Jungle Trek, Chiang Mai
Highlight of ChiangMai for our family was the jungle trek. For anyone doing this as a family, I would recommend that you try to get onto a trek where there will be relatively compatible others. We were with a father and daughter (14) and a young Swiss couple - our kids 13, 17, 18 - and this was perfect for us. We would have been less exciting for one of the full groups of very young people, in a big hurry and probably much fitter than us. We had a ball, and everyone got on well. The trek itself was excellent - and the best way to actually see some of the country. We had a combination of driven transport, mostly walking, elephant riding and raft riding on the trip. There was beer and other drinks and every well prepared food at all locations - cooked by guides at night for stopover in villages for dinner, breakfast and lunch. Food was not overly plentiful if you have constantly hungry kids, so take extra "snacks". Even the opportunity to SHOP in the villages, to buy local craft! Scenery was beautiful, and seeing the hilltribe way of life - and the general privilege of invitation into their villages, was very enjoyable for all - NO computer, mobile phone SMS, game console etc.
We had 3 rafts each with a guide. The rafts were made of 14 bamboo poles lashed together with reeds and 3 cross bars. It was difficult to get used to standing on it as the poles move slightly individually with each weight shift. I was in front (behind the guide) with Simon behind me and John in the back poling to help steer the raft. We rafted downstream over small rapids and bumped, splashed, and passed the other rafts. One time we got too close to a tree and John tried to push the raft away from it. He succeeded but he ended up leaning too far and he fell into the water. He was the first of the group to fall in. Near the end of the trip, Bai got a little rowdy and knocked Cristobel off his raft and stole his shoes. It wasn?t long before the other two rafts capsized sending their passengers into the cold water. Bai tried to get our guide to flip us but he didn?t. We were the first to hit land and we watched the other come in. When they neared the drop-off point, they all started throwing each other in and jumping into the water. We got some of it on video.
We visited the Mae Sa waterfalls. Hike up the mountain and view the 10 sites in total. It took us about an hour to trek up the top of the mountain to see them all. Wear comfortable shoes that might get wet. Better have good knees.
Let's face it. Most people go to Chiang Mai to trek. Almost every guesthouse offers the activity. Some guesthouses double as tour and trekking companies, or at least claim to but might be acting as agents. In Chiang Mai numerous trekking companies have small offices in the tourist areas of the city. Book your tour in Chiang Mai and ask other travellers about their experiences and what they recommend.
Typically, a trek will last between three and five days. I found that three days is ideal. The price should be between 1300 - 1500 baht for a three day trek. Our trip began with a trip to a small waterfall and continued on to a Lisu Village. The Lisu women are distinguished by their brightly coloured tunics, worn over long pants. Unlike other hill tribes, they don't usually live in stilted houses.
The next day involved elephant riding. This elephant ride is worth it as you go through the jungle and see other elephants playing in the water. The second night was spent at a Karen village. This is the largest of the minority groups. The Karen wear woven v-neck tunics of various natural colours and turbans. Unmarried women wear distinctive long white v-neck tunics. After a long day of trekking we took a dip in the river.
The next day involved skiff rafting down rivers. On the way we stopped off at an Akha village. The women wear very plain indigo died shirts, which are in turn adorned with all kinds of eye-catching paraphernalia, such as coins, beads, shells, etc. The women are also very visible by their ornate headdress adorned with silver.
It was a really good time. If you want to see more of the pictures, check out my travelogue.
When you're in Chiang Mai you're so close to the jungle you'd have to be pretty darn stupid if you don't go on a trek. We had quite short time at our hands so we did a combined 1-day tour with trekking, an elephant ride, visits at two villages and a rafting in the end.
I was in Chiang Mai in april 2002, right in the midsth of the dry season, so the green was not so green and the whitewater rafting turned out quite calm, but it was all very nice.
There are loads of travel agencies in Chiang Mai. Look around for one that seems credible and book there.
Our organiser (whom I can't remember the name of) had its office maybe 20 meter down to the right on the street straight from Tha Phae gate.
We booked Our trecking tour by Unseen Travel in Bangkok, they took care of everything, trainticket (1:st class sleeping), hotel (The Park Hotel) and trecking (World Story). They asked if we wanted the opium-trek or the normal trek! - the ordinary trek please!
You have to be in very good condition for the trek, I wasn´t, my stomach run wild the night before our trek and we had to cancel the adventure.
A 3 day trek starts with an Elephant ride for about 1-2 hours with lunch, then You walk for 2-3 hours and taking a bath in a waterfall.Now it is time for the 1:st camp because the sun sets at 17:30. The next day starts with a 2-3 hour walk up and down the mountains with possibilities for taking a bath in another waterfall, then It´s time for lunch, another 2-3 hour walk before it´s time for 2:nd camp. the third day is like the others with possibilities for meeting locals from the hill tribes, the trek ends with a Bamboo rafting.
Things You need:
Mosquito repellants,long pants, a pair of trainers, extra socks, shorts, a jacket with long sleeves, t-shirts, jumper,flashlight, swim suit, towel, toilet paper, a hat, first aid kit, sun cream, tothbrush and toth paste, money for buying things from hill tribes.
Visiting the rain forest - visiting elephant farms - a tradition visiting Thailand.But i think Thailand has more to offer.
It became to touristic ! Islands like Pukhet are actually overcrowed and getting the face of European culture !! But there are still some islands worthwhile to visit - you will understand that i will keep this secret !
This part of Thailand is a must to visit !
Put on your safety belts when riding on an elephant ! But the excursions are worthwhile
to enjoy the pure nature of this country.
An umbrella is the best tip to be dressed - a good pair of shoes aswell because afterwards we did a trip on the river by floating pieces of wood !!
Washing myself in a waterfall was an incredible experince, it's incredible how that water could be so cool even if the outside temperature made us burn.
The first day, after a six hours treck, that shower was like a big breath!
When we were in Chiang Mai it was the dry season so the river was flowing gently but it can get quite hairy. It is nice to get off the beaten track and we even saw a huge snake wound around the branch of a tree overhanging the river.
Forested mountains, high valleys, meadows, and terraced rice fields to remote hilltribe settlements... wa wa .. I miss that.
There are many places to explore .i.e, Doi Inthanon National Park, Chiang Dao Cave, Doi Lanka Luang and many more.
After the elephant ride, we drove to a Hmong Village, to see their way of life, from which we started trekking up to the waterfall.
From Chiang Mai you can make a jungle trip. The three day trip gives the opportunity to make a hike through the jungle and the rice fields. The sunset down there is wicked!
It is not quiet comfortable to float down this river ! Weather conditions a rather bad - but the views are unique !
It's not expensive and nice if you haven't a lot of time like us!!
You'll do :
walk with elephants, bamboo rafting, visit 2 villages and a good lunch.