A great many of the tourists visiting Chiang Mai make enquiries on hill-tribe trekking. Of particular interest to most are the six major hill-tribes which inhabit the Northern highlands. The largest group is Karen, followed by the Meo, Lahu, Yao, Akha and Lisu. They share animism beliefs and honor numerous forest and guardian spirits. Each tribe has distinctive ceremonial attire, courtship rituals, games, dances, agricultural customs, languages or dialects, aesthetic values and hygienic habits. Popular 'Jangle Treks', lasting from 2-7 days, take visitors through forested mountains and high valleys and include visits to remote hill-tribe settlements for overnight stays. The best guides are hill-tribe youths who customarily speak English, Thai and at least three tribal dialects.
Treks commonly feature travel by foot, sometimes by boat, elephant-back, horse-back or jeep, frequently a combination of two or three modes of transportation. Three main trekking areas, in which there are many different routes, are as follows:
Chiang Mai-Mae Taeng Route usually includes a raft trip down the Mae Taeng River.
Chiang Mai-Mae Hong Son Route take adventures through spectacular mountain scenery where some road are in good condition only during dry season.
Chiang Mai-Chiang Rai Route offers an extremely pleasant but potentially with exciting long-tail boat ride on the Mae Kok River, all the way from Tha Ton to Chiang Rai.
The other major trekking areas in the North are Chiang Dao, Pai, Mae Chaem, Mae Chan, Ngao, Phrao, Wiang Pa Pao and Lampang.
Prospective trekkers are advised to shop around companies offering such tours for the best conditions. All treks must be registered with the Tourist Police. This is done for trekkers' protection. Avoid companies that do not abide by this law. Visitors are welcome to enquire from the Tourist Police to confirm which tour companies have negative or bad reputations or visit the TAT Chiang Mai office to obtain a list of registered travel agents. Tourist Police is located at km.75, Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road, Tel: 1155, 053-248130.
Also, avoid narcotics, essentially everything from 'soft drugs' such as marijuana to 'hard drugs' such as opium and heroin both during travel and at hill-tribe villages. There are severe penalties for such usage. Valuables should be deposited in the safe box of your hotel or bank while you are trekking upcountry. Wear sensible clothing to protect your limbs and sleep under a mosquito net at night. Malaria is a real threat, and sensible precautions should be taken to avoid it.
Visitors should remember to:
- Respect hill-tribe beliefs and religious symbols and structures.
Dress modestly. Hill-tribe people are generally modest. Inappropriate attire may offend them.
Ask permission before photographing someone. Some villages do not permit photography.
Avoid trading western medicines and articles of clothing. Contributions to their welfare, items such as pens, paper, needles, thread, cloth and material used for embroidery are perfectly acceptable.
Trek prices are determined by the duration modes, meals available and the size of the trekking party. Check directly with the TAT Chiang Mai office for current information.
An elephant show is performed in the morning from 09.40 am-10.30 am. The show begins with elephants bathing to cool themselves then mahouts would place a log harness on their backs. Finally, elephants will demonstrate their formidable forestry skills. Elephant riding and rafting are the most enjoyable activities. Elephant shows are performed at the following places:
Tha Phae Ban Mae Taman is along Highway No. 107 (Chiang Mai-Fang) for 43 kilometers, turn left for 7 kilometers. Contact Tel: 053-297060 for more information.
Mae Taeng Elephant Camp is on the same route to Tha Phae Ban Mae Taman. It is 9 kilometers fron the entrance and opposite to Mae Taman temple. For more information, Tel: 053-844818, 053-271680.
Chiang Dao Elephant Training Centre is around Km. 56. from Chiang Mai, it is on the right. The centre trains young elephants on forestry skills and is open to the public daily at 9.00 am-10.00 am. For more information, Tel: 053-298553, 053-862037.
Mae Sa Elephant Camp is at Km. 10 of the Mae Rim-Samoeng route. Tel: 053-206247-8, www.elephantcamps.com
Pong Yaeng Elephant Camp is located at Km. 18.5 of the Mae Rim-Samoeng route. Tel: 053-215943, take the same route that leads to Kangsadan Farm.
This is a fun activity that provides both good health and a relaxed feeling. Mountain biking can be done on several routes in Chiang Mai including around the old city moats, Doi Suthep-Khun Chang Khian-Huai Tung Thao, Huai Nam Dang, Huai Nam Ru and Mae Taeng. Contact Chiang Mai Green Tour, Tel: 053-247374.
Homestay at Ban Mae Kampong
Bang Mae Kampong is some 50 kilometers east of Chiang Mai in Mae On district. The village is situated in the mountainous area with lush jungle surroundings. Visitors can experience real Thai village culture as well as enjoy several activities. Nearby attractions include beautiful waterfalls, a cotton weaving village and the Huai Hong Khrai Royal Agricultural Station. Reservation should be made through Mae Kampong Electricity Cooperative Royal Initiated Project Ltd., Tel: 053-229526.
