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Advice on Chiang Mai itinerary - Doi Inthanon?

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Amsterdam, The...
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Advice on Chiang Mai itinerary - Doi Inthanon?

We wil be in Chiang Mai for two days/two nights in December, arriving in the morning of the first day on a sleeper train. Figuring out the itinerary for the first day was easy - just walk around the old city/moat area, see the main temples, visit the night market in the evening (we will be there over the weekend). The second day is proving a challenge. We would like to explore out of town, but we don't want elephant camps, tiger shows or village tours, and after Chiang Mai we will be going on a two-day trek up the Chiang Dao mountain, so a trekking tour on the second day is also out. Doi Inthanon looks interesting (if a bit touristy), but we also want to go to Doi Suthep in the late afternoon.

Is it doable to go to Doi Inthanon, visit the chedis, walk the Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail and be back in Chiang Mai in time to go to Doi Suthep, without rushing too much? And do we need to have a guide to go to Doi Inthanon, or is it enough to have a driver to take us there? I read somewhere that it is possible to get a guide for the Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail right there by the entrance, and that it is a lot cheaper than bringing one from CM. Has anyone on this forum done it this way?

Oregon
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1. Re: Advice on Chiang Mai itinerary - Doi Inthanon?

I believe you could do both and don't really need a tour. I would see Doi Ithanon if I were you, but Doi Suthep is more touristy in my opinion. You can probably do both more easily by hiring a driver as you mentioned; that way you can start early on your schedule. Cheers.

Edited: 11 September 2013, 19:20
Vancouver
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2. Re: Advice on Chiang Mai itinerary - Doi Inthanon?

If you are going to be in Chiang Mai on a Sunday, a must-see is the Sunday Walking Street Market that starts around 5 pm - it is the best market in Thailand, IMO. Wonderful handicrafts and hilltribe products. Best prices of any other markets and very good quality. All kinds of things and great street food, musicians sitting in the middle of the street playing unique instruments, some Wats where you can find great food. It has the atmosphere of a festival, and gets VERY crowded by about 7 pm, so best to get there early. When I was in Chiang Mai in February, I started at one end of the street at 4:30 pm and they were still setting up some stalls but there were many open and lots of food. It would be a shame if you missed it, so hopefully you can factor that in for your second day - I'm assuming that's a Sunday.

Brisbane, Australia
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3. Re: Advice on Chiang Mai itinerary - Doi Inthanon?

Since you only have two days in Chiang Mai itself I would be tempted to stay in Chiang Mai and not do an out of town trip on your second day. You are heading straight off on a two day trek after that - so will get time to see and explore the countryside.

I think it would be difficult to do both Doi Suthep and Doi Inthanon in one day. Doi Inthanon is a full day trip - to see Doi Suthep (get up back and have some time there) takes about two hours from town. Doi Inthanon is to the South of Chiang Mai city - Doi Suthep is slightly to the Nth (West?) - so not exactly in the same direction. The king and queens pogodas at Doi Inthanon are stunning - however I would not miss seeing Doi Suthep over that.

We had a guide take us to Doi Inthanon and we went directly there and back and it took the entire day. You wouldn't necessarily need a guide - you could negotiate with a driver. Just make sure the car they use is safe and capable of getting up the steep mountain road. I think it would be risky to count on there being a guide standing there waiting - we didn't see anyone standing around like that - in fact we saw few other people all day apart from at the King and Queens pogoda.

As mentioned - Chiang Mai is a great city for exploring - it has over 300 temples in the city - the old city walls - lots of wonderful local markets, places to eat and drink - you can very easily spend two days there and build in a trip to Doi Suthep on the second day. If you want to cut costs you can get a shared public songthaew up and back.

Caroline.

Edited: 11 September 2013, 22:44
4. Re: Advice on Chiang Mai itinerary - Doi Inthanon?

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Removed on: 15 September 2013, 11:35
Chiang Mai, Thailand
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5. Re: Advice on Chiang Mai itinerary - Doi Inthanon?

