11 THINGS TO DO IN CHIANG MAI – THAILAND

Why Chiang Mai, Thailand?

Things to Do in Chiang Mai Thailand

Visit to a country is incomplete if you can’t get a taste of its culture – you may get the world’s most amazing beaches in Phuket, Koh Lanta or Koh Samui, may indulge in crazy and famous full moon parties in Koh Phag Ngan, or get the taste of night life and luxury shopping in Bangkok, but to experience the real taste of Thailand, you must come to Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai is a city with rich cultural heritage yet equipped with necessary modern infrastructure. The city is booming with numerous Buddhist temples, Craft Shops, amazing cafes, restaurants, hotels, boutiques and night markets.

SETTING CLEAR EXPECTATIONS

The city may appear to be be quite ordinary when you arrive at first and it might take a day or two to be able to feel its vibes – the pace of life is slow out here and you got to give it time to please you.

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CHIANG MAI – THINGS TO DO LIST

It was difficult to identify the list of Best Things to do in Chiang Mai, Thailand as I had to drop many of my favorites.

THE WATS Or BUDDHIST TEMPLES

Wats in Chiang Mai

The city is a place to hundreds of Wats which have an impressive architectural style – for a layman mostly all Wats appear to be somewhat similar but a pair of artistic eyes can spend hours appreciating the architectural details and creativity in each Wat. Among the most prominent ones are Wat Phra Singh, Wat Sri Suphan & Wat Chedi Luang. The best way is to take a walk around in the old city area & if walking isn’t your cup of tea, hiring a motor bike on rent is the second best option.

Other notable one is Doi Suthep which is one of the highest rated tourist spots and is about 18-20 kms from the old town. If you are staying in Chiang Mai for more than 2-3 days I would definitely recommend you going in that direction. The best way to reach there would be either by a red truck (a shared mode of transportation) or a motorbike. Though it would be a long ride but if you like to go at your own pace, stopping at places in between, and enjoying the ride with a friend or the partner, this would be best bet.

2. THE SUNDAY NIGHT MARKET

Sunday Night Market Chiang Mai

If you visit Chiang Mai and miss the Sunday Market, either you didn’t do your homework well or you are poor at planning, unless of course you hate shopping, crafts or crowd! OK, I must admit that I love it so much that even if you hate shopping, I would highly recommend you going there.

The Sunday Night Market starts at around 5:00 PM near Tha Phae gate and is a heaven for craft lovers and foodies – you get to see really high quality handicrafts at extremely reasonable prices when compared to the rest of Thailand. The boys may not have as many options to shop but girls for sure wouldn’t want to go home – beautiful bags, wallets, décor items, local clothing, wooden products, and many more things.

Do not hesitate to stop by a massage stand (there are many ad hoc in the market) to give some relief to your tired feet, or sit in a food court to enjoy some local cuisines, as the market is spread quite a bit and you might not enjoy everything at one go!

3. THE SATURDAY NIGHT MARKET

The Saturday Night Market is a smaller version of Sunday Night Market and is relatively less crowded. The market opens at around 5 PM on Wua Lai Road. Of course, you don’t get to see all the amazing products as you find in the Sunday Market but if you can’t manage to stay in Chiang Mai over a Sunday this would be a good alternative.

Saturday Walking Street Night Market

4. NORTHERN THAI FOOD

There are wide variety of choices in Northern Thai food, however, I am fan of few things in particular.

Khao Soi is an amazing soup-like Thai dish with a combination of deep-fried crispy egg noodles and boiled egg noodles. The vegetarian version is also available at some of the restaurants – Taste from Heaven is one such place! The other places that I loved were Kanjana and LemonGrass.

Northern Thai Food Khao Soi Phad Thai and Red Curry

You may also want to Try Northern Style Green, Yellow or Red curry – you get a choice of vegetables or meat of your preference. I personally liked the Green Curry a lot!

You may also want to try Ice-cream (I tried one at the Central Festival) at a local creamery, Sticky Mango Rice at Fruitrday (a food chain) or on a small cart in front of Wat Phan On, or a Pad Thai at a Shop that comes up in front of Maya Shopping Mall every Friday.

Local Food In Chiang Mai on Nimman Road

These are just a few things to name but you have got a wide range of other options.

5. GET LOTS OF MASSAGES

Massages here are worth every penny and you shouldn’t miss a chance to get one whenever you are tired or have some spare time. Just for 5-10$ you can get amazing foot massages and if you don’t mind paying a little bit extra a whole new world of massages opens up for you. You go to any corner of the city and would find a number of massage parlours lined up.

You might feel like bargaining when you see others doing the same thing but when you see the hard work of those people, you feel they deserved every penny they asked for.

