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Travel: a Quick Guide to Chiang mai

Travel Jan 14, 2013

I had such an amazing time travelling around Thailand over the Christmas and New Year holidays, it felt like ages since I have had a holiday which has the sole requirements of eating, wandering and relaxing – all thoughts of work left far far behind. I thought I would share with you a few pics and my to do list for this gorgeous city.

Stay:
At Tamarind Village (a colonial style renovated tamarind farm) in the old town with a super pretty pool, or at numerous guesthouses around the old town for more budget friendly options.
 Eat: 
– Khao Soi at a million different places in Chiang Mai – the local dish of lime and coconut noodle soup served with chicken leg, sure to have you addicted by the time you leave.
 – At the food stalls that set up around the temples (Wats) along the Sunday walking street (aka Sunday night market). We had the most delicious minced pork salad and Khao Soi at these markets and the street food was the best we witnessed out of our whole time in Thailand. Dive in an enjoy what’s there because you won’t find better.
– Don’t leave Chiang Mai without having a Banana roti, you’ll find street vendors all over the city.
– High tea at The Chedi, for those moments when you’re all thai fooded out and need a bit (or a lot) of sweetness in your life.
– The House for higher end Thai in a relaxed veranda setting.
Drink: 
– Under the trees at Mix off Nimman Road.
– By the River (with raucous thai cover bands) at The Riverside.
Shop: 
– At the Night Bazaar (don’t get it confused with the Sunday Night Market aka Walking Street), a huge market with a crazy mix of tourist tat and household items, but you can find some gems if you look deep.
– At the Saturday Walking Street or Sunday Night Market, similar to the Night Bazaar but slightly better quality with decent arts and handi crafts.
– Ginger for chic clothes and accessories.
– All around the different Sois along Nimman Road where you’ll find cute clothes and jewelry boutiques.
Do: 
 – Hire a bicycle from one of the many guesthouses around the centre of town ( approx. 50B per day) and tour all the old town’s temples in a morning.
– Have an afternoon of relaxation at Fah Lanna Spa, not an absolute bargain basement massage joint (of which you will find many around town) but well worth it for the gorgeous compound and super relaxing rooms.
– Take a red truck up to Doi Sothep, the ancient temple on the hill overlooking the city. Early in the day is best to avoid the crowds and see the monks go about morning prayer, check out the waterfalls in the National Park on your way down.
– Take a river cruise along the Mai Ping River.
– Spend half a day visiting one of the many Elephant Centres around the region.
– Take a course in Northern Thai cooking (Asia Scenic comes highly recommended but I didn’t get time).
– Visit the evening flower markets along the river, North East of the city walls.
– Visit the Hmong Hill Tribes, although pick your visit carefully as some of them came be a little to touristy.
If you’re thinking of visiting, I would recommend December when the weather is less sweltering, and make sure you time it with the Sunday Night Market. And I would also love to hear if you have any other tips for this beautiful city, 4 days wasn’t much time in which to learn all about it. A huge thanks to my friend Emma who gave me loads of amazing tips to Chiang Mai before I went and made my travels super easy.
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