CulNatrual Traveling to North-West Thailand

Our trip to the "Lanna Kingdom" will of course start in Bangkok. Before heading really north we first head west in direction of Kanchanaburi. To do this we will travel by train from "Bangkok Noi" to Kanchanaburi city to visit the "Bride over the river Kwai" and the war cemetery. The next day we continue our train trip to the end-station "Nam Tok", crossing the famous "Bridge of the river Kwai" and passing the beautiful railroad-track  along the river. From "Nam Tok" we take a bus from to the "Hell Fire Pass" where Prisoners Of War had to cut the railroad-track trough a mountain. There is a very good museum here (setup and taken care of by the Australian tax-payers).

After the "Hell Fire Pass" we continue our trip to Sangkhlaburi that is located along one of Thailand's biggest water-reservoirs. Once there was a village where is now a lake and you can still see a temple that is emerging above the water-level. You can make a very nice boat-trip on the lake and go with the small boat trough the temple. On one side is the village Sangkhlaburi and on the other side is the Mon-village (hill-tribes from Burma) and between there is crossing the lake Thailands longest wooden Mon-bridge of 400m long. At the other side is also a very beautiful temple the "Wat WiweKaram" with a golden chedi modeled after the Buddhagave of India. Sangkhlaburi is one of my most favorite places I have been in Thailand. In the weekend it can be a bit busy with people from Bangkok.

The next day we drive a little bit back to visit "Three Pagodas Pass" what is the border crossing with Burma. You can even make a side-trip into Burma (no visa-runs just a 24h-pass). Then finally our real journey up-north begins, but to do that we have to travel back to Kanchanaburi to travel from there via Suphanburi and Nakhon Sawan to Sukhothai, the first capital city of Siam (as Thailand was called before 1932). I always like Sukhothai, a small provincial city where Thai life just goes on. I always stay in a guesthouse somewhere in the new city near the river. It is nice to sit in the evening in the park near the bridge and watch life. From the new city of Sukhothai you can take a 10km bus-ride to the old city of Sukhothai. At the entrance of the park you can rent bicycles to explorer the huge park with many beautiful temples and statues.

After Sukhothai we travel via Tak to Lampang, the horse carriage city where time seems to stop. I always stay there in a guesthouse along the Wang river. From Lampang you can visit one of Thailand most beautiful Lanna style temples the "Wat Phra That Lampang Lunag" with its beautiful paintings on wooden panels. And of course you should not be missing a visit to the Elephant training camp and Elephant hospital that is about 15km outside of Lampang city. From Lampang we travel straight up north via Phrayo to Chiang Rai. At Phrayo we stop for a lunch along the beautiful lake. Chiang Rai is a small provincial city with a colorful night-market behind the bus-station.

From Chiang Rai we continue our trip to Mae Sai, the top north border-crossing to Burma. Here you can cross the border and visit Tachlitek in Burma with a huge market of all things you never wanted to buy, most of it cheap copies from China. Before heading back we first make a small side-trip along the Thai-Burmese border to the "Golden Triangle" (Thailand, Burma and Laos) so called after the "golden" business of the opium trade. Here it is also where the Mekong rivers starts as border between Laos and Thailand. From here you can make a scenery boat-trip over the Mekong river and visit a Lao island in the Mekong river. From the "Golden Triangle" we travel back to Chiang Rai and from there we travel to Chiang Mai (the rose of the north). You can take the bus or rent a car and take the scenic route via route 118, 109 and 107. I always stay at a hotel or guesthouse within in the old city (within the old moat). On Sunday there is a evening/night market in the old city. Visit the "Wat Doi Suthep" (take the stairs).

From Chiang Mai we make a side trip to Pai through a beautiful mountains area with stunning view points. Pai has became popular but it is still a nice little village between the mountains on your way to Mae Hong Son. Most people go here to visit the "Karen Long Neck" tribe that live along the river just outside the city of Mae Hong Son. I always stay in one of the hotels or guesthouses near the small lake in the city. Along the lake is a beautiful Lanna style temple and at the other side of the lake are some good restaurants. From here we return the same way back to Chiang Mai. And finally from Chiang Mai we make our way back to Bangkok and we travel by train (second class sleeper). In the afternoon the train leaves from Chiang Mai and arrives the next morning early in Bangkok. And in the evening the chairs where you have been sitting are changed into nice and cosy beds to sleep. I love traveling by train! You can walk around and have a chat with people. Although there is a restaurant in the train I would take my own food with me.

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