After our guide M and driver Sayan picked up my companion and I, we were told it would only be the two of us. This was fortuitous. A private tour is always the best because the pace is realized, never dependent on others. Our first stop was a local market where we witnessed vendors displaying their wares, especially the prepared foods. It was a early in the morning so the place was abuzz. We then drove up to Doi Suthep and spent leisurely time at the temple and surrounding grounds. Our guide M was informative with his presentation and responsive and knowledgeable with answers to our questions. We were not rushed and thoroughly enjoyed the temple and its rich history.
The trekking portion of the tour began innocently enough as we were led from the temple up a marked trail that landed us among some cabins in an area designated for camping and lodging. From there we met with a park ranger. We were already prepped with small trekking backpacks and sprayed with insect repellent. Into the forest we descend for the next 2 hours covering about 3.5 KM. Because this was the rainy season, the footing was often slippery, but our excellent guide and the superb Park Ranger was always close to lend a helping hand. The pace moved as quickly as the terrain would allow, with stopping for respite and general explanation about the surrounding flora and fauna. It is strenuous at times but well worth the experience. It is not an easy trek, but on a scale from 1-10, I would say this was a 6 because of the wetness encountered. So if you are going on this adventure, inquire about the local or current condition of the trail. The numerous waterfalls encountered along the way added to the picturesque and wonderful nature of the trek.
When we were done sweating (I carried an extra shirt and towel to leave in the touring van) and drove down to the flats, we were treated to an incredible lunch of the famous Chiang Mai noodle soup called Koi Soi (kow soy). All together, this was a wonderful experience made more so by our unplanned private tour with M. I highly recommend Touring Center for your tour needs while in Chiang Mai.