The Ping Nakara Hotel directed us to Noom and Lanna when we booked our rooms a few months ahead of our visit. Email exchange with Mr. Noom, the manager, were easy, and we ended up booking two tours with them: the full day Chiang Rai tour and the one day Elephant Park, Bamboo River and Tiger Kingdom tour. We wanted to do some special things with our kids, one of whom spent a week in Chiang Rai last year. She had such a great time we thought it would be fun to take the other two there, and while we enjoyed it, I would not do it again nor would I recommend it if you have children under the age of seven. We spent six hours in the van, a long day. The highlight was seeing the Longneck Hill Tribe, but unfortunately even that has become very touristic. If you opt to do this trip, and like us, you're not into running into busloads of tourists, ask Noom to forego the buffet lunch spot in favor of something smaller along the river near the Golden Triangle.
We really enjoyed the second tour, despite the fact that our children have done the elephant thing in Phuket and Sri Lanka. This elephant ride was quite long and in a great setting. The 4 km. bamboo river raft ride was refreshing and scenic. The highlight for the children was Tiger Kingdom, a separate expense, but they loved the opportunity to snuggle with the baby tigers. Nes, our tour guide, somehow managed to get us in before actual number was called which was great as the queue was 40 groups long. We still waited an hour, but in the meantime, we had lunch and a look around at the tigers.
We're giving Lanna five stars for their willingness to accommodate, their easy-going manner, and their flexibility over the two days. I like the idea of going with a reputable tour operator than leaving trips with the kids up to the taxi and tuk-tuk drivers. We've been down that long, boring road in Bangkok and will never do it again.
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