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18/04/15_Report_Songkran City Special

Only two intrepid hikers turned up for this urban hike in the Songkran holiday.

Group photo

We set off from the north-west (Hua Lin) corner of the moat. “Hua Lin” apparently means head+aqueduct, and indeed we noted a sluice with water rushing into the moat there. At that corner when driving I have always been intrigued by the appearance of a French-rococo palace inside the city. We would find out more when returning at the end of our loop.

What is that French-rococo palace?

Continuing along the north side of the moat, we found vendors beginning to set up their stalls for the day, to sell plastic water-guns and associated gizmos, along with comestible refreshments. We next paused at the exquisite Wat Lok Moli, where we came across the ceremony for supplying water in front of the Buddha image high on the stupa, using strings and pulleys and a golden bird escorting the bamboo water-jug.

Refilling the jug taking water by string-lift to the Buddha image on the stupa at Wat Lok Moli

We entered the old city by the Chang Phueak (North) Gate, and continuing eastwards along relatively quiet backstreets, until emerging near the north-east (Sri Poom) corner, where we visited the wonderfully sagging rampart.

Sagging rampart at Sri Poom corner

From there we walked toward the river. The outer wall of the US Consulate is decorated with murals, some of which already have nostalgia value.

Detail of mural on US Consulate outer wall, by Suksa Songkhro Chiangmai School

On the other side of the road, there’s more nostalgia outside the Municipality Disaster Prevention and Mitigation offices.

Old fire engine, Chiang Mai Municipality offices

After walking a little along the river embankment, we entered the Wororot Market area. Then on to Wat Saen Fang and Thapae Road.

Double Goose (or Swan?) shop in Wororot Market area


Wheel mounted inside the stupa enclosure at Wat Saen Fang


Old wooden house on Thapae Road

At Thapae Gate, a Lanna Cultural space had been created for the morning, before the afternoon’s Songkran procession and the evening’s public competition to find Mr and Ms Songkran. But we didn’t wait for those. Instead we made for the Three Kings area, where we passed by Wat Inthakin.

Elaborately decorated silver-coloured door near Wat Inthakin

Reaching the north-side moat again, we found the street-life was warming up: a pretty scene among the blossing Golden Shower (Cassia Fistula) trees along the banks.

Songkran street life, near Wat Rajamontean, looking toward Wat Lok Moli

Buddha statue at Wat Rajamontean

While still inside the moat, we found that the French-rococo palace we’d seen earlier is the Pingdoi Hua Lin Botique (sic) Hotel. But was it something else previously? Built for a never-realized visit by Napoleon III, perhaps? Anyone know?

By the time we reached the finishing-straight, the Songkran day was becoming wet as well as warm. We were happy to reach our parked cars before the traditional traffic gridlock around the old city.


Conclusion: Urban hikes are worthwhile too, perhaps sometimes as gentler alternatives to a country hike. Add a comment if you have other ideas for similar hikes – especially if you would like to help lead one.


Report by Michael. Photos by Michael and Bob.



18/04/01 Trip report Mae Jaem forest loop


Twelve hikers and one K9 gathered on another smoky day at the rendezvous point and set of for the, hopefully, clearer air of Mae Jaem.  The air was a little clearer but still quite bad and the normally beautiful views were, alas, not to be had but it was cooler.  The group set off on the trail which leads up the go-kart track and was enthusiastically inspected by some hikers in anticipation of the return and having a run down it.  At the top we came to the newly expanded dirt road and had a leisurely walk before making a short, but quite steep, descent and after some more gentle ascents we came to the highest point of the hike on which there is a statue of the last ruler of Lua, Khun Luang Wilangka.   According to records, his empire covered much of Chiang Mai and Lamphun but he was defeated by Queen Jamathewi and retreated to the surrounding hills where he, allegedly, committed, suicide.  Legend has it that his dying wish was to be buried at the highest point in the area so he could watch over his lost kingdom.

Taking a break here it was possible to make out some of the surrounding scenery but not clear enough for photos.  After the break it was back on the wide dirt road and gentle ups-and-downs until taking a trail which took us down on to another dirt road and the lowest point of the hike and from here on it was uphill for about 2km, the last bit quite steep, before rejoining the outward route which we followed until reaching a junction.  Here we split into groups, those who wanted a shorter hike and to go go-karting and those who fancied a little longer hike.  Once decided the groups went their separate ways and managed to finish at the same time.  No photos of the go-karters’ I’m afraid but they seemed to have fun.

Fun time over it was a short drive to the restaurant where the usual post-hike refreshments were had.

Thanks to all who turned out making it another great day.

Special thanks to J for the group photo, which took a lot of patience in setting up; to B and M for the history lesson.

