A few key questions we would probably ask before we signed up…..
BOOKINGS AND LOGISTICS
How do I book the trip?
You can reserve your space on any of our tour dates by paying a deposit of GBP 299. You can do this either via PayPal or a bank transfer to our company bank account. Your final balance is due 59 days prior to your tour start date. If you have any questions or queries please contact us on [email protected]
How do I meet up with you at the beginning of the trip?
We will pick you up at 10:00am at the CHIANG MAI GATE HOTEL in Chiang Mai City. If you’re not staying there the night before your tour starts please make your own way to the hotel which is just outside the South side of the old city walls. The address is: Chiang Mai Gate Hotel, 10/11 Suriyawong Road, Haiya, Chiang Mai, 50100. Telephone number: +66(0) 53 203 895 9
It’s easy to find and very well known so any hotel you are staying at will be able to help you get a taxi there.
What happens at the end of the trip?
We will transfer you back to the Chiang Mai Gate Hotel on the final day of your tour, arriving around 12:30pm. If you are flying out of Chiang Mai on the same day, please don’t book flights leaving earlier than around 3-4pm. NOTE: If you require any special transfers (i.e. the day before, early morning) please do contact us as we may be able to arrange a separate transfer to Chiang Mai for a small additional cost.
What happens if I want to change my dates or cancel my trip?
You can change the date of your tour at no cost at all as long as you let us know at least 30 days before your start date. Unfortunately if it’s less than 60 days before your start date we need to make a small admin charge of £50 to cover our preparation costs. Once you’re closer than 30 days, we’re sorry, but you can’t change your dates.
Surely you aren’t going to cancel and miss the trip of a lifetime? However, we know that sometimes things change and life gets in the way of the best laid plans. If you need to cancel your trip our terms are as below:
- 30 days or more prior to the start date of your trip – loss of deposit
- 29 days or less prior to the start date of your trip – full cost of the tour
How do I get to Chiang Mai?
Getting to Chiang Mai is very easy these days. If you’re travelling from overseas to join the tour then you can get connecting flights from Bangkok up to Chiang Mai – although do check which airport your flight is from. Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways use Suvannabhumi (BKK) which is the main international airport hub, most of the ‘low cost’ airlines such as Air Asia, Thai Lion air etc, use Don Muang airport (DMK) and you should always allow at least 2 hours to get between the two.
Chiang Mai airport is located very centrally and it’s easy to get a taxi to anywhere in the city from there.
If you’re already in Thailand you can head to Chiang Mai by plane – low cost airlines fly the route many times a day and prices start at around 1,100THB one way – which takes around an hour.
Alternatively the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is a ‘classic’ journey and a very pleasant way to get up to the North. Overnight sleepers (2nd Class, air-conditioning) are less than 1,000THB and a fun way to feel part of the country!
Where should I stay in Chiang Mai?
Chiang Mai city, and nearby, has a huge range of hotels ranging from slightly grotty hostels all the way up to some of the best hotels in South East Asia. Where to stay depends on how much time you’re planning on spending in the city / area before we pick you up on your start date. The meeting point for the trip is the Chiang Mai Gate Hotel so it’s very easy to stay there the night prior to the trip. Prices start at around 1,000THB for a double room. If you’re looking to treat yourself then 137 Pillars is a superb boutique hotel in the city. It’s not cheap but for a treat is well worth it.
We’d recommend that you do stay in the city the night before the tour starts – it makes it much easier for you to get to the meeting point on the start date.
Do you offer other trips / beach weeks?
Unfortunately we don’t offer other trips / beach weeks at the moment but get in touch and we’re more than happy to help you with ideas and plans for a longer trip, and if ask nicely we might even share some of our favourite hideaways that are well and truly off the beaten track! During your tour our team of course are more than happy to help you make reservations and plan more adventures in Thailand.
What sort of travel insurance do I need?
It’s a condition of travelling with us that you have bought travel insurance before your trip. Please make sure that it covers you to drive whilst overseas. There are so many different policies on offer it’s impossible to recommend one, the best thing to do is always do your homework and make sure you’re covered for what you want to do!
What about visa’s?
Most nationalities are able to get a 30 day tourist visa on arrival in Thailand. Immigration simply stamp your passport when you arrive and you can stay for 30 days. If you’re planning on staying longer then you can also apply for a 60 day tourist visa – but you have to do this before you arrive in the country. Check with the local Thai Embassy where you’re based if you have any questions / concerns – regulations do change from time to time.
DRIVING A TUK TUK
Can I really drive a Tuk Tuk?
