Day 2 – Explore Chang Rai
For my second day in Chang Mai, i booked a tour going to Chang Rai to visit the the Karen Long Neck Village and Golden Triangle. Chang Rai is a two hour drive from Chiang Mai.
Heading towards Chang Rai, we had a stop over in a public hot spring. It was a needed stop over after your 2 hour sitting in the van. The area is just a typical bus stop where you can find shops, restaurants and the hot spring where the local vendors boiled their eggs to be sold for the tourist.
White Buddhist Temple
Another 1hr drive and we arrived at Wat Rong Khun or commonly know as the White Buddhist Temple. The temple is now privately own by a local artist who funded its repair and renovation. The artist believed that his work is an offering to Lord Buddha that can give him an eternal life. The exterior of the temple is extravagant with intricate details and design, however, the interior lacks details and design or maybe I just felt weird on what was painted inside the temple. The temple is still under renovation when we visited. Nevertheless it is still worth a visit and know its history.
By the way, the golden structure behind me is just a public toilet in the White Temple. 🙂
Next stop will be the Golden Triangle, an hour away from the White Buddhist temple. This time we will revisit our history lesson in high school during Mekong River Cruise and learn the trading history in the Golden Triangle – opium and heroin black market. Boat ride is optional for 300baht (around 8USD)
While cruising the Mekong River, the tour guide explains the rich history of the river including its black market history. It was called Golden Triangle as it was surrounded by mountains of three countries – Myanmar, Thailand and Laos. You can read more information here about Golden Triangle and Golden Crescent (Afghanistan).
Boat Stop at Laos
A quick stop on the side of Laos is included in this tour – Don Sao island. Here you can heck out the exotic products of Laos. Free taste of their local gin or whiskey is being offered if you have the guts to try. Well, i just had a sip and i think it’s already a good try. Picture below is one of their cobra-ginseng flavored whiskey
We were suppose to have a quick stop in Mae Sai for some souvenir but our tour guide decided to bring us to a temple at the top of the mountain. Indeed it’s a better choice – the place is relaxing. Mae Sai is the northernmost part of Thailand and serve as Thailand-Myanmar border crossing.
Karen Long Neck Village
The last stop is the Karen Long Neck Village. This is the part of the tour that realizes my imaginations watching Nat Geo channels -to experience and see the tribes you just watched on tv before.
Karen Long Neck Hill tribe, known for spiral brass coils around their necks, are actually an ethic tribe from Myanmar and not from Thailand. There are several reasons why they put coils on their neck according to anthropologist – as protection form wild tigers, it protects them from being slave form other tribe as they look less attractive or to resembles a dragon with long neck as an important figure in the tribe folklore.
Tips and estimated expense report
If you have extra time, you may opt to use overnight buses to Chiang Mai from Bangkok that will give you more savings – cheaper bus fare and you save one night hotel accommodation.
For comparison purposes on Day 2 Tour- if you want to do a DIY to Chang Rai, 3-hour bus is available for around Php800.00 round-trip (20seater). You have to consider also the transfers from one place to another which is an hour away from each other (Php 200 may be enough for public transport). I had difficulty researching this info before my travel that is why I opted to join a group tour. If anyone has tried this DIY travel using public transport please feel free to leave a comment below as reference for future travelers.
Entrance fee for White Temple is 50baht (~Php70.00) and for the Karen Long Neck Village is 200Baht (~Php270). It may have cost you around Php1300.00 for DIY plus your lunch expense. So for me, Php300.00 difference for the comfort of traveling to a distant location is a reasonable choice.
If you are a single traveler, you can save on accommodation in a dorm style hostel – for 3nights will only cost you around Php600-Php800.00
Additional savings from your round-trip Bangkok – Chiang Mai transfer by bus, paying only P2000.000 for 1st class bus or Php1200.00 for 2nd class instead of Php3000.00 airfare
A total of Php2800.000 savings for you.
Php5800.00 for 4D/3N itinerary
Next… Enjoying Phuket, Thailand