Hope S is on the mend as it was his hike but he had an unfortunate accident on Friday and unable to make it



18/03/25 Trip report – Upside down hike


Eleven hikers (which included 2 visiting Newbies and 3 returnees) and 2 Beagles met up at the rendezvous point for this Sunday’s hike.  After working the transport arrangements, complicated a bit as there were to be 2 finishing points,  the group set off for higher, cooler and hopefully a bit less hazy climes.

The hike started off well, the trails were good, no one got lost (not even the leaders) and good progress was made even with one poor soul who was suffering with an upset stomach for the first part of the hike.

Being an upside down hike the first half was mainly downhill until we came to some farmland where we crossed a stream and followed a dirt road, crossed the stream a couple of more times and came to a trail which marked the start of the ascent.  The trek up was taken at a slower pace and we finally came up on to a ridge which offered some scenic views even in the haze.

We found a suitable spot on the ridge and stopped for lunch and discuss who was going to take which route down.  Lunch completed and decisions made we began the descent until reaching a fork in the trail where we split up.  One group of intrepids (6 hikers and 2 Beagles) opted to take the high route which entailed some more uphill work, a bit of bushwhacking and a very steep descent which resulted in some very sore knees and, for one unfortunate an attack of toe-cramp.  But they all made it safely down.  The second group opted for a longer but easier route which lead down into a village where transport had been strategically placed to enable them to get to the all important restaurant.


Everyone made it back to the restaurant in time to enjoy the usual post-hike refreshments and regale the hi/low-lights of the hike.

Thanks to all for making it another great day on the hills.

Special thanks to L for the photos





18/03/25_Upside down hike

All hikers are responsible for their own safety at all times. Burning forest possible and smoky air guaranteed. No groups, please. No re-advertising online, please. Seats in cars cannot be guaranteed. A 1-hour drive each way to/from the meeting point to the trailhead. 

We usually go up hills and then back down, but this one is a bit different. (See elevation graph of a longer version of our intended Sunday loop below.) Starting at the border of Chiangmai and Lampang at the top of H.1252 and walking down to the remote village of Ban Doi Lanka. And back. Up.

Ban DL loop map

Roughly 13 kms, up/down about 900m. Depending on group size, composition and disposition, we may be able to investigate a couple of shortcuts which could reduce all of distance, min and maximum elevation stats a little. Another option would omit the final steep-up-very-steep-down peak but extend the final downhill a lot, and also then probably need driver shuttles from Ban Mae Dton Luang back to the trailhead. 6-7 hours including breaks. Nice views from time to time. Mostly shady trails.

Meeting point: In front of Susco at 07.20 (for an 07.30 departure). Then a 1 hour drive to the trailhead, where parking space is limited, so let’s maximise car-sharing.  (Second meeting point at Bangjak Doi Saket at 07.45, by arrangement.)


Please bring:

  • at least 2 litres of water/rehydration drink
  • protection from sun/heat, insects (including khun), thorns
  • energy snacks and picnic lunch
  • strong legs/knees, footwear with deep tread/good grip, trekking pole/stick
  • lots of energy, team spirit and good humour
  • passengers please bring 100 baht for your driver and a change of shirt/clothes for the drive home.

18/03/18_Report_Beyond Buddha’s Footprint

A relatively small group of 10 hikers met at the Arboretum for this late winter hike on Doi Pui. We speculated that perhaps the seasonal visitors are beginning to leave Chiang Mai now that spring is beckoning in their homelands. Our group traveled in three cars and two motorbikes to the start of the hike at Ban Hmong Doi Pui, a popular tourist destination on the south slope of the mountain. There we met another hiker who had arrived by motorbike to join our group, which now numbered eleven.

From the hill tribe village we proceeded on a gradually rising trail through a highland forest for about two kilometers until reaching a saddle with a large valley opening to the north. Beyond the saddle we continued northwest about one kilometer up a gradual incline until reaching a rocky summit at 1522 meters elevation. A quick snack and drink refreshed the group in preparation for the trek “beyond Buddha’s Footprint” which only two of us had previously visited.

Just beyond Buddha’s Footprint on the top of the ridge, we encountered a newly constructed meeting venue consisting of a stage with benches to accommodate over a hundred people, a small campground, and two concrete toilets with running water for the convenience of visitors. Signs and written slogans indicated the area was a meeting place for villagers and volunteers working to prevent fires and preserve the wilderness.

Hiking down the ridge, we entered new territory with less underbrush, more pines, and more open views to the valley below. Traversing around a small peak, we shortly arrived at a junction of several roads leading to hill tribe villages below. There we encountered a small group of villagers who appeared to be enjoying a social get-together while some of the women engaged in craft activity. From the junction we hiked up a road to the grassy summit of a small mountain where we enjoyed a lite lunch while imagining the views of Doi Inthanon we’d see on a day that offered greater visibility.

