Have just returned from a fantastic 3 week trip to Thailand and have to say that a lot of what was great was from the information I learnt from this website before leaving so thanks to everyone who inputs - so now it's my turn! After a wonderful 5 day stay in Chiang Mai we took the Green VIP bus to Chiang Rai (268 baht per person). This bus is very comfortable, with large reclining seats, air conditioning, free water and chips and a very smooth 3 hour drive. We stayed at The North Hotel which is centrally located and a great budget choice (see review for more detail). Our first afternoon was spent at the Chiang Rai beach which is definitely worth a visit. It's a row of huts where you can sit on mats at a low table looking out over the river as long tail boats speed by. You can order food and drink and sit alongside locals and enjoy the surrounds of mountains and beautiful flowering trees. Only tip is - be sure you can get back to your hotel again! That night we went to the Night Bazzar which is a fairly large market area with lots of crafty stuff to buy and a huge food court area with Thai singing and dancing as free entertainment. Day 2 was our Perfect Day Out with Jermsak (see separate posting for full details). Jermsak is as wonderful as all the previous posters have said and we were so sad that we could only spend one day with him but we were very grateful to see all the sights and learn all that we did on the one day including the White Temple which is amazing, visits to Akka, Lisu & Karen Tribes, Mae Salong and the tea plantation and cooking quail eggs in the hot springs with the most outstanding views everywhere we drove. Day 3 was with Tony Smile. A friend of Jermsaks and a good replacement if Jermsak is not available. His English is not as good as Jermsaks but is good enough for him to explain what we are seeing and doing and he tries very hard to make the experience a memorable one. His charge was 2500 baht including fuel. We started off by going to a monkey cave where we saw...... lots of monkeys and then climbed far too many stairs to enter a cave where monks often go to meditate. Next it was off to Mae Sai the border town to Burma. The market area there is amazing - very cheap and very, very huge. We went up to a look out and could see over into Burma which was exciting for an Aussie that dosen't get to see borders very often!! Another tip is that the charge to to go into Burma is USD$10 or 500 baht. The USD charge is cheaper. Tony took us to a gold jewellery store that is also a money changer so we could buy the USD. Another important tip is that the Burmese will only accept crisp clean notes and may turn you away if the bill is not acceptable. The money changer made sure he gave us a perfect note. Before entering Burma we had to hand in our passport and have our photo taken which was put into a temporary passport. The experience with the Burmese customs/immigration was rather interesting. I guess we were a little nervous as they were very straight faced, smoking and just pointed and grunted at us. However in the end, one of the men gave my husband this big smile so we felt better and moved on. Just over the border is another market which sells some very odd things - we were offered a pack of cards with Saddam Hussein's picture and some mystery pills!!! There are hundreds of stalls selling sunglasses, bags, dvds - all the usual things but the most memorable part was when Tony took us past this market into a local fresh food market. I really enjoy any chance I can to see the locals going about their business and hope to gain just a sliver of an idea of their life. We also went up to a temple that is quite different in design to the Thai temples. With the visa we had we could only go 5km from the border so after the temple visit we crossed back into Thailand. Next on the itinerary was to drive to Sop Ruak, otherwise known as the town at the Golden Triangle. We had a really nice lunch overlooking the Mekong and then we took a long tail boat on the Mekong River which was a real highlight (700 baht). The thought that if we just continued north we could end up in Tibet was a very exciting thought. We went over to a small island in Laos which to be honest seems to be purely there for tourists with just a small market. Entry fee 20 baht per person. We went over just to say that we were in 3 countries in one day but it really does not give you an insight to life in Laos. In fact I don't think I even met anyone from Laos. After returning to Thailand we visited the Opium Museum which was quite interesting (but we were getting very tired) and then finished off with a visit to a very old temple in Chiang Saen. Overall it was a fantastic day and Tony was a great guide (email@example.com - 081 9985769). Our time was over in Chiang Rai and the next day we flew to Bangkok and then went on to Hua Hin. We really hope that we will be back to experience more of Northern Thailand.