28.07.16 – 08.08.16
We spent 8 full days in Chiang Mai, exploring the town and what it had to offer. Many travellers use Chiang Mai as a base to reach other nearby towns like Pai or Chiang Rai. We admit our travel style is fairly slow, but it gave a great chance to relax, recharge and enjoy Chiang Mai.
While there are day and night markets scattered around the city walls, the Sunday Night Market through the centre of the old town is by far the one to check out. Make sure you’re in Chiang Mai on a Sunday! It is a monster market that stretches in all directions and offers everything from souvenirs to food and plenty of it.
After arriving in Chiang Mai, just hours after being in Siem Reap, its safe to say we were ‘templed out’. This notion carries from our entire trip through Asia. There are just pagodas and temples everywhere. The temples in town just didn’t inspire us, but we had heard good things about Doi Suthep, a local temple situated on the top of a local mountain. You can always try and get a local songthaew (truck), but we hired a scooter for the day and explored the mountain, temple and local waterfalls. Locating Doi Suthep is not hard, just take the main road to the North-East of town and it becomes the mountain road.
Doi Suthep costs 150Baht ($6 AUD) to enter and its worth the walk through and around the temple. While riding up there are are few good viewing points, but the view over Chiang Mai from the top of Doi Suthep is definitely the best, especially on a clear day. At the entrance there’s plenty of parking and food. After visiting the temple we had our first experience of Khao Soi – a traditional Northern Thai curry soup with chicken on the bone and crispy noodles. Bianca has since mastered the recipe! It’s delicious.
We had two outstanding experiences during our time in Chiang Mai. The first was our Downhill Mountain Biking tour with Trailhead. We’re glad we signed up to the easy rated tour! It was 30km of cycling through the mountains and local villages, followed by a choice. You can either choose to cycle along the road to the final destination (Bianca’s choice) or climb through the forest for an epic descent (Nathan’s choice). Nathan described it as the toughest 5km of his life and by far the most physical part of the trip. He was dripping with sweat when he finished. He got lots of GoPro footage as well. We would highly recommend Trailhead; their guides and transportation along with the cycling gear were first class and the tour included a delicious and massive lunch at a local restaurant.
The other experience was a Yoga Class. Bianca found an Aussie ex-pat who lived in Chiang Mai teaching Yoga. He had a new 3-hour course designed to introduce you to Yoga, the poses and move slowly so you feel more confident going forward. It was an intensive course and created a lot of sweat, but we learnt heaps. We’re both really excited to do some more Yoga when we get home.
Chiang Mai is a cool place with so much to offer and see. This is a must visit during your time in Thailand!
– Hire a scooter and cruise around. BUT beware, police will patrol and fine tourists who don’t have an International Drivers Licence. We talked our way out of it, but others weren’t so lucky.
– Sunday Night Market is incredible.
– Dash restaurant is a must visit for dinner.
– Stay in the Old City or very close to the Old City Walls as this is centre of Chiang Mai!