Reno has nothing on Chiang Mai.
This northern city is the second largest in Thailand but still has that small town charm. After Bangkok it’s my favorite place to visit in Thailand. Since it’s located in a mountainous area there’s no beaches here like Phuket, but it has so much more to offer. It’s one of the most culturally significant areas in the country with northern influenced foods (not easily found in Bangkok), thriving arts and handicraft scene, less congested than the capital, friendly locals, (usually) better weather than Bangkok…or as a traveling companion once said,”I can breathe here”. As a bonus, traveling here is more affordable than the already economical capital city. TripAdvisor lists this city as the top 25 tourist destinations in the world. So sit back and enjoy the photos. You’ll pick up more travel tips in the captions if you click on the photos to enlarge.
As a side note, I noticed that this city is (at the time of this trip) inundated with tourists from China whereas in the past there were more European and Japanese tourists. Here’s an interesting article related to this observation.
Part 3 of 4 of my Thailand trip. Click on Bangkok or Ayutthaya if you missed the previous parts. Coming next…Thai food!
My lodging at the Vieng Mantra boutique hotel. The entrance located in an alley is nondescript…
But the courtyard inside is absolutely beautiful. Travel tip: I prefer staying close to the older part of the city near Thapae Gate. It’s centrally located and walkable to many neighborhoods.
This is what you get for cheap. A beautiful room with a view of a wall. Actually the view of the courtyard is to the side.
This is the most commonly used “taxi” in town. Basically a pickup truck with two bench seats. The driver will also pick up passengers going a similar route. Traveling within the city proper should only cost a flat rate of 60 cents per local. Tourists will be charged at least double.
On my way up to Doi Suthep, a sacred temple located on the outskits of town. Again, tourists are charged a fee, locals aren’t. This is a common theme throughout Thailand where tourists are charged extra. About 50% of the time I sneak in as a local. Shhhh…don’t tell anyone.
As in many temples, stray dogs greet me at the entrance of the temple. Since temples do not harm animals, it becomes the defacto shelter for unwanted animals. These guys are actually pretty mellow.
My wife and I get ready to climb the 309 steps to reach the temple entrance. It’s free to climb the steps. Entrée fee is charged at the top of the steps. Notice we are all smiles prior to the climb. Less so afterwards.
A close up of the Naga or serpants at the head of the stairs. Beautiful!
The most holy area of the temple grounds is this chedi.
Buddhist worshippers. Chiang Mai has over 300 temples. You can easily get “templed out” if you try to visit too many of them.
Here a monk gives his blessings.
Beautiful details of the temple roof.
Cute kid monks persuade people to give donations.
My wife shows the proper method of doing the “wai”. As in many temples it’s advisable to dress appropriately. That means no shorts, or sleeveless tops. You probably want to leave your best wingtips or Air Jordan sneakers at home. You’ll have to take them off before entering temples and who knows if it’ll be waiting when you’re ready to leave. As for clothing, many of the larger temples offer appropriate clothing to use for a small price.
Bells ring the temple grounds. I believe it’s auspicious if one rings all the bells. Correct me if I’m wrong.
We take a break at Celadon Tea House located in one of my favorite antique buildings in town.
The gardens in the back of the tea house is lush and gorgeous.
This three wheeled contraption is called a Tuk tuk from the sound it makes
I decided to look for another tuk tuk…
Chiang Mai is known as a handicraft shopper’s paradise.
Can you believe they actually charge for electricity at a cafe? This is 30 cents….per hr., per plug, per person??
Uh……. no comment.