Bamboo Rafting-Whitewater Rafting
Bamboo Rafting along the Mae Taeng River is very popular because the river zigzags along the valleys. The river tide is not too rough and the surroundings on both sides are very admirable. The journey starts from Pong Dueat by trekking and spending a night at Ban Pa Khaolam, a Karen village. Then, rafting along the Mae Taeng River to Ban Sop Kai for approximately 3-4 hours. The most suitable period for rafting along the river from the end of the rainy season to winter. There are many travel agents in Chiang Mai provide this service.
Whitewater Rafting along the Mae Taeng River can be divided into 3 parts. The first is from Ban Mueang Khong to Ban Pa Khaolam. This part is quiet calm. The second is from Ban Pa Khaolam to Ban Sop Kai where there are a lot of rapids fun for whitewater rafting. The last part is from Ban Sop Kai to Mae Taeng Elephant Camp where kayaking can be done. For more information on shooting by kayak, contact Chiang Mai Adventure Co.,Ltd., Tel. 053-418534, 053-418197-8.
Cursing along the Ping River
Maenam Ping is the main river in Chiang Mai. Tourist can witness the atmosphere of Chiang Mai, as well as the local lifestyle on both sides of the Ping River which take approximately 2 hours. Contact the Mae Ping River Cruise, Tel: 053-274822 or www.scorpiontailed.com
Artificial Rock Climbling
Artificial Rock Climbling can be practiced at the Peak Rock Climbing Plaza, situated on Chang Klan Road, next to the Siam Commercial Bank, Tha Pae Branch. It's an artificial rock wall with a height of 15 meters and 8 meters wide. It is imported from France and meets world standards. A part of the plaza is also set as a department store and handicraft shops. For more information, please contact Tel: 053-800567 or www.thepeakadventure.com
Sightseeing from the air
Sightseeing from the air an alternative way to get a bird's eye view of Chiang Mai is too board a Microlight aircraft or take a balloon flight to see the city and the surrounding countryside. For further information, please contact Chiang Mai Sky Adventure, Tel: 053-868460 or www.skyadventures.info
If you are looking for quality golf with a cultural experience for your next holiday in Thailand, then Chiang Mai are the perfect destinations. By nature Thai people are gentle and friendly, but the Northern Folk are less hurried and flow steadily with the slower pace of life in Thailand's North. Originally Thailand's Capital during the Lanna Dynasty, Chiang Mai was built within a walled 'Moat' to keep out the then invading Burmese and protect its people. Chiang Mai is now an international holiday resort, and business centre offering investment opportunities to entrepreneurs worldwide. Here is my Top 5 of golf club in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Green valley Country Club, 183/2 Chotana (Chiang Mai-Mae Rim) Road, Maesa, Chiang Mai, Tel: 053-298249-51, 053-298220-3 or www.chiangmaigreenvalleygolf.com
Chiang Mai Highlands Golf & Spa Resort, 167 Mu 2, On-Nue, Mae-On Sub District, Chiang Mai, Tel: 081-9610028-9 or www.chiangmaihighlands.com
Mae Jo Golf Club, 112 Mu 7, Ban Sriboonruang, Pahpai, San Sai District, Chiang Mai, Tel: 053-354431-2 or www.maejogolfclub.com
Lanna Sports Center, Chotana Road, Chang Puek, Amphoe Muang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, Tel: 053-211556 or www.golflanna.com
The Royal Chiang Mai Golf Resort, 169 Mu 5, Chiang Mai-Phrao road Km. 26, Mae Faek, Amphoe San Sai, Chiang Mai, Tel: 053-849301-6 or www.royalchiangmai.com
There are many options for day spas in Chiang Mai, ranging from the full pamper luxury treatment, to more down to earth treatment with matching prices. In fact, Chiang Mai is an ideal place to indulge yourself, it's laid back and cheap and you'll certainly want to stay longer. The growth in spas in Thailand in recent years reflects the Thais expertise in creating a relaxing environment and offering a pampering experience and a treatment should certainly be on your itinerary. Here are some recommended spas in Chiang Mai.
Over the past few years this award winning spa has become one of the leading spa groups in Thailand and now has two well-appointed branches with one conveniently located in the old town beside Wat Phra Singh, another in the Nimmenhemin area. Open from 10am to 10pm. Facilities include a jacuzzi and steam bath and they offer a range of packages to suit all budgets and time scales, in beautiful surroundings.- 2 Branches: Chiangmai Oasis Spa - 102 Sirimuangkarajan Road, Lanna Oasis Spa - 4 Samlan T.Prasing (053) 920 111.
Rarinjinda Wellness Spa and Resort
This relatively new facility has set a new standard in independent spas with its fancy building opposite the Riverside restaurant. Unlike the lovely landscaped atmosphere of others, this is an actual live-in centre with a luxurious resort/hotel and fully equipped spa all in one modern building. These professionals offer a complete wellness experience. Riverfront near Nawarot Bridge. 1, 14 Chareonraj Rd., Watkate, (053) 247 000, 033 030.
Rawee-Waree Resort & Spa
Ping Nakara Boutique Hotel & Spa
The Dheva Spa