang Mai.

Everything in the Mae Rim is easily accessible on a day trip - however, a couple of nights would be something different. I think five nights with teens will drive you nuts.

Re-consider - there are some wonderful small Thai style B&Bs, guest houses and small hotels in Chiang Mai that you can check into and relax around the pool inbetween exploring the city. Your teens will love the night markets -and the great riverside bars and restaurants (some with live music).

There are a number of elephant camps who do not use tricks and shows or baskets. The Thai Elephant Home is one - see FAQ top right for others.

Our family did the half day at Flight of the Gibbon and loved it.

Chiang Rai is a great side trip. The hill tribe experience and city itself - plus the majestic White Temple are all worth the trip. However, if you are going to relax, well, it depends on how you want to spend the holiday....

All the best,

Caroline.

Paphos, Cyprus
Destination Expert
for Paphos
posts: 2,891
reviews: 34
2. Re: Help and advice for 1st timer to Thailand

CM is unusual in that it is a city where it's easy to relax. There's heaps to see and do, but you can also just wander, potter in and out of places, have coffee, enjoy a meal etc.....and generally chill.

Agree with Caroline that you will enjoy more of your time spent in CM.

Trisha

Qld , Australia
posts: 13
3. Re: Help and advice for 1st timer to Thailand

Caroline thank you so much for your honest reply. I am still tossing around ideas on the type of accomodation now ( well mainly the kidults for our sanity !!!! ) but will definately be spending our time in the city. Your feedback has been extremely helpful.

Qld , Australia
posts: 13
4. Re: Help and advice for 1st timer to Thailand

Thanks for your reply Trisha. Is CM safe enough for teens to stroll around evenings / night time themselves ? They are not young teens ( daughter 18 and son near 17 )but having not travelled before we are unsure. Would love some feedback on this too. Thanks from Tracey.

Brisbane, Australia
Destination Expert
for Chiang Mai
posts: 8,317
reviews: 30
5. Re: Help and advice for 1st timer to Thailand

I would let a 17 and 18 year old stroll around at night. I think they'll be fine.

A friend just booked a two bed apartment at Sakorn Residence - it is in the riverside area. She contacted the hotel directly and was offered this for her family. Sakorn Residence is a three star hotel with a decent pool. This would give you a lot of space. You could also just book two separate rooms here - I think they are about $35A a night inc breakfast.

if your teens are happy to share lots of hotels have connecting rooms - not exactly sure of your budget, but another 3 star option is Ban Thai Village which is in a soi off the Thae Phae Rd towards the night bazaar and not far from the old city.

I think Rimping Village has a family suite but not sure of the bedding configuration. The Baan Orapin has two family suites, we book one of these for our two kids. However, the second bedroom has a Queen bed, not two singles, so wouldn't be suitable for your two - unless you booked two superior rooms and one was a twin rather than a Queen. These might be out of your budget because more 4 star.

Raming Lodge is another one really popular with families.

A super budget hotel with a pool worth a look is Changpuak - it is North of the old city. Rooms only about $25A a night. A friend just stayed there with two kids the same age as yours. She loves it. I'd say two star.

All the best,

Caroline.

Edited: 7:22 pm, April 21, 2013
Colorado
Destination Expert
for Chiang Rai, Chiang Rai Province
posts: 3,231
reviews: 126
6. Re: Help and advice for 1st timer to Thailand

Chiang Rai is a great side trip, especially if you are interested in hilltribe life, the White Temple and the country side. There are great raft trips down the Me Kok River, elephant riding in Ruammit, trips to Mae Salong or the border of Thailand/Burma. However, it is not a day trip from Chiang Mai, so if you decide to spend time in Chiang Rai, I would suggest one or two overnights.

The city of Chiang Rai itself will not offer the kind of night life and as much people watching as you would find in Chiang Mai, so whether it is worth it to you to take a side trip depends on the kind of holiday you desire.

Maybe go on the Chiang Rai forum and look at the FAQ section in the right hand corner and read the "Top 30 things" to do and some of the prior trip reports and see if it suits your interests.

Safe Travels,

Broder

Brisbane, Australia
Destination Expert
for Chiang Mai
posts: 8,317
reviews: 30
7. Re: Help and advice for 1st timer to Thailand

You could substitute your two nights in the Mae Rim for two nights in Chiang Rai. It is easy to get up there on the bus - only 300B each way. There is an FAQ about getting from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai that may help you decide.

Also, I agree with Broder - the top 30 on the CR forum is well worth a look.

Caroline.

Qld , Australia
posts: 13
8. Re: Help and advice for 1st timer to Thailand

Am onto it. Thanks for your info. Am sure to have more questions soon !

minneapolis/saint...
posts: 1
reviews: 28
9. Re: Help and advice for 1st timer to Thailand

I fully agree that spending time IN Chiang Mai is worth it, and I would also allow the "kids" to wander on their own. I would make sure they had some money and a card for your guesthouse to show a taxi to get home if they get lost.

About riding elephants. I've never seen anyone but the Mahout ride on the elephant's neck. The Mahout is the elephant's lifelong caregiver. You would ride seated on a bench that's behind the Mahout. Two people sit on the bench, you'll feel like you could slide off but I don't know anyone who has. My last ride was just us with the elephant and Mahout, no other travelers, it's the standard seating arrangement.

Depending on where you're from, it's hot and humid in Thailand and pushing too hard can end badly so don't try and fit too much into a day.

Important: The street food is safe. I eat there all the time. I really like the green sticky rice. NOT joking.

Enjoy!

Qld , Australia
posts: 13
10. Re: Help and advice for 1st timer to Thailand

Green sticky rice !!!! Whats that !!!!

As for the elephants lm sure l have seen photos of people , other than the Mahout , on their neck and not sitting in a basket on their back.I understand alot of people have mixed opinions on riding elephants at all for numerous reasons ,so without opening up a "whole can of worms" , can anyone tell me if its better for the elephant to be sitting on the animals neck rather than in a basket on their back.Or does it make no difference to the elephant ? I thought l had read something about this somewhere but cant find it now.

Thanks Tracey