Chiang Mai

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Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand but is considerably smaller than Bangkok. It is in the north of the country up towards the Chinese and Burmese borders, and is a very popular destination for backpackers looking to do some jungle trekking, which is exactly the reason we went there!

We spent two nights in Chiang Mai, one at either end of the 2 night jungle trek which we booked through our hostel on arrival. The trek was so cheap, we would have been as well to have three weeks of jungle trekking to cover our bed and board, the catering was excellent. In Chiang Mai itself we went to one of the big hotels to use their swimming pool and sauna, then we visited the night market to buy some fake Rolexes. Grand.

Dusty road

We drove in a pick-up truck for a couple of hours out of town, with the rest of our merry gang (three Italian lads and a German couple) up to the starting point for the trek, whereupon we had lunch.

The first part of the hike took us from 400 metre altitude up to 1200 metres for the first night's accommodation with the Lahu hill tribe, it was really hard going in the heat and we had to be careful not to run out of water.

Jungle trekkin'

Funnel web

On the way up the path was lined with thousands of funnel web spider webs, you could see them darting back inside out of the corner of your eye as you walked past.

Although we weren't always doing so well for water, there were plenty of bananas on offer in the jungle.


Lahu village

Our first night was spent in a bamboo hut in a Lahu tribal village at altitude.

We slept under mosquito nets on foam mattresses, which were actually very comfortable. Up here it got quite cold at night though, and I was glad I had a jersey with me.


More villages

A view across the valley to another tribal village, probably also Lahu.

A Lahu woman with child, I think they were looking at the little leaves which curl up when you touch them, like a venus fly trap (although that's not what they are, we were reliably informed).



After a nice dinner cooked by our guide, some of the village kids came by to sing, the poor kid on the left was so tired he could barely stay awake, but his cruel mother made him sing, so we gave him a tip for his efforts.

There were plenty of pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and the occasionaly cow wandering about the village quite freely.

Piggy porkers

Rumble in the jungle

Here I just felt like putting up a general picture of the lush greenery of the Thai jungle.

On the second day we stopped for lunch by a waterfall, which was already invaded by another group of tourists. We'd been told we wouldn't meet any other groups for the whole 3 days, but it was clear there were others staying in the same village as us, which was perhaps partly why we were told not to wander around the place at night.



Crossing a dodgy jungle bridge, oh yes we were intrepid.

We found ourselves in a forest of giant bamboo at one stage...

Forests of giant bamboo


There were vines hanging down from the canopy over the streams, just like cartoons had led me to believe about jungles.

The guides were very helpful when we didn't want to get our feet wet...

Don't fall in!

The taste of paradise

Check us out in the next advert for Herbal Essences...

The path here had been washed away by a mud slide.

Log bridge


Elephant trekking time, with Nellie, Jumbo, Dumbo and Stampy (could we think of any more elephant names...?)

The last part of the trek was spent on bamboo rafts floating serenely downstream, avoiding the water borne creatures that would crawl up your shorts, and the occasional elephant having a bath.


Street scene

Chiang Mai itself, the Hash House Harriers were in town, this is one of the market streets within the walled city (not the night market, which is in a different part of town).

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2006