I hope that you enjoyed the first part of my Thailand itinerary and are ready for even more adventure from our trip! Today I will be sharing about the next city we visited which was Chiang Mai. I was originally going to share this in two blogs, but after writing it all out, three felt better as Phuket and Phi Phi are all water activities.
I wanted to clarify that, throughout the blog when I mention that we flew between cities, we used Air Asia for all our flights and had no issue with them. I would compare them to a Spirit Airlines in America, except a little more upscale.
- This was where my trip really started to take a turn for the best! We took an early flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and stayed at a nearby hotel called Villa de Chiang Mai. It was a villa-home style and very close to the airport and other tourist areas. We very much went the economical route on this hotel, and it was a spacious, clean room so we were happy.
- On our first day we had a scary adventure, and went to the Wat Phra That Doi Kham temple which is at the top of this mountain. It is gorgeous, but on top of this giant mountain where there was no transportation unless you had a car take you there or you were with a tour. Knowing that, we offered the Uber extra money to wait for us and told him to give us a few minutes and we would be out. He left us stranded! We didn’t really have phone service and it was getting dark, so I started to panic. Despite the fact there were many people there, they were either local or in a tour bus that wouldn’t accept us in their car. Somehow we ended up getting lucky and an Uber decided to pick us up before it got dark. Lesson learned – go with a tour group. This temple was beautiful though, and the different monuments and architecture are impressive.
- Once back at our hotel, we went to walk the night bazaar which is overwhelmingly HUGE! It’s blocks and blocks long. We ended up at the bazaar two nights because there was so much to see. There are street vendors, food, performances and it is such a neat way to experience the Thai culture. This is also the best place to buy souvenirs, so make sure to get them all here.
- The next day we took a tour to Chiang Rai. This was an all day tour (7:30am – 8:30pm) with 4 stops. Our first stop was at a hot spring. The hot springs were impressive, as I had never seen boiling natural water before. The odd part though was that it was in the middle of a shopping bazaar – I guess that is a good way to make money LOL. The water was SO hot that they were boiling eggs in it within a couple minutes. The next stop was the White Temple, which is the most famous in Chiang Rai. It was by far the most impressive temple we saw the entire trip. The amount of immaculate detail that was put into it, both inside and outside was so impressive. If you have a day to visit the temple, I would definitely recommend it. The next stop was the Golden Triangle which is the river where Myanmar, Thailand and Laos meet. This was more of a cool thing to see, but not a must-see in my book since we didn’t enter either of the countries, rather took a boat trip and just got off at the border of Laos at the little shops. Our final stop was at the Long Neck Karen Village. This is an absolute must-see! People in this village still live in huts and the women, per their decision (we were told) still choose to expand their necks with rings. The neck extension practice started back when women were the ones out hunting for their families. Their neck extension was intended to protect their necks from vicious animals and to look taller and more intimidating.
- The next day we booked a rafting and elephant tour with Siam River Adventure. This was the most EPIC day of the trip. A van picks you up and takes you to the forest – the furthest place in the forest that I was able to see. You are in a very rural area whereas the other tours you see along the way have many people at them and it is more populated. The tour guide spoke limited English so it was intimidating sometimes trying to communicate with a language barrier and have no idea where you are going. However, when we arrived at the elephant camp, it was really nice and surreal to get intimate with the elephants. It took me some time to relax and realize what was going on – I was next to, and playing with a gigantic animal that I am only used to seeing at a zoo several feet away. We got to feed them, bathe them, and walk through the forest wit them. It was pure magic! We had lunch and then went rafting. Our raft was a 3 person raft which had my husband and I and our guide. He controlled the raft for us as we went through the rough spots in the water. It was amazing to be in a raft through the jungle, passing elephants- these gentle giants. It was also very safe, as there were many other guides along the tour.
- That night we went to dinner at a fancy restaurant called David’s Kitchen. I strongly recommend this place, as it was recommended to us. However, I didn’t know it was fine dining and you needed a reservation. Make sure you reserve in advance and have a nice outfit to wear. It is worth it! We got lucky and the owner was there, gave us a table and accepted us in flip flops (NOT the appropriate attire). He was generous and all of the dishes were AMAZING! Our favorites were the spicy fish apple salad and tuna + mango salad.
- Our final day we decided to sleep in and head over to the airport. This airport is BUSY! Make sure you give yourself enough time to get to it and through the many confusing lines to board your plane on time. Also, if you choose to fly Air Asia, check in 24 hours in advance to sit with your partner/group for free.
Chiang Mai is a must-see and do in Thailand! I highly recommend it and it is very affordable.
I will be releasing the third and final part of this series on Thursday.