6. NIGHT MARKET

Okay, do not get confused with too many night markets. The other two night markets mentioned earlier happen on specific days and are the best-in-class craft markets in thailand. This night market, however, opens every night and provides you a good opportunity to buy local souvenirs and crafts if you cannot manage to visit Chiang mai over a weekend or if you have a lot of time to kill in the evenings. This is no where close to the other 2 markets but it certainly gives good glimpse of Chiang Mai night markets and crafts – everything here is a bit expensive when compared to other two markets.

7. PLOEN RUDEE INTERNATIONAL FOOD PARK

Places to Drink in Chiang Mai - Things to do in Chiang Mai

It’s situated on the night market road itself and is a place filled with amazing energy – live music, people dancing, amazing cuisines and drinks – what else would you want for a relaxing evening. Definitely worth a visit if you are in that area.

Good places to eat near night market

8. CHIC BOUTIQUES & CAFES ON NIMMAN ROAD

Cafes on Nimman Road - Living on Nimman Road

Old city is fun, but even heaven feels monotonous and boring after a while. Nimman Road is a good area to experience the other side of Chiang Mai – more modern and less touristy. The road boasts few of the best cafes of the city, some of the amazing night clubs and pubs, and some chic Boutiques.

The boutiques are owned by young designers who create beautiful products that have good blend of international fashion and local art. Even if you don’t need anything you would be tempted to get inside the shop and might end up buying one or the other products – be it handbags, wallets, paintings, backpacks, clothing or any other piece of art/craft.

Boutiques on Nimman Road

You have plenty of food choices too – Salad Concept, Fruitrday, Guu Fusion Roti and Tea, Smoothie Blues are some of my favourites on this road and offer you a diverse variety of food options. Starbucks and Wawee Coffee are also there in case you want to sip a cup of coffee and finish some of your work. Besides hip cafes, the street even has some of the finest restobars and pubs in the town – Warmup café and Beer Lab, Beer Republic are excellent choices.

9. SHOPPING MALLS

Central Festival and Maya are two of the best shopping malls in the city. Though Central Festival is a bit on the outer skirts of the city, you can reach there easily by paying approximately 120 Bhats to a Tuktuk or about 30-50 Bhats to a Read truck.

Shopping malls in Chiang Mai - Things to do in Chiang Mai

The mall is very big and has everything that you might want – be it apparels, food/grocery market, electronics, food courts, or even some cosmetic therapy clinics. Even the area outside of the mall is beautiful and is often occupied with some temporary food/craft shops – mostly the local crowd, majority of which is school/college going girls and boys.

Maya is another gem of Nimman Road – it is not as big as central festival but is a good place for peaceful shopping – you would find some local brands too here. Rimping Food Market is situated in the basement which can meet all your daily needs if you wish to cook by yourselves or want to buy some fruits or snacks. This is also an ideal place to buy all the Thai spices, herbs, pickles, sauces and ready to cook food packages that you might want to carry home with you!

Maya Shopping Mall Chiang Mai - shopping in chiang mai

10. GRAND CANYON

Once you are tired of the city life, you might want to see something different. You might want to take off that shirt, jump into the water and relax as if you were sitting on the beach or maybe your beach wears are dying to taste the water of Chiang Mai.

Grand Canyon Chiang Mai

Grand Canyon of Chiang Mai is the place you want to be heading towards. It is a water body about 24 kms from city and is quickly becoming popular among tourists but still not crowded yet. You can go there via a tuk-tuk – it would cost you approximately 400-500 Bhat including return fare. Make sure you agree with the driver on the wait time beforehand.

If you are an adventure enthusiast then you might want to go try cliff jumping here.

11. Baan Tawai Village

Unless you are a super huge fan of wooden craft, it may not be worth going here, but if you are, there are many reasons to visit this place. The entire village is a hub of wooden crafts and you can spot some beautiful and gigantic décor items from quite far while approaching the village. People often Buy the wooden items for home décor and get the local shipping companies to ship it to their place. There are plenty of courier guys around and even the shop from which you buy the product would be happy to help you.

Baan Tawai is approximately 8 kms from Grand Canyon – so you can plan on visiting both the places together.

Follow the blog, like my facebook page or Instagram page to get more regular updates about amazing travel destinations! My next 2 posts would be on Chiang Mai only – so be in touch if you wanna know more about Chiang Mai!

Experience Now – The Destination May Not be as Good as it is this Moment

A walk on the wavering suspension bridge, the blue water flowing beneath, white sand, and the out of this world landscape – however, my focus was only on reaching to the other side. I was hoping that I would find even more magical landscape on the other side. The other side, however, turned out to be disappointing with nothing much to see and do.

I thought, let me get back and enjoy the experience on the bridge only. The sun had suddenly become merciless, the wind had stopped and there were a lot of people waiting to cross the bridge now.

Phunakha Suspension Bridge

What’s beautiful now, may not be after a while
What’s not in focus now can be an invaluable treasure
So, why search for diamonds elsewhere
When they can be under your feet!

How to Reach Bhutan from India?