The simple answer is yes! If you can drive a manual (stickshift) car then you won’t have any problems driving a Tuk Tuk. It takes a little bit of practice to get used to things – that’s what our training sessions are for – but they’re pretty simple beasts and a lot of fun. Just don’t think you’re Lewis Hamilton and try to take corners too fast……
What happens if I don’t want to drive the Tuk Tuk?
Why wouldn’t you want to? But seriously, this is no problem at all. If you’re travelling with friends you can sit back and let them be your chauffer or if you’re travelling solo, the others in your Tuk Tuk are going to love you as they’ll get more driving time. Of course you can also take a seat with our lead Tuk Tuk which is driven by one of The Tuk Tuk Club team.
What happens if I don’t pass the Tuk Tuk driving training course?
If you drive at home we honestly don’t think you’ll have a problem with the training course BUT, if you do, don’t worry. Our team will work with you throughout the trip until you feel confident and pass any elements of the training course you struggled with (they’ll give you extra training when we arrive in new locations and keep working with you as long as you want). Once you’ve passed the course then you’re up and away and will be able to drive on the tour.
What sort of license do I need?
We ask that you make sure you have a driving license from your home country that allows you to drive a manual (stickshift) car. Even better would be for you to get an International Driving Permit before you travel. If you have any problems / questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
THE TRIP ITSELF
What about the weather?
One of the few things we can’t control! Weather patterns in Thailand seem to be changing quite a lot at the moment but as a rule of thumb, November through to February is lovely and cool with blue skies and very little rain. Expect day time temperatures of mid to high 20’s (sometimes a touch warmer) and evening temperatures of teen’s or, when we’re in the mountains, around 8-10C. March through to June / July gets quite hot and day time highs can be in the mid to high 30C’s (but don’t forget you’ve got the natural air-conditioning of the Tuk Tuk!) and evening temperatures of low to mid 20’s C. Don’t forget though that up in the mountains it always feels a bit cooler and there’s a lot less humidity up here than in Bangkok. From around July through to October it’s the rainy season – it’s still nice and warm (even hot!) – and you can expect some heavy rain from time to time. It’s rare that it rains all day however, far more common are very heavy downpours which then dry up incredibly quickly. All seasons are fun to travel in and offer different experiences – the weather is the weather so don’t let it put you off!
Do I need cash? What about credit cards
Cash is still the most common way to make payments in Thailand and particularly in rural areas. Whilst quite a few meals are included in the tour, most lunches aren’t, several dinners aren’t and of course drinks etc aren’t included. Whilst most of the hotels we use can take card payments we recommend that you bring at least 10,000THB with you in cash to cover lunches, dinners and the ‘odd’ drink – much easier than using plastic. ATM’s are all over the country – even in relatively rural areas – and most accept bank cards from overseas so if you run out of cash it’s not hard to get more.
How ‘adventurous’ is it?
Good question although one that’s almost impossible to ask. One person’s adventure can sometimes be another person’s stroll in the park so in many ways it depends on how you think of an adventure. All the accommodation (other than that for the trekking in Doi Inthanon) is of a very high standard and booked in advance – so it’s not ‘that’ sort of adventure – and the route has been extensively researched and planned. But, driving in a fleet of Tuk Tuk’s by its very nature will throw up some unexpected ‘happenings’ all of which will add to the experience. Compared to two weeks sunning yourself on an island, it’s a huge adventure. However, compared to climbing Mt Everest, perhaps not so much. We believe this trip can be done by anyone and everyone – as long as you have a sense of humour and want to see the ‘real’ Thailand rather than just the inside of a 5* hotel.
What should I bring with me?
Travelling light is always fun and we’d encourage everyone not to pack the kitchen sink (but if you do, don’t worry, we’ll work something out).
- You will need comfortable, lightweight clothes for during the day and when in the Tuk Tuk (although if you’re travelling between November and February don’t forget a warm jacket / jumper / trousers for the cool evenings).
- Trainers for when you’re driving (flip flops aren’t great for driving!) and for trekking (you may want to bring walking boots but it’s not essential)
- Swimming stuff – you’ll have the chance to swim with elephants and two of our hotels do have pools
- A hat – honestly, it makes a huge difference to how the heat feels
- Clothes for the evenings – don’t worry, nowhere we are going has a ‘dress code’ but you might want some light trousers / long sleeved t-shirts etc to keep the mozzies at bay
- Other than that it’s up to you and if you have forgotten something there are always places locally to pick up bits and pieces
What sort of bag / luggage should I bring?
This it totally up to you. We have a ‘support’ truck with every trip and this truck is where your bags will be stored and transported from location to location (so you have more room in your Tuk Tuk so really it doesn’t matter too much. However, soft bags are always very popular (easier for us to fit in the support truck!) but suitcases are fine too. We do ask however that there’s no more than one suitcase / bag per person (excluding a day pack)
What’s the accommodation really like?
