Itinerary for 5 days in Northern Thailand before crossing into Laos
Replies: 8 - Last Post: May 3, 2012 8:12 PM Last Post By: yogaretnam
Apr 29, 2012 7:07 PM
Have decided to break down the days as so. Any suggestions/input is greatly appreciated.
Chiang Mai - 3D/2N
- checking out the various wats on first day
- will be checking out the elephant reserve second day
- weekend end night market
- various food/drinks/bar places (any that I must not miss ?)
- leave for Chiang Rai by bus on 7th May
- white/black temple and various wats
- hill tribe museum
- leave for Chiang Khong 8th May
- really hoping I could squeeze the golden triangle visit
- take boat across border to Huay Xai 9th
- From Huay Xai slow boat to Luang Prabang
I've been reading the forums and have come across people who took packages from Chiang Mai that costs anywhere from 1500-2500 THB for a trip via slow boat to Luang Prabang with a short visit to the white temple in Chiang Rai (10-15mins) and a night stay in Chiang Khong and Pak Bang.
Would I be missing much in Chiang Rai/Chiang Khong by doing so ? Also read that these packages people mostly ended up being shoved around like herds without a clue about what's happening and get stuffed into an often overcrowded slow boat. Definitely something I'm not looking forward to.
Also read somewhere that there are other ways/places to catch a slow boat to Luang Prabang that's not too crowded.Forgot to bookmark the thread and I can't find it now.
Not planning to do any trekking hence why it isn't in the itinerary, feel free to suggest/change it especially if I missed out any places of interest that I missed out. thanks
Apr 29, 2012 7:18 PM
1You will need two days in Chiang Rai.
You should go to Kun Korn waterfall as well. You can hit that and the wat rong kun (white temple) on the same day as the temple is on the way. The waterfall is free as well and it's a beautiful hike. The water flow should be good in May as well.
DO NOT get a tourist package from Chiang Mai. Go straight to the boats and buy your ticket there when you cross into Laos. The rest are overpriced ripoffs.
Apr 29, 2012 9:28 PM
2I did almost exactly what you're planning to do a few months ago. I think its basically luck of the draw whether or not you're shoved into a slowboat with loads of other people- however, if enough people refuse to get into a slowboat because there are too many people, another boat will be commissioned. Chiang Mai is amazing!! don't miss the tigers. i had such a great time there, I didn't want to leave. there is a thing called flight of the gibbon which is an overnight zip lining activity that is supposed to be the most famous tourist attraction in thailand. I didn't do it though, i did a day one. additionally, cooking classes are very famous in chiang mai! i did one and it was great fun- though a half day one is probably enough, i did a full day one. there is also hiking- chiang mai is famous for it. I went on a hike as well and visited a few hill tribes..... but if you're not into hiking probably don't do it! :)
I went to the golden triangle, i was in chiang khong and rode a bike there. it's only about 15-20 km if memory serves me well. it wasn't very spectacular... i guess it was just the fact that it's the border of three countries!
also huay xin is pretty boring :P at least i thought so!
anyway hope that that helps,
Apr 30, 2012 1:30 AM
If you want to do a side trip to the golden triangle, consider getting to Chiang Khong a day early (there's a direct bus from the Chiang Mai Arcade bus station every morning at 8:30 - buy ticket at the "Green Bus" window) arriving about 3pm in CK. Get a room (plenty of cheap guesthouses) rent a small motorbike and drive to Chiang Saen along the Mekong. It's a really scenic ride and much better than rocking up in a tourist minivan with time restrictions. The GT is very touristy but the ride there and back makes it worthwhile. Tons of river views and authentic hilltribe villages.
If you can, cross over to Laos the day before the boat (border closes at 6pm) so you don't have to deal with the busy bottleneck of people entering in the morning. Feels less cattle-like that way.
Apr 30, 2012 9:18 AM
4This should be a lot of fun. My only comment is to be thoughtful when you purchase animal tourism packages. Not all facilities are honourable and decent to the creatures that bring in tourists. I would suggest The Elephant Nature Park which we visited and wrote about.
Have fun. It should be a great trip. Luang Prabang is incredible.
Apr 30, 2012 9:52 AM
5Also read somewhere that there are other ways/places to catch a slow boat to Luang Prabang that's not too crowded.Forgot to bookmark the thread and I can't find it now.
were you reading about the more expensive 'shompoo cruise' or Nagi options?
to date still no firsthand reports about the 'shompoo' option...
IMHO golden triangle is just a tourist trap, not worth the time.
if you like temples then visit the Wat Rong Khun (white temple), Wat Klang Wiang, Wat Phra Kaew & maybe Ban Dam (black temple but it's not an actual temple) in Chiangrai. the PDA hilltribe museum is really tiny but if you do go there, ask to view the videos. or you could just visit the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre museum in Luang Prabang (www.taeclaos.org) instead...unless you have an in depth interest in hilltribes, the differences in ethnic groups covered by these 2 museums won't matter to most tourists.
May 1, 2012 9:07 AM
May 2, 2012 9:48 AM
7Just wanted to say thanks everyone for the replies. Just got back from Khao Yai national park and am beat. Will go through each of the suggestions tomorrow especially on the places to go/not go.
May 3, 2012 8:12 PM
Kun Korn waterfall sounds great. I've been to Haew Narok Waterfall in Khao Yai National Park and was left a little disappointed because there wasn't really much water falling due to the dry season.
thanks for the great input. Yes it seems to be the common route for those who want to cross into Laos. Are you talking about Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai ? Heard the tigers are kept in cages ? Was tempted to visit the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi when I was there but many people said that the tigers were actually drugged so gave it a miss. Heard about Flight of the Gibbon as well but find it really pricey even for just a day trip but everyone says its worth it LOL
Thanks for the price check on the slow boat service. Will definitely want to do it on my own so I can spend some time in Chiang Khong before crossing the border. Your idea of crossing Laos later in the afternoon/evening to avoid the influx of people in the morning sounds really good. Will see how it works into my limited time schedule.
Elephant Nature Park is the same one I was thinking about and after reading about your experience I'm definitely going to spend a day there.
Yes, that's the exact one I read about. USD 142 for a boat trip excluding stay in Pak Beng seems rather steep. Actually interested in taking pictures at the golden triangle more than anything else.
what kind of treks do you recommend ?
From the sound of it, looks like 5 days is not really enough to cover some of the nice places in Chiang Mai/Chiang Rai
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