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Trekking - hard time to decide...

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Colorado
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Trekking - hard time to decide...

I keep tossing this question back and forth and can not decide on the outcome.

Would like to go trekking while in the North, my idea is (maybe naive) to trek somewhere to enjoy the nature, views, local life, do not care for rafting, elephant rides, other tourists.

Can you please help me with some direction, Your input is very appreciated.

Fort St. John...
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1. Re: Trekking - hard time to decide...

Such tours can be booked through many agencies. I booked a tour through Peak Aventure:

http://www.thepeakadventure.com/

The 2 guides we had were hill tribe born and still living there. They had a wide knowledge of the jungle, where to find things and what thing can be ate. We tried wild fruits, veggies, frogs and wild chicken! They let us try their rice moonshine, very hot btw. Let me also say, these are no sissy hikes to a hilltribe mock village that will make you buy cheap wares, lol. You get a real trek here.

They do offer rafting and elephant rides in some of the hikes, you can choose not to do these things when you book with the company. It even says on their site those activities are optional.

I also highly reccomend spending the extra 500-1300 baht (depending on how long you go) to get your tour private within your own group. We got stuck with a brother and sister from Dubai and the guy was absolutly full of himself, he never shut up long enough to enjoy nature and scared most of the animals off that we came across. The only thing he could talk about was himself! So if you want to be sure your trip is enjoyed to the fullest, book a private trek:)

Chiang Mai
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2. Re: Trekking - hard time to decide...

I checked with my "all things Thai information person" Paul Collins and he suggests you contact Eagle Nest. I understand they have some treks that are not your usual...same old..same old. You can also book either individual (private) with them or go with a group. Hope this helps some Marie (nannyre)

Colorado
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3. Re: Trekking - hard time to decide...

Thanks a lot for the replies, I know that my question is same old, same old.... For me it is a matter of doing the trek or not. Have to admit, that we would prefer to have a private tour, one does not want to have the serenity of the trek spoiled by someone else's different approach

Colorado
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4. Re: Trekking - hard time to decide...

One more question: Snow pirate, which trek option did you do with the Peak adventure:

Maewang Chiangmai 1 day, 2day, 3day or 5 day

or

Black Lahu hilltribe?

Fort St. John...
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5. Re: Trekking - hard time to decide...

I did the:

Location: Maewang Chiangmai

Duration: 3 Days

Price: 2,400 THB

I had 2 friends with me so I managed to get the price at 2,100, I didnt even ask for a discount.

However I would pay the private price now, lol.

I did not do the elephant ride. I know the bamboo ride was going to be a silly tourist thing as I had been to Thailand before, but I did the bamboo raft still as the days were so hot and it was a nice to cool off, since I went during Songkran, were got soaked! :D

Our 2 guides cooked us great food.

If you really love to hike you can get the guides to take you on side tour routes that will tack on 1-2 hours per day extra and can add in extra waterfalls and more interesting hiking routes.

You will have fun no matter what you choose. :)

Colorado
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6. Re: Trekking - hard time to decide...

thanks again for the recommendation

Znojmo, Czech...
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7. Re: Trekking - hard time to decide...

the australian owner of cavelodge speaks hilltribe dialect and am sure could arrange what you are looking for in a much less touristed area ,though snow pirates reccomendation sounds a good one..

Chiangmai
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8. Re: Trekking - hard time to decide...

Hi Charlotte,

Living in Chiang Mai for 20 years Ning and I do lots of trekking. We have observed many people asking about Trekking in northern Thailand and some responses given by those internet users who have first hand experience trekking here in Northern Thailand are not totally positive.

We took the initiative to inquire about the problems encountered, the answers varied widely. We have determined that lack of information before visitors selected a trekking agency was the main reason for dissatisfaction. With literally hundreds of options and trekking operators in the Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai area, choosing an operator is a problem for some visitors. For this reason, we are providing a basic checklist for our readers to use when considering a trek.

First and most important is to make sure that the trekking company or guest house you are considering is registered with the Tourism Authority of Thailand. The TAT has strict guidelines the agency must follow to insure the trekker receives the best service with good reliable guides.

Second, don't rush into a signing up for a trek, use your option to ask questions to become a well informed consumer.

Who will be your guide?

