If I head up to Chiang mai for 2 weeks is it possible to do some trekking in that time into the jungle? How do I go about doing it? Do I book in advance?
Hi Stephanie, yes it is more than possible.
Basically you can get treks that last one, two or a few nights. It is up to you and how long you want to trek for. Most follow the same rough routes into the jungles, hills and tribal areas of Northern Thailand, visiting different ‘villages’ (where you will also eat and sleep if you are on an overnight trek) such as the Karen village which are often quite tourist orientated. These treks sometimes include short legs of being driven from one point to another, depending who you go with. Many also include different activities such as elephant trekking or river rafting from one point to the next, as well as various educational slants. It all depends on the specifics of the tour group and tour you choose. Some are better than others in terms of funding projects/infrastructure in the communities/villages you visit too, so shop around.
When you get to Chiang Mai, there will be a whole host of companies to choose from. My advice is don’t be hasty, spend some time shopping around, ask other backpackers of their experiences with different companies. Get a feel for the tour operator and their prices, ask about the guide too as a good guide can make or break a trek and you need to ensure that the proper guides are in place and that the trek is registered with the tourist police etc. When you decide on a tour operator it is very easy to simply book it there and then, and they will put you on the next trek that is leaving a day (sometimes two) after that.
You will certainly not need 2 weeks up in Chiang Mai just for the trek, (as I said they usually last a few days and a couple of nights on average) but that will leave you ample time either side to rest, relax and explore Chiang Mai which is a great, relaxed place. You may want a day of rest/massages after your trek anyway! Have a great time!
Two weeks is plenty to go trekking into the jungle around Chiang Mai. Agencies don’t normally offer long trek options – the average is 2 nights/3 days, usually going up to max 5 days – but there are several different adventure tours available to choose from too, so you could do a mixture. You can book in advance with some agencies using the contact details on their websites, but if you haven’t booked anything by the time you arrive, you will find little difficulty in arranging a trip with one of the many agencies dotted about all over town – there are hundreds of trekking agencies in Chiang Mai covering nearly all trekkable areas of the north. Make sure the trek you book has at least two guides – a leader and a back-marker, and check make sure the agency is clear about when the trek starts and ends, and how to get to and from the base (though most will pick you up from your guesthouse). If you can, try to meet the other trekkers in your group and the guides, who should know reasonable English and be knowledgeable about hill tribe culture and etiquette. You should also check what meals are included, how much walking is involved and be shown a map of where you are going. All agencies should have licenses and certificates from the Tourist Authority of Thailand and each trek should be registered with the tourist police.
Most treks include a ride on an elephant and a bamboo-raft excursion, though the amount of actual walking included can vary greatly. A few operators offer something a little different. Eagle House (www.eaglehouse.com/) runs the standard type of trek, between two and four days long, with elephants and rafting, but to carefully chosen quiet areas and with an educational bent, and passes on a proportion of costs towards funding projects in hill-tribe villages. Moving upmarket, the Trekking Collective (www.trekkingcollective.com/) can arrange pricey but high-quality customized treks from one to five days and can cater for specific interests such as bird-watching; it too is involved in community programmes to help tribal people.
Chiangmai Green Alternative Tours ([email protected]
You’re in for a fab time – the trekking in northern Thailand is great fun!
I can recommend Pooh’s eco treks which we found in the rough guide actually. We spent New Year 2012 with them on the ‘survival trek’ which was fantastic.
If you don’t mind roughing it, this option takes you deep into the jungle where you set up your own camp, forage for food, set traps for wild animals (small ones!) and hunt frogs. It was a wonderful experience and we learned a lot. The treks are led by guides from the local community who have lived there for generations. The proceeds are put back into the villages there and developing sustainable tourism. We were led by an English speaking guide and his companion who didn’t speak English but knew everything about the jungle and was able to make everything we needed from bamboo, from plates to cups and even cocktail mixers (well it was NYE!!).
They offer many types of trek including homestays if you are not up for a night under banana leaves!
The Doi Inthanon NP is about a 2 hour drive from Chang Mai and the transportation was a bit bumpy but safe.
Thank you all for the great advice! You have really put my mind at rest. Those tour groups sound great! I think I’ll wait till I get there to find one and look around since it sounds like that is easy to do? But I’ll definitely check those you mentioned out too. Thanks again XXX
You don’t need to book ahead. The longest treks in Thailand are only 3 days. There are some hiking places and you can always go up to Pai for more trekking. But unfortunately Thailand isn’t an amazing Trekking destination, more of just something to do when you are here.
I’m currently reading a book called 12 Weeks in Thailand: The Good Life on the Cheap (www.12WeeksinThailand.com) and there is an entire chapter about trekking in Thailand, particularly Chiang Mai and Koh Tao, plus the lack of trekking in Phuket. But the author also goes to Borneo to climb Mount Kinabalu which sounds AMAZING.
Michael Huxley I completely disagree. As someone who has trekked in Thailand, climbed mount Kinabalu (as well as jungle trekked in Borneo, Malaysia and a dozen other places, mountain or volcano trekked in dozens of places too), Thailand is still a good place to do a trek. It is a completely different experience from the one you mention.
The prices of trekking vary a lot for a three day trek. The cheapest is maybe 1,200 baht and it goes up to 3,000 baht depending on the guide and where they take you.
I’ve done the 3 day 1,400 baht trek before and it’s fun. But it’s not the best in the world. The trek in Borneo at Mt. Kinabalu the other guy mentioned is supposed to be the highest in SE Asia but that you would have to book 2-3 months ahead for.