When we talk about the northern part of Thailand, we can’t definitely go past the Chiang Mai. Many believe that cities in the northern Thailand are still the right ones, authentic and compared to the one in the south, much less flooded with tourists. You can’t get away from the crowds so easily in the Thailand, and no worries, you will certainly not stroll the streets on your own 😀 quite the opposite.
We travelled to Chiang Mai by bus from “neighbouring” Chiang Rai. The ride takes about three hours, for which we were charged 180 THB (approx. € 5,50) per person. Given that the last bus stop is a bit far from the city centre, it is necessary to take another local bus or taxi to get to your hotel.
Getting around the town… If you are staying in the city centre, it is definitely best to walk to most of the sights. Otherwise, it’s a great choice to drive around with a songthaew (yes, strange name 😃) → these are reworked small trucks that drive you around the city as well as to the surrounding villages for relatively little money. Considering that you must sit on wooden benches, which you usually share with large number of people, driving alone may not be super comfortable – but it is most certainly always fun.
We chose an alternative. Scooter! You can rent it for only € 8 per day, you put a liter or two of fuel in it and you win. Despite the indescribable crowds and considerable shortage of motorcycle experience, we visited all the sights and night markets we had in plan → without a fall and with only one ticket from the local police officers, but about that, maybe some another time 😎
Chiang Mai has a very interesting shape of the city centre, as it is surrounded by a wall and water moat in shape of a perfect square. Right in the heart of the city centre is a whole bunch of more or less known temples, but most people are attracted to many night markets that take place every night, especially on weekends. The biggest night market is on Sundays, which takes place on Rachadamnoen Street. They close about two kilometres of the road, and street is flooded with the stalls, where you can find various artworks, souvenirs and of course, food.
All street-food lovers, must visit Saturday night market, held on Wua Lai Street. Among all kind of Thai specialties, you will definitely find something for you taste. We found our best Mango Sticky Rice in Thailand right here! And what is that? It is a kind of coconut milk rice with fresh sweet mango, so simple and so delicious.
Well, enough about the food and shopping! The biggest and most famous attraction is located about ten kilometres out of town. Doi Suithep is a temple at the top of a mountain, at the end of the winding and very steep road. How to get there? Definitely the easiest, most convenient and comfortable way is to get yourself a scooter and just drive. But remember that, when you reach the top, there is still an ascent of about 300 steps! Admission fee is free for locals, but foreigners need to pay 30 THB. We don’t need to tell you, that is nearly impossible to convince the security guy that you are Thai, right? 😃
In addition to night markets, temples and other sights, Chiang mai has a lot of more interesting things to do, but it is also a great starting point for further exploration of the country and we took the advantage of it. Next stop: Phuket!
S & B