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we're traveling from Bankok up to Chang Rai and doing a loop through Pye with a 2 and 5 year old. we need help with some basic logistics.

best places up north to do activities like elephant rides, river boat trip (rafting), trek with kids and other kid friendly activities.

also need to know best way to get from place to place (bus, train, rental car) we were thinking overnight train to Chang Mai - rent a car to do loop.

thanks in advance.
Cary and Jana:)
 

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we're traveling from Bankok up to Chang Rai and doing a loop through Pye with a 2 and 5 year old. we need help with some basic logistics.

best places up north to do activities like elephant rides, river boat trip (rafting), trek with kids and other kid friendly activities.

also need to know best way to get from place to place (bus, train, rental car) we were thinking overnight train to Chang Mai - rent a car to do loop.

thanks in advance.
Cary and Jana:)

Hi Cary & Jana,

It might be easier to fly to either Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai. Bus to Chiang Mai is usually an overnight trip [same with the train] but you can also do both during the day. Buses are cheapest but some aren't that safe [in my humble opinion] due to maintenance and the other lemming on the road. The bus is 10 hours and the train is 12 hours - a long day's journey into night or a long night's journey into day.

Check out Nok Air. About the same cost [getting discount tickets] and only one hour. Also Air Asia. Both are inexpensive - a bit more than either bus or train but quicker and safer.

The activities you're interested in participating in are easily available in Chiang Mai which caters to tourists. I don't think you'll find all that many from Chaing Rai but I may be wrong. I've done trekking into the jungle, rafting and walked through an opium field after riding an elephant. There are over a dozen hill tribes you can visit - probably one of the better, given the age of your children, are up on Doi Suthep. I forget which hill tribe but they are worth a visit. You can even see a photo of Sylvester Stallone in one of the huts - he made one of his Rambo movies in that area! Chiang Mai has much more to offer a visitor that Chiang Rai but you can take a side trip there - and even to the NE corner of Thailand where it joins Myanmar and Laos. In fact you can go into Myanmar [Burma] it's just a short walk across the "Friendship Bridge". There is a fee but can't remember how much.

Serendipity2
 

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Take a plane to Chaing Mai.The bus is uncomfortble, the train is a nice ride but takes some time.If you do take the train take the night train with a sleeper,it is worth it.I really do like to take trains if we have the time.The wife and I flew Thai Airways the first time from BKK,great flight.By the time we got to crusing altatuide we started our decent short flight,one hour.Do not wast your time going to Chaing Rai or to cross the border into Burma.Unless you live in Thailand or travel here regularly and havr much time.There is really nothing in Chaing Rai to see that is different then the rest of northern Thailand,except the golden triangle,and that is nothing.Unless you just want to say "hey I have been to......."You can see just about the same things as a tourist in Chaing Mai.Going into the boarder of Burma is not much to see or do.You will have a bunch of beggers and border gaurds that are very rude and only look at you like you are made of money.Worst then the rest of Thailand.You would really have to spend a week or more in Burma traveling to get the feel of Burma,and only a feel.That is something that I would not advice with young kids.You will find many things to do in the Chaing Mai area with kids.Once in Chaing Mai you can get a "baht bus" for your self for the day.They are the red looking "pick up trucks with the cover on the back.He will take you just about anywere you would like to go all day,and wait for you.It should not cost you more then 500thb on the outside.And that is the tourist price,expensive.He will offer to buy your tickets for you at any of the places that you go,DO'nt do that.Tell him you will buy your own tickets at where ever you are going.You could go to the monkey show,snake show elaphant show Doi Suteap umbrella factory furniture factory.Just so many different areas to see,all with the same driver.Just keep your wits about you with him.He will for sure try to take you to the places that he will get a comission for taking you and more if you buy.There is much to see in and around Chaing Mai,enjoy your time.
 

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Take a plane to Chaing Mai.The bus is uncomfortble, the train is a nice ride but takes some time.If you do take the train take the night train with a sleeper,it is worth it.I really do like to take trains if we have the time.The wife and I flew Thai Airways the first time from BKK,great flight.By the time we got to crusing altatuide we started our decent short flight,one hour.Do not wast your time going to Chaing Rai or to cross the border into Burma.Unless you live in Thailand or travel here regularly and havr much time.There is really nothing in Chaing Rai to see that is different then the rest of northern Thailand,except the golden triangle,and that is nothing.Unless you just want to say "hey I have been to......."You can see just about the same things as a tourist in Chaing Mai.Going into the boarder of Burma is not much to see or do.You will have a bunch of beggers and border gaurds that are very rude and only look at you like you are made of money.Worst then the rest of Thailand.You would really have to spend a week or more in Burma traveling to get the feel of Burma,and only a feel.That is something that I would not advice with young kids.You will find many things to do in the Chaing Mai area with kids.Once in Chaing Mai you can get a "baht bus" for your self for the day.They are the red looking "pick up trucks with the cover on the back.He will take you just about anywere you would like to go all day,and wait for you.It should not cost you more then 500thb on the outside.And that is the tourist price,expensive.He will offer to buy your tickets for you at any of the places that you go,DO'nt do that.Tell him you will buy your own tickets at where ever you are going.You could go to the monkey show,snake show elaphant show Doi Suteap umbrella factory furniture factory.Just so many different areas to see,all with the same driver.Just keep your wits about you with him.He will for sure try to take you to the places that he will get a comission for taking you and more if you buy.There is much to see in and around Chaing Mai,enjoy your time.
blue eyes,

I would agree that the best choice of destinations to partake of the activities that they are interested in is Chiang Mai - no question. Chiang Mai is tourist central where one can do about everything from rafting to trekking to riding the elephant, Doi Suthep and well over a dozen hill tribes plus the Night Bazaar, a host of restaurants serving every possible cuisine. Chiang Rai is, by comparison, much smaller and does not have the selection of tourist activities nor is it all that interesting a place to visit.

I would disagree, however, on visiting the Myanmar border as there is a fair bit to see in Tachileick including a pretty large open air market/bazaar but probably a bit too much with a 2 year old and a 5 year old in tow. I saw some fabulous buys there including a pair of solid jade vases standing about 3' tall for about $1500. I didn't buy them but they were gorgeous! [I wonder, had I bought them, if I would have actually received them] I've made the trip a couple of times and enjoyed it - even a visit into a small village in Laos lying along the Mekong River which was interesting. Many make the 'run' to renew their visa with a quick trip across the border but there are easier and cheaper ways to renew the visa.

Serendipity2
 
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You don't mention how long you have to do this trip?

Some slightly different views to the above......

Chiang Rai is well worth a day or two. Hire a boat and head upriver, where you can visit the elephant camp, and twenty minutes further upstream, the hot springs. The Night Bazaar is a little classier than the Chiang Mai version. And there's the White Temple nearby, very impressive. On one occasion I hired a guide for the day for 50USD, just the guide, the two of us, and a minibus. A great trip into the hills visiting various hill tribes, including a couple of hours at the elephant camp.

Tachilek (Burmese border) is little more than the market, as suggested above. However I hired a tuk-tuk for the day on one of quite a few trips there. Fascinating to visit temples that are really impoverished in comparison to many of its Thai equivalents. Travelled around the local countryside, ate in a restaurant on the main road some way out of town. Great fun, a really 'different' experience. The general poverty is stunning.

Otherwise there is loads to do in Chiang Mai, where I live, some mentioned above. The kids might like a trip to the zoo - nothing special, but the panda cubs are 'cute'.

I'm not so sure how young-children-friendly all this travelling around in a country of temples and tourist attractions of a mostly cultural bent is, but you know your children best!
 
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