Thursday, 4 May 2017

Why You Should Visit Chiang Mai Thailand

Today on my blog is a guest post by Diane. Diane is the co-writer of The Luggage List and currently lives in the Philippines. Equally, in love with both tropical and mountain life, her travel plans are fueled by the obsession of finding the best possible views at sea or on mountaintops.

Thailand is a country that has captured my heart, for many reasons, time and again. I’ve returned to the Southeast Asian gem several times in the past for the culture and the food, but when I finally visited Chiang Mai it was a game changer.

Chiang Mai is unlike other Thai cities. In Bangkok, Thai culture is overshadowed by massive skyscrapers, notorious traffic, shopping malls, and busy train stations. Head over to the north, and everything changes – for the better.

If you haven’t visited Chiang Mai, let me tell you why you should.

The Art




In Chiang Mai, Thai culture is everywhere but it’s predominant mostly in the art. One trip here will tell you just how talented the Thais are – it seems almost spiritual to them to want to make everything more aesthetically appealing. From stunning graffiti to beautifully decorated barbershop signs, Chiang Mai is chockfull when it comes to art. It’s a feast – both for your belly and the eyes!

The Food


Northern Thai cuisine is exceptional. You’d be hard-pressed to find even a mediocre meal in Chiang Mai. Even famous American chef Andy Ricker relocated to Chiang Mai, and I’m pretty sure part of his reason for moving was to make sure he had easy access to the amazing food the region is known for. We followed Andy Ricker’s top food recommendations when dining out but even the street food is exceptional. There are several northern Thai specialities to try in Chiang Mai that you can’t find in Bangkok or other places. My most memorable meals were khao soi gai (curry soup with egg noodles and chicken), rotisserie chicken done the Thai way, sai ua (Chiang Mai sausages), and delicious pork leg from the world-famous cowgirl fronting the Chang Phueak gate.

The Markets





Chiang Mai is a shopper’s paradise. Unlike Bangkok, there are no big malls but street markets are where it’s at. We spent many afternoons and evenings exploring the maze of markets found around the city, although the Sunday night market at Walking Street was definitely the best. From dried herbs to art and outrageous Thai knick-knacks, the market was perfect for finding lots of unique finds at great prices. Don’t forget to bargain, though – Chiang Mai’s markets are the perfect opportunity to exercise your negotiation skills.

The Temples




The city is literally built around ancient temples. There are dozens of temples to discover as you walk or bike around the city. While Chiang Mai has several popular must-see temples, even the less popular religious buildings are always worth visiting because of the beautiful, intricate details. Thai spirituality is truly evident when visiting Chiang Mai, but the temples are open to all and also make for wonderful photo ops, so don’t forget to bring your camera.

The Elephants




The mountains and forests outside Chiang Mai are home to numerous elephants, but even in the city proper it seems that the local Thais venerate these majestic giants. Elephants are revered, and they are everywhere: from statues to paintings, there are several images of the gentle creatures that seem to remind us just how small we are, and that animals must always be respected. In fact, historically, white elephants are actually status symbols and were viewed as representations of wealth and power.

The Views




Chiang Mai is set against a backdrop of mountain ranges, which can be seen in certain streets especially in the Nimmanhaemin area. The views are magnificent, and visiting rooftop bars and restaurants is highly recommended. On our last day, we had sunset cocktails at Hotel Yayee, a spectacularly designed hotel with a breathtaking rooftop bar. (Tip: Order the Chiang Mai martini!)

The Nightlife

If you enjoy a good party, you can’t go wrong with Thailand’s legendary nightlife. Chiang Mai has several great bars, but what I love about it is the neighbourhood feel. You can walk or bike everywhere and there aren’t any many big buildings except in the city centre. The bars are laid back and friendly, and it’s so easy to meet new people. We visited several different establishments – from the touristy watering holes to those frequented only by the locals.

The Plumeria




I’ve never seen as many plumeria trees as I did in Chiang Mai. In my opinion, I think it’s the most beautiful tree that can adorn any city. Not only do they look gorgeous but they also smell great! There are white flowers as well as a dark fuschia, and they are equally truly a sight to see!



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16 comments

  1. I love hearing about the places that are more off the beaten track and ones that are special and unique. I would love to go to Chiang Mai. I bet the markets have so many beautiful things!

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  2. Thailand is such a beautiful place definitely on my travel bucket list. I would spend hours in the market just soaking up the culture.

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  3. I haven't been to Thailand. It's one of those places I've always wanted to go

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  4. Thailand is one of the countries on my bucket list. It just looks so pretty!

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  5. All of your photos made me smile. The elephant art is amazing .. the food looks delicious .. and the temples! I can't even imagine how long the took to build. What detail!

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    1. That elephant art is amazing isn't it, and what amazing temples?

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  6. So much lovely things to see and do! I love elephants! xxx

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  7. Thailand is on my list of places to visit. I really want to try and catch a fresh water stringray and explore the temples. Stephen

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    1. I hope you get the chance to go one day Stephen.

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  8. I would love to visit Thailand! It's definately on the bucket list

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  9. It sounds beautiful and so peaceful, exactly my kind of holiday. I would be in my element taking photos of everything!

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    1. It is such a colourful place, absolutely amazing.

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  10. Aww...I love Chiang Mai. This has reminded me how much I miss Kao Soi Gai.

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  11. i have been to thailand but never to chang mai, will definitely do next time!

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