If you want to trek at Kew Mae Pan, you need the whole day. You have to hire local guide at Kew Mae Pan. I'm not sure about 200-300 baht.

You can't do both Doi Inthanon and Doi Suthep.

During December especially holidays , there are many Thai tourists. It's busy and crowded. Sometimes traffic jamed. Recommend to go up early you can avoid traffic and crowd.

Thai tourists go up like 5 o'clock in the morning to see sun rise. Prepare winter stuff, temperture will be one digit number.

Enjoy it !

Amsterdam, The...
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6. Re: Advice on Chiang Mai itinerary - Doi Inthanon?

Thanks a lot everyone for your advice and suggestions! I think we'll try to incorporate a visit to Doi Suthep on the first day, rather than tacking it on the end of the trip to Doi Inthanon. The Sunday walking street market is now also on our list.

lannafocus, could you please expand a bit on hiring a local guide for the Kew Mae Pan trail? Where exactly do we do that, is there some sort of an official entrance to this trail, or do we have to go the park headquarters? We will be going there on Sunday (Dec 22) - will it be possible to get a guide on the spot, or do we need to mail/call in advance and reserve a guide for this date?

7. Re: Advice on Chiang Mai itinerary - Doi Inthanon?

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Removed on: 01 October 2013, 16:16
Brisbane, Australia
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8. Re: Advice on Chiang Mai itinerary - Doi Inthanon?

Jurapi, for your information the latest news re trains Bangkok-Chiang Mai is that the service will hopefully resume on 1st November, If you have not already booked your train tickets I suggest you look at flying into Chiang Mai.

It is dearer but is only a short flight and you will arrive fresh and ready to explore lovely Chiang Mai, there is no guarantee that all the train problems (derailments) will be rectified by November.

Also we used Ben from Benstaxiandtours for our trip to chiang mai, ben is not a tour guide but is a local with a lovely vehicle, you tell him what you want to do and where you want to go, he will arrange an itinerary to suit you , he is not intrusive and leaves you to do what you want to do.Ben is listed on the right hand side under tour guides.

His fee was Baht 2000 plus fuel (approx.baht 450 per day) I gladly gave him Baht 3000 each day ,such was his service, also this only equated to $100aus for a vehicle and driver for a whole day(cant do that here in Australia).

Enjoy Chiang Mai

Amsterdam, The...
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9. Re: Advice on Chiang Mai itinerary - Doi Inthanon?

Thanks very much for your advice, aussie010! I have contacted Ben and he is available to drive us to Doi Inthanon, so that is one item off my list! And we might yet end up flying to CM instead of taking a sleeper train, as it does seem a more reliable option at this moment.

I assume no-one here knows about hiring a local guide for the Kew Mae Pan trek?

Amsterdam, The...
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10. Re: Advice on Chiang Mai itinerary - Doi Inthanon?

We are back from out trip to Thailand (and two other SEA countries) and I just wanted to thank aussie010 again for recommending Ben from Benstaxiandtours. We used him for a day trip from Chiang Mai to Doi Inthanon National Park and were very happy with the service he provided. Ben is also a very gentle and kind person, and he took a very good care of us through the day.

Doi Inthanon was also a very good choice for us for the second day in Chiang Mai area (as we are more nature than city people). The 3 km long Kew Mae Pan trek which starts not far from the summit, was a real highlight of this day trip, as part of the trail winds along the open ridge with spectacular views.

You must be accompanied by a local guide for this trek, but that is arranged on the spot - there is a control post just above the parking and the guides are waiting there. On busy days you might have to wait a bit until a larger group forms, as there are not enough guides. We had to wait for about half an hour (Ben talked to the guides for us) and were even told at one point that in the worst case we might be allowed to go without a guide (they insist on guides to protect the jungle, not because the trek is dangerous or complicated). In the end we could join a group of 6 Thai tourists and paid 100 baht for the two of us. The trekking took a bit more than two hours (mostly because the Thai in our group were taking a lot of photos - and that's quite a statement, coming from a shutterbug like me!) and was nothing short of spectacular. Highly recommended for those who like hiking!