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Please help with itinerary

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Doncaster, England
posts: 227
reviews: 11
Please help with itinerary

Hi, we are planning to visit Chiang Rai - arriving mid morning and staying 6 nights flying out late in the evening. Some years ago we visited the triangle where the 3 countries meet so not desperate to go again and are going to burma subsequently so don't need to cross the border. we had thought to visit Nan but Mae Salong sounds good too. I would like to see the white temple and the Queen Mothers gardens. I really cant get a feel for what is possible in the time available - no idea how long it would take to reach Nan or Mae Salong. Whether we could do a tour around or need to keep going back to Chiang Rai. Any advice would be appreciated.

Thank you!

Chiang Rai, Thailand
posts: 727
reviews: 21
1. Re: Please help with itinerary

Hi Elephantlover

Welcome to the Chiang Rai forum!

Check out Broder's FAQ- Top 30 things to do and the attractions in the main TA website, some of which are relatively new. The road to Nan is spectacular, though Nan itself less so, and both the road to Mae Salong and the village itself is spectacular too and well worth an overnight trip, I usually stay at Little Home guest house, though I did do a day trip there this week when I was at a lose end because of rain.

The White Temple is a love it or hate it kind of place and gets very mixed reviews, but if you haven't seen it before, you should definitely go, even better in my opinion is the Black House, Ban Si Damm, often called the Black Temple (closes noon).

I am sure you will get a few other posts with suggestions of what to do.

Have a great time here, I am from W. Yorkshire myself.

Bruce

Chiang Rai, Thailand
posts: 727
reviews: 21
2. Re: Please help with itinerary

Since you're an Elephantlover, you should also do the long tailed boat ride up to Ruammit Elephant camp where can ride one if you wish. The nicest way to catch this is to do something in the morning, have the all you can buffet in the Rimkok Resort and use their private boat station at the hotel to catch the long tailed boat. You can also swim in their pool if your hotel doesn't have one. You could visit the White Temple and Black House in the morning before doing this and make a great day of it.

Do you need any advice on hotels?

Bruce

Colorado
Destination Expert
for Chiang Rai, Chiang Rai Province
posts: 3,260
reviews: 124
3. Re: Please help with itinerary

Hi Elephant Lover:

Nice to have you join us on the Chiang Rai forum.

With six days you have enough time to see a lot of the area around Chiang Rai. Though I love the town of Chiang Rai, the area that surrounds it offers incredible scenery and areas to explore.

If you have been to the Golden Triangle (where the three countries meet), I'd probably skip it this time, especially if you were there a few years ago. In the last 4 years or so it has become quite built up and very commercialized, even with casinos on the Laos side.

Visiting the Queen Mother's gardens and villa in Doi Tung can easily be combined with visiting Mae Salong and with a drive on the border road between Mae Sai and Doi Tung. The border road (between Burma and Thailand) is stunning, as is the drive from Doi Tung to Mae Salong. I find the Doi Tung gardens to be a bit too touristy for me, and very similar to gardens we have in the U.S., but I know other people who absolutely love them. If you haven't previously visited, it is worth the trip. The border road between Burma and Thailand is one of my favorite drives.

Chiang Rai to Mae Salong is about a 1.5 hour drive. You could start with a trip to Mae Salong, which is to the northwest of Chiang Rai, and then travel to Doi Tung, then take the border road to Mae Sai, and stop in Chiang Saen on the way back down to Chiang Rai. You could also do the reverse. Either way, it is a big circle.

I would suggest staying overnight a night or two in Mae Salong. The King's Mother's shrine (and the 718 steps to the top) provide a breathtaking view, the morning market is a charming view of local life and there are a lot of hilltribes in the area if you care to visit. There is also a museum of the Chinese military resistance that provides a great history of the area and explains why the town is primarily Chinese. There are also a lot of tea plantations you can visit and a delightful little afternoon market. I have stayed at Little Home for years. The thought of a glass of wine on one of the bungalow porches at Little Home always means tranquility and peace to me.

Chiang Saen provides some great Wats to visit and a charming little town also. Certainly worth a stop if you haven't been there before.

You could consider a raft trip down the Mae Kok or a long tail boat ride, both of which will place you in Raummit, by the elephant camp. Raummit itself is worth a wander through the town. There are women weaving on their front steps if you walk back among the village homes. And if you would like, you can ride elephants.

I also like visiting the Buddhist Meditation Cave, which has a fascinating long history. This is a good thing to do on the way back from Raummit.

With as much time as you have, you might also want to visit the monks on horseback. It is a good thing to do on the way to Mae Salong, but you have to arrive about 7:30 a.m. to participate in the morning tradition of providing food to the monks.

