Travel Tuesday; Chiang Mai

Since we’ve been living outside of Holland, we’ve been traveling a lot. Which is obviously one of the main advantages of living abroad to be seeing more of the world. Whenever we go to a new place, I will see whether we know anyone who lives there, or has recently been there, so that we can get some insight tips of the city. Once returning back home, I always keep a list of where we’ve been and what we’ve been up to. And I would love to share these experiences with all of you!

In the beginning of this year, I visited Chiang Mai with one of my best friends Bibian. Chiang Mai is located 700km north of Bangkok, among the highest mountains in the country. Chiang Mai means “new city” and was so-named because it was the new capital, founded in 1296, succeeding Chiang Rai.
It has become an increasingly modern city and has been attracting over 5 million visitors each year. It’s one of two tourist destinations in Thailand on TripAdvisor’s list of “25 Best Destinations in the World” on place 24. This is probably one of the reasons why Bibian suggested we should go and see Chiang Mai. And I’m very happy that she did; what a wonderful city!

01. Hotel Qi 68We stayed at the Qi 68 guesthouse (http://www.qi68hotel.com), west of the old city. This small boutique guesthouse is located on a quiet street in Chiang Mai, but conveniently situated between the old city and the bar/restaurant area {Nimmanhaemin Road}. The hotel has a contemporary design with a simple concept. The rooms are basic (room with ensuite bathroom), but have everything you need, with loads of space, a great rain shower and a funky design. We stayed in a superior double room for THB1850 (around US$56) including breakfast. The kitchen is set up in the lobby, which is a loft space with a open concept, which can be used throughout your stay for self-catering. We loved the concept of the hotel and I’m sure to visit again on a next trip to Chiang Mai.

When we planned to go to Chiang Mai, we made sure to be there for a Sunday night, as everyone is always raving about their Sunday Walking Street. We arrived on Sunday afternoon and headed out to the Old City to take a look at this market. My oh my this is one of the biggest market I have seen in my life. You can do everything and anything here – from having a massage to buying food, cloths, souvenirs and many more. We were amazed at everything we saw, and off course came home with some great gifts!

For the rest of our visit we did not have anything planned, but we knew we wanted to go around the city on a bicycle tour {must be a Dutch thing!}. So the next day we walked around the city and booked a bicycle tour with Spice Roads Cycle Tour (http://www.spiceroads.com). But before it was time to ride around town on a bicycle, we wanted to go and eat sushi.
03. Ai Sushi

We heard that Chiang Mai is known for high quality Japanese food and Bibian had found the best place for us to try it out: Ai Sushi. This sushi restaurant was situated a short walk from our hotel on Huay Kaew Road, and we had passed by a couple of times – it was always crowded with loads of people enjoying sushi. So we had to try it – and we were very happy we did! We loved our dinner at Ai Sushi! So if you’re in town and craving for some yummy sushi, make sure to visit them.

04. Spice RoadsThe next day we set out on our half-day tour to explore the city. Besides driving through the city, you also get taken outside of town where you’ll visit some great sites, such as several Wat’s but also a hospital area which was set up for people with lepra. It was very nice to see the city and surrounding area from the bike. However I wish we would have stayed a little bit more in the old city so that we got to see more of it’s highlights and a better feel of the city. Despite that, the tour guide was very knowledgeable, which made the trip worthwhile. A great recommendation if you want to see Chiang Mai in an active way.

Quick reviews: 

  • 05. North GateNorth Gate Jazz Co-op: if you like live music this is the place to be. It’s a small café with many outdoor seating’s as there just is not enough space inside. We visited on a Tuesday night which is open to anyone who wants to join in the jam sessions. Drinks are cheap, but try to avoid the cocktails…

 

  • Nimmanhaemin Road: Go visit this road in the evening to find some great bars and restaurants. Most of them with huge terraces that create a lively and busy area at night.

06. Street food

 

  • Evening food markets: owh how we spoiled ourselves on the night markets with amazing local street food. We loved the food street close to the Chang Phueak Gate on Manee Nopparat Road.

 

07. Royal gardens

  • Royal Park Rajapruek: this is a huge flower park outside the city – about a 30min drive. We wanted to visit the city to relax and maybe do a picnic; this is not the place to go…
    The park has numerous differently themed or sponsored gardens, with in the middle a temple built especially to honour the king. I have to say the temple is beautiful, and the park is well set-up, but the whole park has  a very cold feeling as if you’re not really supposed to be walking around. This might be due to the sponsored gardens, or because you can’t really walk around the park easily and a big bus is driving around the entire time to drop off people to the next garden.
    When you’re there do take the bus that drives around, as it’s so incredible huge that you will not be able to see the entire park without it… Owh and there are only a limited amount of taxis that will bring you back to town. So try to arrange return transport in advance.

 

  • Walking tour in the old city: do a walking tour in the old city on your first day in Chiang Mai. It’s a nice and easy walk and you will immediately have a great feel of the city.  Try to find the map from Nancy Chandler {http://www.nancychandler.net/} which gives you lots of suggestions and highlights.

Hope you enjoyed these tips and I look forward to sharing some more information next Tuesday! Do let me know if you have any additional tips for Chiang Mai. I would love to try them out during my next visit!

2 thoughts on “Travel Tuesday; Chiang Mai

  1. Pingback: Travel Tuesday – Pai | Frei's days

  2. Reblogged this on Frei's days and commented:

    Tomorrow we’ll be off to Chiang Mai for a couple of days. To prepare myself I read my blog to see what we can go and do while we’re there. We’ll definitely be visiting the North Gate Jazz Co-opt and we’ll go to the Sunday Market.

    Looking forward seeing what has changed over these past two years!

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