Chiang Mai is the capital of the northern Provinces of Thailand. Surrounded by lush vegetation and home to hundreds of Temples, Chiang Mai is an excellent escape from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok.
A little info on Chiang Mai via our friends at wikipedia.com
Chiang Mai (/ˈtʃjɑːŋˈmaɪ/, from Thai: เชียงใหม่ [tɕʰiəŋ màj] ( listen), Lanna: ᨩ᩠ᨿᨦᩉ᩠ᨾᩲ᩵ [t͡ɕīaŋ.màj] ( listen)) sometimes written as “Chiengmai” or “Chiangmai”, is the largest and most culturally significant city in Northern Thailand. It is the capital of Chiang Mai Province and was a former capital of the Kingdom of Lan Na (1296–1768), which became a tributary state of the Kingdom of Chiang Mai from 1774 to 1939. It is 700 km (435 mi) north of Bangkokand is situated amongst the highest mountains in the country. The city sits astride the Ping River, a major tributary of the Chao Phraya River.
Chiang Mai gained prominence in the political sphere in May 2006, when the Chiang Mai Initiative was concluded between the ASEAN nations and the “+3” countries (China, Japan, and South Korea). Chiang Mai was one of three Thai cities contending for Thailand’s bid to host the World Expo 2020 (the others were Chonburi and Ayutthaya).Ayutthaya, however, was the city ultimately chosen by the Thai Parliament to register for the international competition.
Chiang Mai has positioned itself to become a Creative City and is considering applying for Creative City status with UNESCO. Chiang Mai was one of two tourist destinations in Thailand on TripAdvisor‘s 2014 list of “25 Best Destinations in the World”, where it stands at number 24.
While officially the city (thesaban nakhon) of Chiang Mai only covers most parts of the Mueang Chiang Mai district with a population of 160,000, the city’s sprawl extends into several neighboring districts. The Chiang Mai Metropolitan Areahas a population of nearly one million people, more than half the total of Chiang Mai Province.
The city is subdivided into four wards (khwaeng): Nakhon Ping, Srivijaya, Mengrai, and Kawila. The first three are on the west bank of the Ping River, and Kawila is on the east bank. Nakhon Ping district comprises the north part of the city. Srivijaya, Mengrai, and Kawila consist of the west, south, and east parts, respectively. The city center—within the city walls—is mostly within Srivijaya ward. courtesy of wikipedia
We took Thai Air Business class for the quick 1 hour flight to Chiang Mai from Bangkok and arrived pleasantly at around the 1pm hour. It was so nice to leave Bangkok as it was really hot there and were hoping to find a more cool atmosphere in Chiang Mai You can read about our earlier trip to Bangkok another warm welcome by clicking on that link.
Chiang Mai International Airport was very small in comparison to BKK and it was most welcoming. We pre-arranged with our hotel, to hire a private driver to help make our transition into the city much more smoothly.
Our Hotel Rachamankha is located along the northern walls of the old city. Next to temples or great importance, this hotel was completely built through the imagination and careful study of its English proprietor who modeled the entire complex after traditional Lana style homes. When you first enter Rachankha you swear it is at least 200 years old, never would I have imagined that it was just recently built, and recently visited by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Wow ….. The price is really decent for such a luxurious accommodation. Our room was located on the far side of the property . The room was huge for what we paid for and came with all the amenities one would need while in Chiang Mai,with the most important being , local mosquito repellent, as Dengue fever is prevalent up here in the hills. You can read my review on the Rachamankha hotel here
After checking in and enjoying a nice walk through the beautiful property, we headed out for the day. We started with the first temple, and you must excuse me because I can’t remember any of the many temple’s names. AT ALL … All I know is that it is definitely temple row , as there is temple after temple everywhere. It was HOT!!!!! No different from Bankgok , except for the amount of pollution which was minimal. Our day was uplifting and spiritual as we visited many ancient temples carved out of rock, and participated in the many celebrations going on in the city… We did come across a really interesting museum. A museum dedicated to BUGS. Yes, Bugs… of course I had to see the gigantic centipedes etc. Now I have something else besides the mosquito to worry about.
We returned to the hotel, because yet again, my mother was physically exhausted from the heat. So rest was in store. It gave me some time to catch up on writing in my journal. The grounds of the hotel was so peaceful, and I found myself moving all over while writing. From the elegant pool, to the quiet study and library, I was in total peace.