I am a fan of the White Temple. I find it beautiful and I really love the Artist's Museum that is across the street from the temple. Few people visit the museum (which is also free) but I could spend a couple of hours in it each time I visit.

Let us know if you need more ideas.

Safe Travels,

Broder

Doncaster, England
posts: 227
reviews: 11
4. Re: Please help with itinerary

Hi,

Thanks so much for the generous advice. I'm going to consult a map and try and work out the route based on your suggestions. Looks like Nan is out for this visit. I'm thinking that the best thing to do would be to go straight from the airport to Mae Salong for a couple of nights. I have been to Chiang Rai a long time ago and don't remember being overly impressed so would I be right in thinking as we dont fly out of Chiang Rai till late evening is I just book one night in Chiang Rai but have almost two full days that will be enough? Will be back with my itinerary and advice for hotels though I can see everyone gives a big thumbs up to Little Home.

Thank You!

Chiang Rai, Thailand
posts: 727
reviews: 21
5. Re: Please help with itinerary

You will love it in Mae Salong & Little Home, it is a great place to just kick back and decompress.

Colorado
Destination Expert
for Chiang Rai, Chiang Rai Province
posts: 3,260
reviews: 124
6. Re: Please help with itinerary

If you don't mind the travel from Chiang Rai to Mae Salong on the same day you fly into Chiang Rai, then it would be fine to book one night in CR and two in Mae Salong. I am always a little tired after the flight into Chiang Rai, and prefer to spend a night in CR at the night market and getting a massage, but that might depend on where you are coming from and for how long you have been flying.

Given that you are planning on spending time in Mae Salong and the area surrounding it, I think two full days in CR is good.

Have fun.

Safe Travels,

Broder

Doncaster, England
posts: 227
reviews: 11
7. Re: Please help with itinerary

Hello,

I'm after a bit more help please. we arrive from Bangkok and will stay in Chiang Rai first day and night and then second on to Mae Salong and maybe visit Thaton enroute. Next two days minimum at Mae Salong and then I get confused. we want to see Doi Tung and also Chiang Saen before returning to Chiang Rai for one night. I have 6 nights to play with and dont like keep changing hotels if it can be avoided but will if I need to. So First night is in Chiang Rai and that day we can see White Temple and Black House. Last night is Chiang Rai and we will have the following day. But I'm really unclear how to use up the 4. 2 for definite at Mae Salong but should we stay there for 3 and go on to Doi Tung and round to Chiang Saen and down to Chiang Rai and have last two in Chiang Rai. Is it possible even to get from Mae Salong to Doi Tung, Chiang Saen and back to Chiang Rai all in a day. I also wanted to visit Raumit for the rafting/elephant and can't work out where to fit it in.

Any suggestions would be really appreciated.

Jane

Vancouver
posts: 3,156
reviews: 21
8. Re: Please help with itinerary

Excellent information, Broder. I always appreciate your factual details.

Chiang Rai, Thailand
posts: 727
reviews: 21
9. Re: Please help with itinerary

Hi Jane

I would pack up at Mae Salong and head off to Doi Tung and Chiang Saen and then check into your hotel in Chiang Rai. Mae Salong. You could do more that day, Mae Salong is a good starting point for Doi Tung, but the drive back to Doi Tung might be a bit much and from Chiang Saen it's a nice drive to Chiang Rai, you might like to think about Chiang Khong after Chiang Saen and have lunch (and maybe a massage) overlooking the river on your way back.

Bruce

Colorado
Destination Expert
for Chiang Rai, Chiang Rai Province
posts: 3,260
reviews: 124
10. Re: Please help with itinerary

Hi Jane:

It is possible to leave Mae Salong about 9 a.m., go to Doi Tung to see the gardens and villa, then travel to Mae Sai along the Thailand/Burma border road, stop in Mae Sai for lunch, and go down to Chiang Saen in the early to mid afternoon, spend time in Chiang Saen and end up in Chiang Rai that early evening. Chiang Saen is about 45 minutes north of Chiang Rai.

You could also stay over night in Chiang Saen. There is a nice little place on the lake there with about 6 villas that several TA members have given good reviews. Let me know if you want the name.

If you wanted to fit in the raft trip and Raummit, I would either 1) do that on your first full day in Chiang Rai and thus stay the first two nights in Chiang Rai, then two nights in Mae Salong, then the last two nights in Chiang Rai or 2) do the rafting/Ruammit on your last full day, so you would spend night one in Chiang Rai, night 2 and 3 in Mae Salong, night 4, 5 and 6 in Chiang Rai. In either of these scenarios you could also opt to spend the night after you leave Mae Salong in Chiang Saen, rather than Chiang Rai. But if your goal is to not switch hotels as often, then I'd stay in Chiang Rai on the night after you leave Mae Salong.

Hope that helps

Safe Travels,

Broder