Here is the blog post on Part 2 of my recent trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Tourists by the thousands journey to Chiang Mai every year looking for the fabulous attractions and fascinating history the city has to offer. I must admit that it is not as metropolitan in spirit as Bangkok but it is becoming gradually more modern and has several luxury and economical hotels to offer. It offers a cooler mountain climate and breathtaking natural beauty. It is an ideal retreat for those seeking a tranquil and sedate vacation.
Chiang Mai is a shoppers paradise, and nothing beats shopping for a bargain more than in in the famous Chiang Mai Night Bazzar. The Night Bazaar is open every day of the year regardless of the weather from dusk till around midnight.
While you are in the Night Bazaar, make sure you check out another good market, Asunarm Market which is an offshoot from the main Chiang Mai Night Bazzar. During the day time, the Anusarn Market is devoid of any vendor stalls, however all the permanent shops, bars and eateries around the inside walls of the market area are still open for business. The back of the market area is used in the daytime to store a good number of the metal mobile stalls that are used nightly all along the main Night Bazaar. After the mobile vendor stalls are moved out each afternoon, the Anusarn Market vendors move in, erect their large tent type stalls and start to operate.
There is a small number of restaurants and burger, pizza shops along the Night Bazzar, plus a heap of mobile food street stalls for those in need of a quick bite. Banana Roti, yum.
Even if you do not want to buy anything (but you probably will) just going for a stroll up and down the Night Bazaar is an amazing experience. The place is alive with brightly coloured lights, music, the sounds of tourists bargaining for goods and the aromatic smells as you pass by a hot food vendor. Every open bit of space becomes a place for someone to set up a stall.
This Night Bazzaar and Anusarn Market are great little spots to have a rest or a bite to eat and put the feet up for a while to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and these 2 places are definitely not to be missed on any visit to Chiang Mai !!
In the daytime, Chang Khlan Road is an ordinary street full of shops, hotels and restaurants of all types including Starbucks and the Burger King, along with the first McDonalds in the city. There are also several large shopping arcades running off the main street.
Chiang Mai’s many and varied attractions are spread out around the main city of Chiang Mai and its surrounding areas. Getting around is therefore something every visitor needs to think about and there are many transportation options to suit every budget and provide you with a range of different experiences.
One of the most iconic and unique ways to get around Chiang Mai, whether you are going a short or long distance is the red songtaew. Songtaew is a red van with two rows of seats in the back (hence their name – meaning two rows). There are many songtaews driving around the city and can be flagged down like you would a taxi. Simply stop a songtaew and tell the driver where you want to go. You will have to negotiate the price with him, but songtaews tend to be a very cheap way to get around the city. Songtaews are also a good option for making day trips, as they can be hired for longer periods of time. If you wish to hire a songtaew for a longer period, it might be a good idea to ask at your hotel to help you to make the arrangement.
Chiang Mai has also no shortage of the iconic tuk-tuk. Like tuk-tuks in Bangkok and other places, riding a tuk-tuk is an experience all tourists must try. Remember to negotiate well with the driver before getting in. Motorbikes are also an increasingly popular and convenient way to get around the city, especially for short trips. Both tuk-tuks and motorbikes can be found in abundance in the main tourist areas such as the old quarter of Chiang Mai.
My hotel stay was at this Royal Princess located along Chang Khlan Road and this hotel was once a grand dame hotel that catered to elite Thais coming from different parts of the country to Chiangmai. Today, the hotel is patronized by tour groups, and most people who particularly like the location because it is right in the middle of the famous night bazaar you cannot complain about sore feet from walking. Although the hotel tries to offer promotional rates, those rates do not include breakfast. Maybe that is a blessing because you can walk outside and look for food, adding adventure to an otherwise predictable environment.
If one has been budget travelling in the more so-called developed parts of Asia, such as Hong Kong and Japan, you have probably had to skimp on comfort when choosing accommodations. If you ever want to pamper yourself though and not spend much more than you would at most city hotels in particular, you should certainly check out the hotels in Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai is a safe and convenient city with many excellent hotels. Too many in fact. The current glut of extra hotel rooms during all but the busiest holidays combined with the current favorable Singapore dollar to Thai baht exchange rate has created an excellent opportunity for budget travellers.
At some point in Thailand, you will come across the saffron-robed Thai monks, they are very much part of Thai life, even in the cities. Some of them are actually young novices (not yet full-pledged monks).
The ancient city of Chiang Mai is one of Thailand’s prettiest and most laid back cities in the whole of Asia. Blessed with a large number of magnificent temples as well as a charming old city centre, unspoiled wilderness areas, ancient fortifications and bustling markets offering a wide range of excellent bargains for shoppers, this vibrant city is popular among tourists who travel here to explore Thailand’s mountainous northern region.
Another must see on any visit to Chiang Mai is the wondrous and holy temple of Wat Phra That which is located near the top of Doi Suthep (Mount Suthep). The temple is simply often referred to as Doi Suthep by most people.
Just past the viewing terrace is one of the worlds largest gongs, which makes an earthly rich sound when struck. Give it a try, it is allowed.
Any trip to Thailand would not be complete without a visit to its many temples. The temples in Chiang Mai share many similar features with Thai wats across the nation with the exception of having many small bells hang off the temple roofs. The decorative style and colours of temples here are also pretty varied and makes for an interesting visit.
Built as a Buddhist monastery centuries ago, it is still a working monastery today. Funds raised by donations and the lift fee go to support the monks living there and for maintenance of the various temple buildings. The architecture, statues, murals and shrines seen here are nothing short of breathtaking.
Outside this central enclave area you will find the shrine to the White Elephant and the story of how the temple on Doi Suthep was founded. According to legend, the temple is built on the spot where a white elephant carrying a sacred relic, believed to be Buddha’s shoulder bone, had trumpeted three times and died. To get to the temple, you have a climb slightly more than 300 steps to reach it.
There is a wide walkway around the main temple which leads you to a large viewing terrace with terrific views down over Chiang Mai, weather permitting.
At the top of the mountain, you are also greeted with the sight of the golden spire which decorates the centre of the mountain top temple. The walls around the spire form a mini enclave and are richly decorated with historical murals and shrines.
In conculsion, you are certain to be dazzled by the natural beauty, friendly natives and the plethora of enjoyable activities that are to be found within Chiang Mai’s modern culture. I will definitely drop by again at Chiang Mai in the very near future. :-)
My only concern is on the ongoing recent flooding situation in many areas of Thailand that has been serious this year mainly because it has been so prolonged. As you may all be aware, parts of Thailand has been struggling with serious flooding for weeks and it is with our deepest sympathy that Bangkok is now seriously bracing to cope up with the current flood situation. Many people are deeply saddened by the crisis it has brought and may still bring in the coming days.
A lot have been saying that they haven’t seen so much rain or floods for a long time. Tourists should be careful about white water rafting and visiting waterfalls. Even a waterfall that seems dry can turn into a raging torrent within minutes if there is a flash flood. But this is not to say that the whole of Thailand is under water. Apparently, only most of Bangkok is seriously affected by the recent flood. I sincerely hope that the flooding in Bangkok will subside soon within the soonest possible as weather conditions improve.
Lastly, i hereby express my deepest sympathy for those who are affected and devastated by the massive flooding that hope that they will always have the courage and continue to stay strong in this most difficult times. I wish for everyone’s safety and that people of Thailand can soon bring back their smiles. After all, Thailand will always be the Land of Smiles.
A freelance Singapore-based travel photographer / photojournalist. I seek the extraordinary, but finds beauty in the everyday. Life is interesting, capture it.
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