Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Chiang Mai November 2012

Getting there

3 options, bus, train and plane. Bus and Train are cheap, but take forever! If you're on a relatively short trip then flying has to the way to go.

Air Asia seems to be the main provider, although there are others. Prices are changing all of the time but we managed to get a return trip for 3500 BHT each but I'm sure you could get it cheaper.

Try and visit Chiang Mai during Loy Krathong - amazing lit up  displays everywhere

Getting around

The old walled city of Chiang Mai is only 1 square mile across so it's really easy to get around. There's no public bus service and it can be hard to find a meter taxi, or a meter taxi that will turn his meter on so we favoured Red Songathaew taxis and Tuk Tuk. Both are reasonably cheap, just negotiate the price for where you want to go before you get in.

The outer wall of Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Sights & Activities

Wat Prathat Doi Suthep

Amazing golden template in the sunlight
This is one of the things you have to do in Chiang Mai, and it's always in the top ten of experiences there. Doi Suthep is one of the tallest peaks around Chiang Mai, you get amazing views from the top, and to cap it all off there is a wonderful golden temple at the top.

You have the choice of either climbing a staircase up the mountain to the temple or taking a funicular railway.

View from Doi Suthe

Chiang Mai Zoo

A must see attraction for anyone visiting Bangkok, we really enjoyed our day here. It's a huge site so dedicate a whole day, particularly if you go to the aquarium as well.

We particularly liked seeing Elephants and Pandas. Also, we were amazed that 7 Eleven even had branches inside the zoo! They are literally everywhere in Thailand.

Mother and baby elephant

Zoo 7 Eleven

Around the city, Mountains and Trails

In addition to spending time in the city we also took a couple of tours that took in the broader countryside.

One place we visited which we thought was really impressive was the White Temple or Wat Rong Khun about an hour outside of Chiang Mai.

Some people say that the temple is too touristy, which I have to agree with but it's certainly impressive architecturally and worth a stop if you're passing through the area - wear sunglasses though, it's so bright!

Wat Rong Khun

Golden Triangle

One of the most popular tours from Chiang Mai is called the Golden Triangle Tour ( Nearly every tour place was pushing this "trip of a lifetime" up from Chiang Mai to the place where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet.

The views along the way were nice but this trip was a bit over the top for us. You don't get much time at any of the stops on the way, you're in a convoy with every other bus from Chiang Mai, and it was quite expensive. After a lot of haggling we paid 1,000 BHT each.

We don't regret doing it, but we think next time we'll go up and actually stay in Chiang Rai overnight and see the sights at our own pace. Then again if you're on a strict schedule and really want to stand in the Golden Triangle - go for it!

Standing at the Golden Triangle

The Karen "Village" is more like a tourist market - not very authentic but very friendly people 
Beautiful views all around