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How to split time between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai

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Australia
posts: 131
reviews: 26
How to split time between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai

Hi everyone,

We are 2 adults and 2 children (11 and 9) and we have 10 nights to split between these two places. We have been to Chiang Mai before for 3 days and fell in love with it - which is why we're going back! We are flying into CR and out of CM. How would you recommend to spend the nights - 5 nights in each or 4 CR + 6 CM?

(I know posting on here you might be a bit CR biased!)

So far we have 2.5 - 3 days in CR booked up with Jermsak - I'm hoping this will not be too much with husband who doesn't like organised tours (am half wondering whether we could do some ourselves with a hire car).

Do you think we could spend a day walking around CR soaking it all in?

(Last time in CM we had a guide for a day and spent the other 2 days walking around the city, eating, shopping and generally soaking it all in.)

Hope that all makes sense (trying to give an indication of what we enjoy).

Thanks heaps!

16 replies to this topic
lewes uk
posts: 7,274
reviews: 121
1. Re: How to split time between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai

Hi,

I think that if you've already booked nearly three active tour days with Jermsak and they are out of the town then it's not a bad idea to add a day to wander the town and see some of the nice Wats and markets etc. That would give you nearly six days in Chiang Mai which are easy to fill.

Cheers

Australia
posts: 131
reviews: 26
2. Re: How to split time between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai

Thanks or the input. Do you think we could take ourselves to the white temple and Doi Tung project ourselves? (Is the Doi Tung project worth it for kids?) Then could spend the rest of the day wandering the town markets, hanging around the river/beach area etc.?

Australia
posts: 131
reviews: 26
3. Re: How to split time between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai

Just looked at photos of Doi Tung gardens and Royal Villa and it looks gorgeous. Would it be easy to drive to by ourselves from CR? (we already drive on the left)

lewes uk
posts: 7,274
reviews: 121
4. Re: How to split time between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai

Hi,

The drive to Doi Tung is pretty easy so you could do it yourself and do The Black House on the way back. Also the white temple isn't hard but easier and cheaper to get a tuk tuk.

Cheers

Colorado
Destination Expert
for Chiang Rai, Chiang Rai Province
posts: 3,277
reviews: 124
5. Re: How to split time between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai

I would spend 4 days in CR and 6 days in CM. If you already know you love CM you should probably spend more time in that destination.

I think your husband will find Jermsak to be very unlike any organized tour you have ever taken. I too do not like organized tours but I love seeing Thailand with Jermsak. I learn more about the people and culture on every trip and am able to experience things I could not on my own. Ask him lots of questions! He also has children the same age as your kids so he will likely relate well to them.

The drive to Doi Tung is about an hour and a half. I don't think kids would find it particularly interesting but maybe your kids love flowers? It might be nice to either drive on your own or have Jermsak take you on the border road (between Thailand and Burma) from Mae Sai to Doi Tung. The view is stunning and the kids would probably like the stop at the military camp at the border.

Have a great trip.

Safe Travels,

Broder

Australia
posts: 131
reviews: 26
6. Re: How to split time between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai

Thank you Broder. We might fall in love with CR too :)

Yes I have heard such good things about Jermsak. My husband just feels awkward having someone showing him around. He was the same when we had a wonderful guide in CM.

Our children do like exploring gardens which is why I thought it might be a good place for all of us. We might do the drive to Doi Tung (via Black house) if we feel like it - we do like doing things at our own pace like that.

I'm now thinking maybe we should take it a bit slower, have less organised before we get there and just organise beforehand to see the main things with Jermsak that aren't so easy by ourselves, particularly as we will have been busy before we arrive in CM.

If we fall in love with the place and want to do more we'll just have to go back!

Thanks again to everyone. I'm feeling more sorted in my head now!