Honestly, the accommodation is fantastic and so it should be – there’s nothing better than having a great day out and about and then having somewhere really nice to relax and sleep. We’ve chosen the accommodation very carefully aiming to have a balance between high quality places but with character and none of the ‘stuffiness’ one can get in 5* resorts. We’re travelling by Tuk Tuk after all! Location to us is vital – so each resort has fantastic views and, most importantly, brilliant places to sit and have sundowner or three.
Mae Wang – we stay at a really interesting old style house that’s been converted into a beautiful small hotel. We’re in the countryside so don’t expect Ritz style service but the staff are lovely, the rooms very pleasant and it’s a fantastic base for the Tuk Tuk training and getting to know each other in the group.
Doi Inthanon – this is the most basic of our accommodation but that’s more than made up for by it’s incredible location and where we start our trek. Rooms are simple huts on the edge of rice fields in the heart of the mountains. All rooms do have their own bathrooms but the accommodation is basic. Having said that, most of our time here is spent out and about exploring the forest and the incredible scenery and the base here is a fun place to be. This is the only place where there is no air-conditioning BUT it is much cooler here in the evenings and there are plenty of fans.
Mae Sariang – we’re back to 3-4* lovely accommodation from here on in. With a great Riverside location this accommodation is a great place to rest and relax after the drive. Riverside beers, a riverside restaurant, great staff – it doesn’t get much better. We do use two different hotels from time to time in Mae Sariang – owned and run by the same people and only 100 metres or so apart (groups are always in the same hotel – we just switch hotels from time to time!).
Mae Hong Son – another very special place to stay. Lovely ‘bungalows’ on the edge of the forest, surrounded by rice paddies and with the best mountain views (and the best sunset bar, ever). Streams run through the property, there’s a pool and a great restaurant. What more could you want and if it was good enough for Brad Pitt then we reckon it’s good enough for us (and if you’re very nice we might even let you know which room he stayed in, although as the sheets are cleaned very regularly we’re not sure there’s too much left of him there!)
Pai – a relatively new resort with a number of really nice ‘bungalows’ spread across the resort area. With a tiny village to one side, rice fields all around and mountain view, this is an awesome base for the two nights we’re here. There’s a great pool – right next to the rice paddies – and very pleasant restaurant.
I’m travelling on my own but don’t want to share a room?
No problem – for a small additional fee you can have a room all to yourself. Just let us know when you’re booking your trip.
Are family rooms available?
We think this is a great trip to do as a family and there are family rooms available in some of our resorts. Where there isn’t then of course we’ll use two rooms for you next door to each other.
What about the food?
Thai food is awesome – at least 65,000,000 Thai’s think so – and you haven’t really had Thai food until you’ve eaten in Thailand and well away from the ‘tourist trail’. All the food that’s included in the trip is intentionally ordered to give a great introduction to Thai food and it isn’t as spicy as some may think (although you can of course add your own chillies if that’s your thing). Lunch stops are always in very ‘local’ areas but the food is always freshly prepared and cooked and probably far more healthy than most places around the world. Where food isn’t included in the evening our team will always be on hand to recommend the best places – be it a restaurant style meal you’re looking for or some fantastic ‘street food’.
There are always options for vegetarian’s and please let us know in advance if you have any other dietary needs / preferences.
What if I don’t want to go trekking?
No problems at all – you’re on holiday and as far as we’re concerned you can choose what to do and what not to do. The trek in Doi Inthanon isn’t too hard – we’re not scaling mountains – and it does take you to a beautiful waterfall and through amazing tiny communities, but if you really don’t want to trek then you’re more than welcome to hang out at the accommodation and have a relaxing day.
OTHER BITS AND PIECES
What happens if I get sick?
Thailand is a really healthy place to travel but in the unlikely event of you becoming unwell, we’re never too far from a health clinic or local hospital. We have a support truck with us at all times and if need be our team will always transport you to best clinic / hospital. In extreme cases our team can transfer you to Chiang Mai where there are some fantastic ‘international’ hospitals.
Can we speak to you before we travel?
We’d love to speak to you – but please do remember that we’re based here in Thailand so are on a different time zone. Drop us an email on [email protected] and we can arrange to give you a call / Skype / Facetime – whatever works for you!
How do I know you’re a proper business?
We’re a registered business here in Thailand, we have a Tourism Authority of Thailand registration license and have worked in the travel industry for longer than we’d care to remember. Our team are a healthy mixture of professional Thai tour guides and Westerners with a passion for travel and Thailand – a great combination to ensure you get the best possible experience.
If you have any other questions / queries or just want to chat about all things The Tuk Tuk Club and Thailand then drop us a line on [email protected] and we’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.