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Riding the Thai Elephants

October 07, 1990|Baraby Conrad

Getting there: A number of airlines fly from Los Angeles to Bangkok, including United, Delta, Northwest, Singapore and Thai. Economy fares cost about $1,500 round trip, depending on the time of year.

Thai Airways offers service from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, about 430 miles north, for $106 round trip. Contact Thai Airways at (800) 426-5204.

When to go: The best months to visit Thailand are November through February. A good time to go for elephant lovers is mid-November, for the annual Elephant Roundup in Surin, which is about 300 miles northeast of Bangkok. The colorful event, which draws visitors from around the world, is a sort of celebration involving about 150 elephants, with music, games, contests, etc., held in an area the size of a football field. This year, the event will take place Nov. 17-18.

Accommodations: Among the best places to stay in Chiang Mai are the Chiang Inn, 100 Changklan Road (175 rooms, air-conditioned; from $50 single per night to $200 for suites), and the Orchid Chiang Mai, 100 Huay Kaew Road (air-conditioned, swimming pool; from $50 to $300).

Seeing the elephants: There are several elephant training areas near Chiang Mai. The best is probably at Lampang, less than an hour's drive from the city. Some have pleasant restaurants. The concierge at your hotel can give you the prices of the day's outing, which will vary but usually cost less than $100 per person.

Visas: No visa is needed for Thailand unless travelers are planning to stay more than 14 days.

For more information: Contact the Tourism Authority of Thailand, 3440 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1101, Los Angeles 90010, (213) 382-2353.

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