Brisbane, Australia
Destination Expert
for Chiang Mai
posts: 9,022
reviews: 38
7. Re: How to split time between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai

Hi topendgirl,

I don't think you'll regret any of that time you have booked with jermsak. We don't like organized tours either, but it's not like that at all. I think it's a huge advantage in CR to have someone take you around and you'll be astounded at how much you'll learn. Jermsak isn't in your face. I agree with the other advice on splitting the time, but I'd say 3 nights CR and 7 CM, but of course you know I'm biased.

Have fun planning.

Caroline.

Australia
posts: 131
reviews: 26
8. Re: How to split time between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai

Thanks Caroline. I don't think so either, but it's the hubby! Trying to keep everyone happy!

Interesting that you say to split that way. Yes, I thought you'd be biased but not that biased!

colorado
posts: 66
reviews: 3
9. Re: How to split time between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai

We spent 3 days with Jermsak, and don't regret a minute of it! We aren't big on organized tours, but really, he becomes more like a friend showing you around the neighborhood. His information and insight are trip-making. We saw the white temple and the black house along with numerous other sights. We wouldn't have gotten near the same feeling, or knowledge without Jermsak visiting with us. We are planning our 3rd trip as I type, and only hope that Jermsak will still be available when we pin down our dates. Our family plans on planning around him :)

Chiang Mai, Thailand
posts: 16
10. Re: How to split time between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai

When I first visited CR my girlfriend arranged a tour with one of the trusted drivers used by her NGO. White temple, Doi Tung, Golden Triangle and Doi Mae Salong. I was very satisfied and would have recommended hiring a guide, and it may still be a good idea, depending on how much time you have to explore and your independence level. She also suggested I take the FREE Chiang Rai city trolley tour, which oddly, is hardly mentioned on this forum. It departs King Mengrai monument daily at 9am and 1:30pm, takes in several temples and historical sites, and is something I still recommend. Fast forward and I now find myself living here for the last 2 years. I would also like to add that my previous occupation is chef and hotelier with experience arranging tours in my native Canada, but am now enjoying spending time exploring northern Thailand by river , 4x4, mountain bike, and on foot (trekking). Looking back, at my first trip to CR; if I were to do it over again, I would not use a tour guide. I definitely would get out and explore the countryside and do it several different ways; mountain bike, motorbike or car and jungle mountain treks. I would also spend as little time as possible visiting the white temple and when I did drive out there I would first stop at Singha Park. Mountain bike in the adjacent mountains and eat lunch in their fantastic restaurant (Bhu Bhriom), while enjoying the view. Bruce, Broder and Hamzy give excellent advice on visiting some areas not on the standard tour guide list; like the Burma/Thailand border road for instance. They are also to be commended for the time and effort they put into answering questions and relaying advice. By all means pick one or two of the 'must see' tourist sites all the guide books recommend. (Black house, White temple, Doi Tung, Ruammit Elephant Camp(CRING!!), Doi Mae Salong, Kun Khon waterfall, Golden Triangle, Thaton - Chiang Rai boat trip etc). What is the best way to visit the countryside, you ask? I don't think there is a 'best' way, excluding avoiding the places all the other tourists are funneled to. All you really need to do is pick up a map at the TAT (Thailand Tourism Authority) office, located 2 blocks west of CR police compound intersection, or bring your own. Look at it, pick a direction (I prefer mountains and jungle trekking, but others may like lakes, rivers or rice fields as far as the eye can see) and drive or ride and explore. Within minutes you are in the countryside and don't be wary of taking a detour down a seemingly non frequented road that may land you in a very scenic place or in the company of very friendly locals. For longer trips, such as the mountains in eastern Chiang Rai (Laos border) or northern Chiang Rai (Burmese border) plan to spend 1 or maybe 2 nights on your journey or when you get there. Why not try to avoid using the main highways (1, 118, 1098, 1016, 1120) because, frankly they just aren't as interesting. There really is a lot to see in CR province and a different way to do it is to bring a healthy dose of adventure and get out and explore on your own.

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