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The Arrival of Winter

Clear winter view COOL AND SUNNY weather will be your daily companion now that Winter has arrived, and this is certainly one of the best times of the year to visit northern Thailand.

The rainy season has just ended. You'll notice the many rivers around you rushing along with the vitality that only a swollen river can have. The 1999 rainy season in northern Thailand brought so much needed water to the area that the ground has swelled with life. From the Mekhong river in the north and all the way down to the Chao Phraya, Bangkok's major waterway which leads into the Gulf of Siam, the rains of this year should keep the rice fields going for another six months, until Thailand's rainy season arrives again.

For you, the visitor, there are other advantages. Your river-riding trips will be more exciting, your treks through the jungle areas cooler beneath the lush, green foliage, your daily activities while here -- whether they be in the cities or the country -- will be more pleasant.

In the north, you'll find the sun shines brightly but not so intensely. The early mornings will be a time of quiet while you're slowly waking up before hopping into that van or onto that motorcycle to enjoy the day.

November is the beginning of Thailand's cooler season, and, of course, that's why you've chosen this time of the year to come. If you're from the Southern Hemisphere your friends and family are just entering summer -- and you people from 'down under' know how very hot it gets in the summer months there. If you're from the Northern Hemisphere --especially Europe and northern America -- your friends and family are just entering those very cold winters that have recently become a fixture in the temperate zones.

Hilltribe people in the north So, be happy you're here. You've made a wise choice, even if some of those wonderful people you know back home said before you left, "Why are you going to Asia?". Well, your good reasons are rewarded and you're the lucky ones.

November also marks the beginning of 'High Season' in Thailand, and of course this means that many others like you have decided to come at this time of year. Well, that's great. Think of all the new and interesting people you're going to meet (or, maybe you've already met them). Yes, the cities can get crowded, but crowds are a lot of fun, too, don't you think? In Chiangmai, if you really want to throw yourself into the middle of a crowd, don't miss the Night Bazaar. Ever been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans or Rio? Well, the Night Bazaar isn't exactly like Mardi Gras, but you'll find enough life and activity there to keep you going for a while. To say nothing of the tremendous variety of northern-made goods you can browse, and maybe even buy.

Textiles from the North and Northeast are the Big Thing in clothing this year and you'll find a wide variety at the Night Bazaar. Not only the Thai textiles from the northeast (Esarn), but also unique imported textiles and garments from Kampuchea, Laos, Yunnan and Myanmar -- How Exotic!!

If you're planning to go further north around Chiangrai don't forget what's on offer to you there. Now, we aren't talking about huge, sprawling markets or crowded cities. We're talking about nature -- real nature.

Chiangrai city itself is a slow-paced small city with the beautiful Mae Kok River floating past. Outside of Chiangrai city, you have the whole world at your fingertips; the world few visitors see, that is. You can easily find your way to northern Thailand's ancient capital of Chiang Saen. You can get to the very remote and relatively untouched area of Chiang Khong, on the Mekhong River bordering Laos (and the people are quite different there). You can easily get up to the border town of Mae Sai, and on the way you might want to visit some of northern Thailand's astounding mountain areas.

In these mountains, you sometimes feel like you're leaving Thailand altogether. Of course, you're not really, but you feel that way. You have an opportunity to see the various hilltribe villages of the north, and they are everywhere -- not standing out to attract your attention, but they are there, and the people are living their traditional lifestyle. If you decide to take a one, two or three day trek through the North, you'll visit many of these villages and it's well worth it.

Lest we forget another recommendation, there is also the extreme eastern corner of Chiangrai province, Phu Chee Fah. This area is incredibly spectacular. It's remote and the highlight is getting up before daybreak, climbing to the summit of the 1,500 meter hilltop and viewing the sunrise. Your souvenir photos of this precious moment will be treasured forever.

Oh yes, you've come at a good time of the year. It's cooler now. It's sunny, and the streets come alive with the annual blossoming of the trees. If you have enough time, see it all. If you're on a limited schedule, well.. you'll just have to make some decisions. Perhaps some of the articles, along with our maps, can help you make that choice. Enjoy & Have Fun!!


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