Whilst the choice of river dinner cruises in Bangkok is overwhelming, the same is not true of Chiang Mai. Mae Ping River Cruise is probably the best established of the few companies that run dinner cruises in Chiang Mai. However, the choice of food isn’t extensive with the option of a set menu or a limited choice of individual dishes. The boats cater for up to 30 people and depart at 7pm returning at 9pm.
An alternative to the evening cruise is a daytime trip along the Ping River to a Thai farmer’s house. Boats depart from the pier at Wat Chaimongkon on Chaeron Prathet Road (close to Anusarn Market and the Chedi Hotel). The route takes a leisurely course through the town and into the countryside. The views are pretty without being spectacular, but it is a very pleasant way to spend a few hours and get another perspective of the city. The boat stops at a Thai farmer’s house and your boat guide will explain the various plants and fruits being grown before you have a chance to sample the fruit. The guides are charming and are particularly keen to point out that Sylvester Stallone filmed a scene from John Rambo (Rambo IV) here and there’s every chance you’ll get to hear their Sly Stallone anecdotes (apparently he’s a very nice man). Shot on location in and around Chiang Mai the movie is scheduled for release in May 2008.
After the refreshment stop, boats return to the pier at Wat Chaimongkon. Your hotel, guest-house or tour operator can book the trip for you with inclusive transfers to and from the pier. You can also make your own way to the pier, although there is no real cost saving in doing so.