From our pleasant hill top lunch spot, we retraced our steps back down and then up the ridge leading toward the newly constructed meeting venue. Once reaching that point, we elected to follow the trail that traverses the west slope of the ridge below Buddha’s Footprint. We noted that the trail had recently been improved and cleared of dense underbrush. There were some flowering trees to be seen, but clearly they were beyond their prime.

Rejoining the main trail we returned along the path previously traveled to the village from which we had departed. Before leaving for home, we enjoyed a second lunch and liquid refreshments while sharing impressions of the day’s experience. The consensus found the hike to be an agreeable extension of the classic trek to Buddha’s Footprint.

Total distance covered: 13 km., elevation gain: 615 meters, time elapsed, including breaks and lunch: 6 hours.

Hike initiation and report by Michael G. Photos by Michaels G & M, and Janet

18/03/11_Trip Report_Baan Huai Mo Loop

A group of 23 intrepid hikers set out by car and motorbike, winding up a small single track mountain road to the starting point with hopes of finding clear air at higher elevations…not to be disappointed.  We walked through shaded forest on well marked trails for most of the way on a gradual incline until eventually reaching ridge trails which offered beautiful vistas of the surrounding mountains only slightly shrouded in smog.  The group decided to stay together and push on for the harder option rather than split into two groups and continued on uphill.
At one point a bypass was taken as a shortcut to avoid going over the top of two hills, but in hindsight the hills would have been preferred.

The difficult section involved traversing the side of a steep slope.

The difficult section also involved a steep climb up a buttress ridge.

We slipped and stumbled along a steep, narrow goat-path and after several treacherous moments were happy to arrive relatively unscathed back on the ridge for our lunch stop.  This must have been the ‘new section’…not to be repeated.

We continued downhill on a clear trail towards a steep rocky outcropping  that tempted 5 hikers to scale the rock wall to its jagged peak, looking over the precipice and snapping a few pics to prove we made it to the top.

From here it was a gentle downhill all the way back to the cars made uncomfortable for one hiker due to a persistently spasming calf muscle, but improved with cold refreshments and food at the post-hike establishment.

9.6 kms
Elevation +/- 700m
6 hours  10 mins
23 hikers – youngest 9 years old!

Hike leadership by MikeHike and PGB. Report by Jenny. Photos by Michael M.

18/02/25_Hike report_Wat Umong to Wat Doi Kham

19 people joined this suburban hike, assembling at 07:15. Ten minutes’ walk up from Canal Road, we entered the main gate of Wat Umong, and spent 20 minutes or so in its grounds, visiting its tunnels, the stupa, and the lake. A small island, connected to the bank by a pair of foot-bridges, is home to a large snake, we learned. It was only after some of us had stepped over its rear end thinking it was a tree-root, that we noticed the front end, under a bush, devouring a pigeon. It’s a reticulated python (thanks, Richard).

Reticulated python devouring a pigeon on the island at Wat Umong. Photo by Janet.


Black Crowned Night Heron at Wat Umong. Photo by Janet.


Aviary at the wildlife education center near Wat Umong.

Leaving Wat Umong by the side-gate, we briefly visited the Choeng Doi Suthep Wildlife and Nature Education Center, long enough to look at the enclosed birds and catch a glimpse of deer near the entrance. But there does not seem to be an alternative to leaving again by the main gate. So we made our way onward across some soon-to-be-developed land, to reach the most westerly lane leading southward. The area through which we next walked includes an interesting mixture of homes (from shacks to mansions) and small businesses.

Wall of pots outside a house along our route. Photo by Janet.

Although the mountain forest is close on the right, there are few opportunities to enter the Doi Suthep National Park, but we got a bit of woodland-walking near the access-point used in Richard’s hike of last rainy season. There we turned south-east, and soon crossed into the Mae Hia (agricultural) campus of Chiang Mai University, from where we could see our the giant Buddha statue of Wat Doi Kham on the hill ahead of us.

In CMU Mae Hia campus, with Wat Doi Kham visible of the hill.

After tracing a path around the campus’ lakes and among its crop fields, a little more road-walking was needed in order to reach the staircase that makes the final ascent to Wat Doi Kham.

The final (naga) stage of staircase leading up to Wat Doi Kham.

Our counts of the number of steps ranged between 487 and 510.

Reaching the top, we found Wat Phra Tat Doi Kham very full of visitors, motor vehicles, and stalls for souvenirs and refreshments. There was time for some of us to walk round and see the temple complex, but most of us used that time to recover with cold drinks. We then all bundled into a couple of songthaews to take us to the bottom of the hill, and a couple more to return us to our morning’s starting-point, which we reached around 11.45.

Hike initiation and report by Michael M.