We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

last minute random questions for Chiang Rai!

Which Chiang Rai hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
San Francisco, CA
Level Contributor
163 posts
58 reviews
Save Topic
last minute random questions for Chiang Rai!

Hi all,

Just starting to really think about the nitty gritty, but getting excited! Have some random questions that hope folks can help me out with:

1. In Chiang Rai, is the level of spiciness the same as the rest of Thailand. E.g. I usually order food to be medium spicy everyone else in the world, but in Bangkok, have learned that I need to order "low" spice. Same in Chiang Rai?

2. I read how wonderful the bamboo raft from Jermsak is, but what do you do/where do you go? I was told it's an extra 2000 to take this, and it is more expensive than just going on a longtail boat as part of our regular tour package.

3. Any tips on getting money? Learned that I will have to exit airport in Bangkok to transfer baggage, so can find ATM in Bangkok to get money out. Better to get money out of ATM in Bangkok or Chiang Rai? Any local banks to use or to stay away from? Better to use a money changer? How much is maximum to withdraw from ATM at a time?

4. taxi from the airport - is it metered, or do I need to bargain? Do I need to be careful to look for only certain licensed cabs?

5. My DH loves coffee, is there a particular recommendation of a great thai brand? Supermarket coffee is ok too, if it it is good. He's found some really great local brands in supermarkets in Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam based on recommendations before, but also have found some big misses. Not sure if Thailand is known for coffee, and don't want the expensive tourist stuff, but just some different good flavor recommendations would be great.

Thanks again for everyone's help! Getting excited!!!

Chiang Rai, Thailand
Level Contributor
1,043 posts
33 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: last minute random questions for Chiang Rai!

Hi Sfgirl

Spicy food, yes more or less the same, ordering spicy usually means blow your head off spicy.

Bamboo Raft, I haven't done this yet but I do have it booked for my family and by all accounts is a great day out. I think you might find it a little bit more expensive than 2,000 baht though.

Money, ATM's are never the best option, changing notes here at a bank is about the best rate you will get (travellers cheques excepted), the limit on ATM's often depends on your bank, my Thai Bank's vary, usually the maximum per transaction is 20,000 baht, but I can take 50,000 baht by doing 3 back to back.

Taxi from the airport. You arrange this at the taxi desk in the airport. Around town, bargain or use metered cabs but be aware there is a scam, the metercab driver may say "fare on meter plus 70 baht" this is a scam.

Coffee Beans. Doi Chaang is tourist prices, but at the Golden Clock Tower is a Pangkorn Coffee Shop, they sell great Arabica Coffee Beans and are about the best value for really quality coffee.

Enjoy and look forward to hearing all about your trip.

Bruce

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
423 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: last minute random questions for Chiang Rai!

Hi sfgirl3

Spicey food, same same as BKK I reckon.

ATM's - if you have time before your trip, check out a Citibank ATM card/account. No conversion fee and minimal transaction fee. No minimum balance. I signed up with Citibank just for this trip and will keep the account open as a holiday travel account, loading it before I head away on hols. In Thailand, no fee if you use an AEON ATM. I had no issues with ATMs in Thailand or Laos and there were several ATM options in CR.

Cheers

Denver, Colorado
Level Contributor
206 posts
48 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: last minute random questions for Chiang Rai!

Hi sfgirl3,

I agree with Gale and Bruce about spicy. If you are not fond of spice get extra mild. You can always use the chili's and the chili fish sauce to spice it up. Chili fish sauce is one of my favorite things.

We have always had our guide take us to a money exchange in town. There are lots of them. Never used an ATM. We seem to get fairly good exchange rates at the money exchanges.

I have done both the bamboo raft and a long tail boat ride. Whether you do the raft is entirely up to you and what you are looking for in the day. We took the long tail boat from Chiang Rai beach to the village of Ruammit. It is faster, no doubt. You see things but they go by quickly.

On my last visit, we took the raft. We started above Ruammit on the river and floated down. During the float, Jermsak has fruit and snacks and then tells you the history of the area. It is easier to hear this information on the raft because there is no competition with the boat motor. We stopped at another village by the suspension bridge and walked around. I have heard varying reports of the villagers acceptance of the visitors but we were welcomed and one family even showed us her home. We walked across the bridge to the school and looked around while learning more about the village education system.

While we were at the village, Jermsak's wife made lunch. Right there, on the raft. We got back on, started on our way and were treated with delicious chicken with cashews, stir fry vegetables, rice, fruit, and drinks. There was so much food and it was very good. After a while we stopped at the hot springs, a local attraction. Just like any hot springs I suppose. Just wandered around, nothing more. You could take it or leave it. We ended the trip and our day in Ruammit.

So, if you are looking to pack lots of things into your day, the long tail boat ride is probably best. Gets you wherever you want to go quickly. The wind in your hair is exhilarating but hard to talk to someone other than the one right next to you because of the noise.

If you are looking for a leisurely day at a slower pace and some pampering, I highly recommend the raft. As we floated down the river we heard and saw different birds, saw much more of the beautiful countryside, learned more about the area because Jermsak could be heard, ate a marvelous lunch and simply relaxed. It was a wonderful day.

I am fairly certain the extra cost is for the boatsmen. There are two of them. One at the front and one at the rear of the raft. Jermsak doesn't guide the raft. He is there for his guests. Then there may be a little additional cost for the snacks and fruit along the way. Hope this helps.

I am with Bruce, Doi Chaang coffee. I found the prices similar to what we pay in the states. Brought several bags home. If you get to Mae Salong, there is Mae Salong coffee or there is a shop called Poosalong. They have great coffee, tea, jams, etc. it was brand new when we went in January of this year.

Sorry for such length but I hope this helps. Enjoy your trip and I look forward to your trip report.

