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Published: January 22nd 2010
Monk had originally planned to stay a couple of nights in Chiang Rai before moving on to Chiang Mai. This would have broken up the bus journey into a 3-hour and and 5-hour stint. However, he decided that it might be better to get the journey done in one chunk and to leave Chiang Rai for a future, more leisurely stay.
The public bus from Chiang Khong to Chiang Mai takes 7-8 hours and costs 220 baht.The other option is to take a mini-bus for 250 baht (£5) which does the journey in around 5 hours. Monk likes public buses, they can be much more interesting. However, for a saving of 3 hours at an extra cost of less than £1, Monk felt there was no contest. The mini-buses seem to be local hotel buses run, presumably, with the aim of bringing more tourists into the town.
By the time mini-bus picked up Nellie and Monk at the hotel, it was all but full, leaving them with no choice but the back seat next to the precariously stacked cases of the other passengers. Aside from Monk's claustrophobia, the ride was none too comfortable whenever the bus hit bumps in the road. At least we had two seats between us so things could have been worse. As can be seen in the photo, Nellie sat next to the window with the map to check that the driver was on the right road. The bus stopped a couple of times en route and we finally reached Chiang Mai on time around 4pm.
A short tuk-tuk ride took Nellie and Monk to the Dusit D2 hotel which Monk had booked before leaving home. Lonely Planet recommends it as 'Our Pick' and describes it as 'the ultimate flashpacker digs attracting hip international and Thai visitors' - well Monk doesn't fit either of those categories but he's happy to stay in some comfort rather than roughing it. The hotel is in the middle of the 'night market' area and is about a ten minute walk from the walled city so it's probably the ideal location.
Monk has looked at Expedia in the past but has never found it particularly good value, however, he's used it for three of the hotels this trip and they've been amazingly good deals. The Dusit D2 is £65 per night.
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