Finally the last step in Thailand: Chiang Mai. Many people told me amazing things about this city so I decided to spend there 10 days after Phuket. To be honest I’m not sure it was the best choice. I’m going to come back to the cold European winter so it would had been better to finish in warm beach or island. Instead Chiang Mai is a bit cold cold.
The old city is contained in a square delimited by a narrow river and some old ruin wall. It’s still possible to see the gates to access into the town. It’s fascinating to think how it was few centuries ago. Out of the walls Chiang Mai is a typical Thai city: sometimes old and poor areas, sometimes new and rich.
Chiang Mai is famous for its temples and now I understand why. Especially inside the old city there are countless wonderful temples. I suggest to visit “Wat Chedi Luang Worawihan” in the old city and “Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep” on the hill. The last one offers an outstanding view over the city. To arrive there you have to ride your scooter or take a tuk tuk for about 20 minutes and climb around 300 steps but it is worth it.
The temperature is colder than south of Thailand. During the day the sun warms you and you can walk with a t-shirt and short trousers but during the night many times you have to wear a jumper and long trousers. And don’t forget a jacket if you ride to the top of the hill! The first time I try to reach the hill temple I had to come back because it was too cold, even at 1pm.
I had the impression that people smiles less than in the south. The first hours were terrible: I went to rent a motorbike and look for a Muay Thai gym. Everybody was almost kicking me out the shops when I didn’t agree with the prices or the service. Very rude. At the same time I met new fun people, especially at the food class I participated. I learnt to cook Pad Thai (noodles), Tom Sum (soup) and Massaman Chicken Curry. Yummy!
The city seems cleaner than Phuket, even the night markets and the roads.
Prices and shopping
If you want to buy good food you should try the restaurants in the narrow roads around the walking street, in front of the Phae Gate (i.e. Kanjana or Cooking Love). Or the night food market in the south side road of the old city square.
If you want to buy souvenirs, I suggest you to go the night bazaar in the east of the city. You can find whatever you want.
If you enjoy to ride a motorbike, you should rent a big one. I spent my last day going around through wonderful roads. I visited the Buatong Waterfall and the Wat Tham Chiang Dao (the ride was around 200 kms).
If you want to spend a day out, you could visit also Chiang Rai and Pai.
I haven’t been out often during the night but I had the impression that the crazy nightlife is only in the south of Thailand. Not many places to have a drink. But for sure you can enjoy the Sunday night market in the walking street in front of the Phae Gate. You can find whatever you want.