Later that evening, starving, we decided to try our luck out in the city for a meal. We walked out to the main road, hoping to catch a cab or tuktuk, but it was taking a while. So much so, that the heavenly rain started to bless my forehead. OMG…. Finally a tuktuk stopped and demanded that if we want to go anywhere I have to pay a flat rate. I don’t him to go Flat rate himself…. The next tuktuk was a nice elderly gentleman who took us to an area, on the meter, where many different restaurants were at. I was drawn to this illuminated red restaurant. Big mistake. The food …. sucked, and sucked the money out of your wallet. Oh well lesson learned.
After Dinner ( or lack there of) we took another tuktuk to the night market. The night market is on every type of tourist information on what to do while in Chiang Mai, but I found it extremely boring, and nothing like Bangkok’s open markets. There really wasn’t anything I wanted. Oh well, back to the hotel for a little rest and some Singha Beer.
The next morning, we arranged through our hotel , for a private driver to take us touring around Chiang Mai.
First stop : Wat Phra That Toi Kham, Temple of the Golden Mount. Our driver dropped us off at the bottom, where you have two options to get to the top of the temple grounds. Climb the 1000 steps that devout devotees climb, or catch a funicular. We opted for the latter. The views were beautiful, as you can can see the lush forests below and the city below the clouds. The air was fresh, and the temple grounds were lovely. We sat and rested and took in all the scenery, as we haven’t really had moments to sit and contemplate and soak the day in. After about an hour, we left the temple and were on our way to Jade , local umbrella makers, and local artifacts shopping.
Jade shopping was awesome, and after a few factories, and some really good bargaining, mother and daughter bonded by each getting a solid free jade bangle. Next we went to the amazing umbrella shops. If you’ve ever seen those beautiful paper and bamboo asian umbrellas, know that this is the place to get the absolute best, and we did. Our final shopping stop was at this local factory of lacquer and porcelain artifacts. The craftsmanship was so beautiful, and it was perfect place to pick up gifts.
Hungry, we decided to head back to the hotel for lunch, but our driver had a different idea on where we should eat. He took us to a tiny 4 people mom and pop restaurant and posted the best Lana style Thai food in all of Chiang Mai. Boy was he absolutely right! It was delicately delicious!
We went back to the hotel for a little rest again. We were goth getting a lot of rest here in Chiang Mai, and it totally helped that our hotel was extremely comfortable. Our timing was absolutely perfectly in sync to be at our room just in time for a fantastic rain storm.
After the sun set, we got ready to go to dinner here at the hotel. Unfortunately when we arrived, it was closed to a private party… Bad planning on our part. So we asked the concierge to please hire us a taxi to take us to a restaurant that they would recommend. Dinner was lovely and very filling. I can’t remember the restaurant we went to all except that it was fabulously delicious.
Today was our last day. And after a fabulous breakfast ( included in our hotel price) at the lovely restaurant on property, we decided to go visit ….. The zoo. Our flight wasn’t leaving until 3 pm so we had plenty of time. The Zoo is gigantic and you could spend the entire day there just trying to see everything. It’s so large, that there is a monorail to take you everywhere. We fed elephants and hippos that you could actually touch, enjoyed the many different birds and creatures in the zoo. It was time to head back to the hotel to freshen up, check out, and make our way to the airport. We took a Red Truck Rickshaw called Songthaews, and it was so funny. My mother and I couldn’t stop laughing. You hop into the bed of the truck which is covered by a roof and has a bench on each side, which you share with other passengers. They are crazy drivers, but it was so much fun.
Chiang Mai was such a much-needed rest stop for us. We were in nature, and it was pleasant. We didn’t do much like riding an elephant , which a lot of people do, because I’m completely against it. In fact do yourself a favor and educate yourself on the horror elephants go through trying to carry people on their sensitive backs. There were options to go and volunteer at one of the many sanctuaries outside of the city where you don’t do anything but take care of the elephant, but I was so afraid of my mother catching Dengue Fever, that I opted against it. Next time, when alone, I will definitely be back to go and volunteer my time with the elephants..
I really loved my stay in Chiang Mai and will definitely be back.
Khap Khun Kah Chiang Mai