Hamzy

Colorado
Destination Expert
for Chiang Rai, Chiang Rai Province
Level Contributor
3,350 posts
161 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: last minute random questions for Chiang Rai!

Hi sfgirl:

1. As for spiciness level, compared to San Francisco, the mild in Chiang Rai would be close to a medium to hot in San Francisco or other parts of the U.S. I find the medium in C.R. to be spicier than if I were in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos etc I'd start with the mild and add chili sauce to it if it isn't hot enough for you. Recently at a local favorite restaurant of mine we had Jermsak order for us and he ordered a curry with no extra spice. When it came, it was really hot and we were drinking lots of water. Jermsak commented that "he thought they could see we were Westerners and had expected they would have toned it down." We all got a good laugh out of that.

1. The bamboo raft trip is generally 2500 baht per person for 2 people; 1800 baht per person for 3 people; 1400 baht for 4 people etc. This generally includes the entire day of activity, as Hamzy had outlined above. If you are being quoted an additional 2000 baht for the raft trip, it is probably because you already have a day of activity booked and the raft trip is just part of your day.

I have done the raft trip and the long tail boat ride numerous times. I prefer the raft trip but that is because I am usually looking for a relaxing day on the water after riding elephants. The long tail boat ride is one hour. The time on the raft is closer to 3 to 4 hours with the stops. The raft is much more leisurely. Hamzy did a great job of describing it above, so I won't repeat that. Do keep in mind that if you do the raft trip and you stop at the hot springs (which I can take or leave also) that this is the time when the boatmen are able to have lunch, so that is the reason I get out for 15 minutes at the hot springs.

3. I don't use ATMs, but my husband and others with whom I have traveled often use them. You can get money out at the airport or at ATMs around Chiang Rai. I always use the money changers in Chiang Rai and have historically obtained better rates at money changers in Chiang Rai than I have at the airport in BKK or at the ATMs. I prefer the one across from the entrance to the CR night market on the corner.

4. I always agree on a price with the taxi driver or a tuk tuk prior to getting into the taxi. If it is metered I insist on there being no additional charges to the meter amount. Sometimes the taxis that are not metered are a better deal if it is a slow time and I can bargain with the drivers for a set amount. I prefer no surprises.

5. I love the Arabica coffee and usually bring quite a bit home with me. I also bring Mae Salong coffee home with me and I have also recently tried the coffee at Poosalong in Mae Salong, which is a locally grown brand. If you get up near Mae Salong it is definitely worth buying the coffee grown in that area.

Let us know if we can offer further help.

Have a great trip.

Safe Travels,

Broder

San Francisco, CA
Level Contributor
163 posts
58 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: last minute random questions for Chiang Rai!

These are great tips, thanks all!! Are money changers in cr open on Saturday and Sunday?

Chiang Rai, Thailand
Level Contributor
1,043 posts
33 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: last minute random questions for Chiang Rai!

I have bought two bags of coffee from Doi Chaang, but once bitten twice shy as they say. It's about double the price of elsewhere for same same but definitely no different.

One of the bags I bought was incredibly expensive, the beans were eaten and excreted by Civits. The 100g bag was double the cost of the 250g Arabica bag, and being a thrill seeker I had to try it, sad to say, I couldn't tell the difference. They will do you a cup if you want to try it.

The Doi Chaang Coffee Shop at the next intersection East of the Golden Clock Tower is a nice place to sit and relax, they have homemade ice creams in lots of weird and wonderful flavours, I particular like the Rose flavour. They also have a great selection of cakes and make a delicious Panini, but it definitely isn't Thai prices and I think the sign on the electric sockets saying "Charging mobile phones and lapttop computers 20 baht per hour" is way out of order. But I do take my girls there 2nd and 4th Thursday in the month when I go to the film club there and they like to have a few cakes and glasses of fluorescent colored Soda's. If it's raining and you want somewhere soft to sit and read a book, it's lovely. Mind you so is Chivvit Thamma Da, but that's a whole other story.

Edited: 11:23 am, July 04, 2013
Chiang Rai, Thailand
Level Contributor
1,043 posts
33 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: last minute random questions for Chiang Rai!

I don't know about the ones near the bus station/night market, but the banks in Central (every Thai Bank is represented with exchange rates posted) are all open on Saturdays and Sundays.

Colorado
Destination Expert
for Chiang Rai, Chiang Rai Province
Level Contributor
3,350 posts
161 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: last minute random questions for Chiang Rai!

Yes, the money exchanges are open on Saturday and Sunday. They are often closed though on national holidays. Most of the close at 9 or 9:30 p.m.

Safe Travels,

Broder

San Francisco, CA
Level Contributor
163 posts
58 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: last minute random questions for Chiang Rai!

One more question for Broder and others who bring coffee home, if you don't mind. I'm not a coffee drinker, and DH will not be coming with me. In terms of value and quality factored together, what ratio would you recommend buying the Arabica, Mae Salong, and Poosalong coffee home? I know everyone's tastes vary greatly, but I also find that the "good" coffees are usally pretty popular. Would you say 1/3 1/3 1/3 as a good guide for gift giving?

Colorado
Destination Expert
for Chiang Rai, Chiang Rai Province
Level Contributor
3,350 posts
161 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: last minute random questions for Chiang Rai!

You can't go wrong with the 1/3 Arabica, 1/3 Mae Salong and 1/3 Poosalong, but I prefer the Arabica and Mae Salong over the Poosalong. Don't get me wrong, all three are good and for gift giving it is nice to have a variety. If I were buying 10 bags, I'd buy 4 Arabica, 4 Mae Salong and 2 Poosalong.

I think Hamzy is a big coffee drinker too so she may want to chime in here.

Have fun figuring this out. Should be an enjoyable task.

SafeTravels,

Broder