How to Reach Bhutan (Phuentsholing) from India (for Indian Travelers)?

Indians enjoy special privileges in Bhutan and it becomes evident from the ‘entry policy of Bhutan for Indians’ itself. We can enter into Bhutan even without a passport; just by showing the voter’s ID card. Continue reading

Coorg – Experience the Nature

Coorg which is also called the Scotland of India is a nature’s delight about 275 kms from the bustling city of Bangalore. It is one of the best destinations near Bangalore to take a break away from the city life and relax in one of the resorts surrounded either by coffee plantation or a rice field. The city has some amazing attractions, however, it is mainly the weather and scenic beauty which win over and make your stay in Coorg memorable.   Enroute to Coorg, just about 20 kms before you hit the city, there is a Buddhisht Monastery at Bylakuppe called Namdroling Monastery. It has an enchanting statue of Buddha – one of the best statues I have come across in India. The statue stands out from others because of the precisely portrayed emotions, which very well reflect the characteristics we associate with Buddha (like composure, peace, mindfulness). Besides this, its huge size and vibrant colors impart an amazing energy to the place. It’s something that I wouldn’t have liked to miss. You can spend a lot of time here, but if you are going on a short visit here, I think two hours should be a decent enough time for this place.

Rice Fields at Coorg

Rice Fields at Coorg

Namdroling Monastery at Bylakuppe

Namdroling Monastery at Bylakuppe

Namdroling Monastery at Bylakuppe

Namdroling Monastery at Bylakuppe

The Statue of Buddha

The Statue of Buddha

The Statue of Buddha

The Statue of Buddha

We immediately hurried to our next stop which was Dubare Elephant Safari, as we had heard that the white water rafting activity continues only up to 5:30 pm. We made it on time, but consider yourself lucky if you get good flow of water, because then only you get to do white water rafting. Otherwise you get to do only still water rafting which may be a little disappointing for an adventure enthusiast. You will find lots of elephants there and can even bathe them if you go around 6:00 am in the morning. There are some amazing waterfalls in and around Coorg offering breathtaking views. The two falls that I like are: Abbi Falls, Iruppu Falls. You will have to enjoy Abbi’s beauty from a designated spot only, however at Iruppu you can indulge in bathing in open and playing with water. The private waterfall at misty woods resort is also an excellent place, if you do not want to share space with thousands of other people.

Private Fall @ Misty Woods Resort

Private Fall @ Misty Woods Resort

Abbi Falls

Abbi Falls

Iruppu Falls

Iruppu Falls

The plan was to drive directly to Misty woods resort from Abbi falls; however we took a detour to Mandalpatti as many locals had given us positive reviews about it. Mandalpatti is a scenic spot at a hill top, the route to which though beautiful had very steep slopes and some stretches were really dangerous. We had to rent a Mahindra Jeep to take care of the dangerous road and leave our vehicle behind, at the hill base. The local drivers, however, seem to have mastered the art of driving on such root and we felt completely safe. We loved the journey and were hoping that destination would be even better. However, it was very unfortunate that it started raining all of a sudden and we found ourselves in misty clouds as we moved up. To our disappointment, nothing was visible in that misty weather. While returning we got lucky and the weather became sunny. It was a relief to see some beautiful sights from the top of the hill. So if you are adventure freak, this place is good for you. It might also be a good idea to track here. Just make sure you are going when the weather is at its best.

Road to Mandalpatti

Road to Mandalpatti

View from Mandalpatti

View from Mandalpatti

We also roamed around in the Medikeri, the main town of Coorg, and the market to see if we could buy some local products. I found the dry fruits really cheap there, for e.g., in Bangalore Pistachios are about Rs. 1000/kg, however in Coorg I could get it only at 500/kg. Since I was worried about the quality, I didn’t buy a lot of stuff. Once I tried, I realized that the quality was absolutely fantastic. If I will get another chance to go there, I will definitely buy lot of these things. The places around Medikeri are even more beautiful. For e.g., you will be stunned by the beautiful rice fields on the way to Virajpet. While returning from Virajpet to Bangalore, you can see the Irrupu water fall, which is on way to Mysore. It’s a beautiful sight, however expect it to be really crowded on weekends.

Iruppu Waterfall

Iruppu Waterfall

In essence, Coorg is a wonderful destination to enjoy the scenic beauty and rejuvenate yourself in the lap of the nature, away from the hectic city life. However, you need to be careful in the selection of hotel. The right hotel can make it a memorable stay and I will highly recommend Misty Woods Resort (no promotion intended). Travel Tips: You can reach there by train or bus from Bangalore. However, I would recommend that you take a vehicle from Bangalore itself as the places you would like to stay or should stay at are far away from town and isolated. You will really benefit if you had a vehicle with you. Food: Raintree is a good restaurant in Medikeri, if you are in or around the town or otherwise most of the restaurants at hotel or resorts will serve you deliciously cooked food of many kinds.