A total of 16 days spent in the 2nd largest City in Thailand however is still relatively small with only around 190,000 people residing there (which vastly increases during peak tourist season and a stroll down the Sunday market will open your eyes to what that amount of people in one street will look like) so… were about to explore the unique city of Chiang Mai.
Arriving at Chaing Mai airport, we stepped off the plane to some rain, thought it had to be some mistake and the pilot had looked at our pale complexion when 33,000 feet in the air and took us back to Scotland. No mistake, just the heavens reminding us what we had left behind.
We hopped into the Red taxi bus and were on our way to our first hotel/hostel, we quickly learned you can travel pretty much anywhere in these little pick up truck taxi’s for around 50 THB, within reason, I doubt they will fancy taken you to Wallyford for the same price but worth a shot I suppose. Our first couple off days were spent exploring the main square in Chiang Mai, which is essentially in a moat guarding the old city of Lanna (now modern day Chiang Mai which means ‘New City’) and tasting the local delicacies of which a lot were squids on a stick which at first i thought were for chasing people away with, as opposed to eating. Be aware when you google “city center” of Chiang Mai this will point you in the direction of “The old Town” – although this was perfect for us, quiet and yet walking distance to where we wanted to be, the real “City Center” located next to the bars, night bazaar and lively streets is located a good 1.5km away from here.
The Market is a huge event in Chiang Mai and a local elderly man courteously stopped two lost looking jocks and explained a little about it, unfortunately at the time i was pretty hungry and all i could smell was the food coming from nearby so was, through no fault of my own, unable to listen to anything at all really and considering eating the loose peanuts that had fallen to the bottom of my backpack 3 days prior. The market was huge and spanned the whole street of Ratchadamnoen Road (or walking street) and unlike the Night Bazaar, which is filled with imitation designer labels, the market is a showcase of the art and craftsmanship of the locals which is of a really high quality and if you get sore feet at any point….you can crawl…or grab a foot massage for around 70THB from one of the many local massage stalls parked along the road.
We ate the street food pretty much every day as was ridiculously cheap, tasty (although the squid on the stick was still only necessary when chasing away taxi drivers) and above all they were on pretty much every corner including right outside the gym we used most days. Whenever we left Strong Gym we crawled out and the market was set up almost waiting for us, and Megan was off trying to hunt down her sweet potato like an captain Ahab with me traipsing behind her stuffing my fat face with another Pad Thai (no stereotype jokes on the below picture please, like, did that fall off your plate? or at least private mail them) 😉
ighly recommend Strong Gym (Located in Kad Suan Kaew Department Store), only 70THB per day to use and although the equipment looked like it was recovered from the old soviet union, it still done the job and the staff are all really helpful and friendly. Or if you are on an even smaller budget or just like to work out outdoors tucked into the southwest corner of the old city is the only park within the city walls, Suan Buak Hart. The park is a good size with a large pond in the middle and with a running track, outdoor gym which even offers some weights made out of concrete blocks, a basketball court or some lush grass to practice your yoga on – on in our case pass out on to after a few sprints and sit ups. And none of this costing you a penny….only your dignity when the locals show you up.
If street food isn't your thing there are hundreds of quirky cafes and restaurants to choose from – ranging from your fine dining hotels and a la carte serving you local Thai dishes or a taste of home with pizza's, pasta's and burgers, to your local Thai cuisine with extremely cheap and equally delicious food. We would highly recommend "The good Kitchen" where we ate almost everyday tasting a different dish on the menu. Located just down from Chiang Mai's famous Wat Phra Singh temple and a mere 70THB a dish it is a must. If you head little further down the road you can then wash your dinner down with a mocha and treat yourself to some cake at our favorite cafe "Moonpie" where you can sit and watch the world go by (or a thousands tourists fighting their way through the walking market which is just, if nothing else, entertaining). Thought it would be useful to add, to all the vegetarians, vegans and the people who just like to eat organically , do not fret I have good news. Chiang mai is very on board with serving vegetarian in almost every restaurant. It even boasts restaurants specifically catering for these dietary needs. If only it was as easy for gluten free! However as the main grain here is rice and not wheat (with many things being rice flour based) Megan doesn't need to worry as much and she can't go very wrong with a bowl of steamed rice and veggies – however you will still find her hunting down her grilled sweet potato as in her words "doesn't bloat her as much and isn't as boring".
ed up of walking after a while and decided to rent a scooter, seemed we had also tired of living, as the moment we pulled onto the busy streets it felt like Mario cart…so i decided to start throwing banana peels and mushrooms about the road. We got used to the driving and it was nice to have a blaise attitude to driving and pretty much no rules on the road, probably would be a different story had we been mashed off a Tuk-Tuk. We loaded up the hog and drove about 45 mins southwest to the Grand Canyon, it looked at one point to be a beautiful little place but it has been sold out and is now a strict money making area with rules and prices for everything, i was at one point about to sneeze and a local stopped me mid way and pointed to his piggy bank :). Admittedly we still had a good time then jumped back on the scooter like Harry & Lloyd back to Aspen.
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d we should try take one of the organised trips while in Chiang Mai and opted for the trip to Doi Ityhanon, which is part of the Himalayian mountain range some 2500 meters above sea level and was pretty chilly. the guide was brilliant however you get pretty rushed from stop off to stop off and decided that, despite strolling around the late king Bumihol's garden, we would not rush to do another organised trip and especially on windy mountains (anyone who gets travel sick like myself would not enjoy that part) we will stick to taking the hog.
< img class=”alignnone wp-image-156″ src=”https://pangaeawanderers.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/chiang-mai-blog-pics-33-001.jpg” alt=”chiang-mai-blog-pics-33-001″ width=”4808″ height=”2962″>< img class=”alignnone wp-image-154″ src=”https://pangaeawanderers.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/chiang-mai-blog-pics-31.jpg” alt=”chiang-mai-blog-pics-31″ width=”4802″ height=”3080″> If you happen to have a few rainy days like we did or just want to escape the 30 degree heat, you have to check out the 5 main shopping malls – Central plaza Airport, Maya Lifestyle shopping Center, Central Festival Chiang Mai, Kad Suan Kaew Department Store and Promenada Resort. They may not be the Mega Malls of Bangkok but they are definitely on the rise with their modern designs, fashion stores, cinema’s (which we went to on two occasions for a whopping £3), restaurants, bakeries and sport facilities – they even have a H&M! All within a short Tuk-Tuk ride away, scooter or even cycle to.
NYE – For us, the best time of the year to be at home is Hogmany, unfortunately we are stuck with 35 degree heat in a beautiful country…but no…don’t pray for us…. we will get through. In all seriousness we would like to have been surrounded by all our friends and families, and in a way, we were, as we headed to the lantern festival which was filled with loads of balloons 🙂 definitely one of our highlights and is performed down at Phae Gate.
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't write about Chiang Mai without mentioning the guest house, At Phra Sing would recommend looking it up if your ever looking for somewhere, very friendly staff and family run who love what they do, feel free to look them up, even made us breakfast at 5pm when i decided to get out my chariot and face the world. Most mornings they would add a sweet Thai dessert to try, and of course, anything sweet Megan devoured them all and after failed searches for these coconut triangles at the market, Mrs Bee went out and got her some the next again day!
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t the chance on our travels we will definitely head back to Chiang Mai, although we done and ate pretty much everything it has to offer…I could always eat it again.<<<<<<