Getting Away – Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai, Thailand
There are great day trips from Chiang Mai that will allow you to get away from the bustle of the big city and wander the countryside.
Stairs inside the Muang On caves near San Kamphaeng
The mouth of the Tham Lot caves near Soppong (Photo by Justin Holt)
When you’re ready to sightsee, you can get a motorcycle taxi (100 baht round-trip) to Tham Lot. Make sure to go early – we were the only ones at the cave when we arrived at 10 a.m., but when we returned to the park entrance an hour later, three tour groups were lined up at the ticket booth. It’s 100 baht to rent a guide to take you into the caves, and there’s also a 20 baht surcharge for the boatman who paddles you across the waist-deep waters to the first cavern (they might not mention the cost until the end of the trip, so keep that in mind). If you’re scared of the dark, this tour might not be for you – once inside Tham Lot, it’s so black and quiet that all you’ll hear is your own breathing and the hiss of your guide’s gas lantern.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Weather can affect the outcome of your cave exploration. Tham Lot is made up of three huge caverns. When the water level of the Nam Lan River gets too high, only the first cavern is accessible.
Trekking: The jungles in the Chiang Mai province beg to be explored, and package trekking deals will help you see every sight. You can book these in Bangkok or in Chiang Mai through numerous travel agencies and guesthouses. A friend who stayed at the Richly Guest House said the staff there arranged a three-day trek in Doi Inthanon Park that provided an excellent package. For 2000 baht, she got an elephant trek, two nights accommodation at huts in the jungle and freshly cooked Thai food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. “I would definitely recommend this trek; everybody had a great time,” she said. Guidebooks and BnA are great resources for other trekking ideas. Do remember that trekking is Chiang Mai’s specialty; I advise that you don’t miss out like I did!