Meet and talk with him or her to find out how much they know about your special interests during the trek. A guide who knows nothing about the people or area you are visiting or who has nothing to say at all will not add to the learning experience.

How many people will be in your trekking party?

This an important question as going into a hill tribe village with 12 or 15 people will be overwhelming. Six persons at most is ideal and if it's possible to afford a private trek so much the better.

Who are the people in the trekking party?

Meet and talk with the other trekkers in the group. You don't want to be stuck with people for several days you can't get along with. The professional agencies will have an orientation meeting to discuss the dos and donts of various tribal customers, and the area to be visited, the evening before starting the trek.

Ning and I went on a organized trek last year when a guy brought along his guitar and played and sang in the villages. We had no culture experience with the hill tribe people because of him. The sounds and atmosphere in a village is unique and enjoyable without someone playing a guitar and singing. We told out guide about this but he said nothing and the other trekkers didn't mind. Ning and I found another family to stay with for the evening in the same village (paid extra) and had a great experience without western influences.

What will be the food on the menu during the trek?

A lot of energy will be burned up during the long hours of walking making food very important. It's a good idea to make sure they will bring enough food. The cheapest trek is not always the best as the first expense to

be cut back on is food.

# Will the hill tribe children beg for money or will the hill tribe people bother you to buy handicrafts during the trek?

This is one of the biggest problems we hear about. A good guide will teach the children not to beg or bother the trekkers to buy anything. There is nothing more annoying then being bugged constantly for money. It will ruin your whole trek.

# The next question is a trick question or the agency may just tell you what you want to hear. This is the best way to put it: Can I smoke opium or marijuana during the trek?

If they say yes avoid this agency. If you want to get stoned, do it on your own time, in your own country. Doing drugs in a hill tribe village has permanent untoward effects on the children of the village. The children look up to foreigners as wealthy and well educated persons. Some village children see hundreds of trekkers a year smoking opium. They will think that it is acceptable to do drugs and still be well educated and prosper which is false. They actually think that westerners smoke everyday so they can too. The effects are very damaging to a village and it's children. DON'T DO IT.

# How long is the ride in a vehicle until we start our trek?

Some trekking starting points are hours away. If your guide talks to you during your ride actively explaining the area you are traveling through and answering your questions, the ride will be more enjoyable. If you sit in the back of the pickup and your guide rides up front, this way the routine throughout the trek with no input from your guide. Ask your guide to ride with you in the back and tell you where you are and what's going on. He or she is getting paid to meet your needs. Keeping you well informed is one of them.

# Ask for recommendation letters from those who have been on their treks.

Some trekking operators and guides have hundreds of recommendation letters going back many years. Talk with people who have been on the trek and ask questions to satisfy yourself.

For the added plus of elephant riding during a trek expect to be on a route with more trekkers. There are many people who want elephant riding during their trek and only a few areas that offer such service. Do not expect to be the only group in a hill tribe village or area that offers elephant riding. The same goes for bamboo rafting. The treks are still fun and interesting but there will be others.

Many travelers are taking a bus from Khaosarn Road in Bangkok for a low fare. The additional cost is being paid by some guest houses here in Chiang Mai plus the guest houses offer one free night as an added bonus. If you can take advantage of this offer, go for it. Be aware they are more than eager to get you to join one of their treks. That's OK, this is how they pay for the cheap bus fare and the free night.

Have fun,

Randy and Ning

Thailand
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9. Re: Trekking - hard time to decide...

Excellent un-biased advice from Randy and Ning there and I cannot disagree with any of it.

I was going to also agree with another poster who mentioned Cave Lodge. The Owner ( John ) has lived around there for years and knows every cave for a hundred miles. When I get too stressed out in Chiangmai I head up there for some peace and quiet. They are quite close to the Burmese border and beside a national park. Although I have never been on a trek with them I have seen people returning from the treks and they had a great time.

Cavelodge.com is the website.

By the way, it is still the rainy season here and you should take that into account when you are packing if you are planning on coming soon. Next up is the cool season and you would be wise to bring a fleece, warm hat and pants if you will be heading up into the hills between October and February.

Colorado
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10. Re: Trekking - hard time to decide...

This is very useful information with the right pointers to ask, thanks a lot for taking the time and posting it!

I am considering the Cave lodge indeed, thanks again.