Chiang Mai is a decent sized city that still has traffic struggles during rush hour, but not even close to what Bangkok was like. Chiang Mai sits in the mountains in northern Thailand and has some of the best food I had while in Thailand. We stayed 4 nights here.
Chiang Mai Day One:
We checked in at our hostel, Glur, around 2:30 pm. The taxi ride was under 20 minutes from the airport which was fabulous. We had a private room in this hostel/hotel and it was one of the nicest ones we had. Housekeepers came daily to replace towels. There was a pool and a coffee shop on the grounds which was nice.
Conveniently next door was one of our favorite restaurants of the trip – Sumrub Gubkao! It didn’t even look like anything special, but we ate like queens for about $5 each.
After recovering from our food coma, we wandered across the Iron Bridge to the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. This is where I bought ALL of my gifts to take home. You could wander around this market for hours. We treated ourselves to some gelato and a beer before the Chiang Mai Cabaret Show.
The Chiang Mai Cabaret Show, also known as the Lady Boy Show, was intensely good. All of the performances were impressive and the dancers were very skilled. It was very entertaining when they made a group of Americans get on stage and dance for a birthday celebration.
Chiang Mai Day Two:
My travel-mate, Kelsey, was SO stoked for this day. We hung out with Elephants.
We did our research and found that the Elephant Nature Park has been active in rescuing captured elephants and providing them with a safe and supportive environment to heal. We were picked up at 8 am from our hostel. We prepared food for the elephants, walked trails in the jungle with them, pet them, bathed them and had a mud fight with them. It was such a good time. It was sad to hear about how prevalent the mistreatment of elephants is in Thailand. We were happy to contribute to an organization that is also educating the public on these issues.
Once we peeled the layers of mud and bananas off of us, we again crossed over the bridge. We got dinner at the River Market just over the bridge on the water. The atmosphere was better than the food, but it did the job (We were spoiled from Sumrub Gubkao). We then hung out at the Bus Bar across the street where live music played and we drank beers by the water (BRING BUG SPRAY).
Chiang Mai Day Three:
Prepare your stomach for a spiritual experience. We took a vegan/vegetarian cooking class in Chiang Mai…and oh my goodness, was it ever good. May Kaidee is so kind, informative and passionate about healthy eating and good flavors. We learned to make 10 recipes. It was absurd, and I truly thought my stomach was going to burst.
After the food coma subsided, we took a grab taxi back to Perception Massage. This Thai massage establishment employs people that are blind. They train them and give them consistent work. It was pretty rad. Thai massages are kind of painful, but maybe that’s because I don’t take care of my body very well. Oops.
After the massage we immediately rushed over to Hidden House for a yoga session. There were 5 other people and it was in the upstairs of house. It felt very jungle-like and was different than other yoga I’ve done. Our instructor was Australian. My body was sore for 3 days. UGH.
We cleaned up and went to Riverside Bar. It was busy and had a live band! They had imported beer that we could actually get excited about too! We got a little cocky and ordered more raw fruits and vegetables than we had before. (We had been very careful up until this point). We learned that was a mistake the next day.
Chiang Mai Day Four:
Our alarm went off at 5 am. Yippee! I convinced Kelsey to wake up for a sunrise at the temple Wat Phrathat on Doi Suthep mountain. This consisted of a grab taxi up a windy mountain road where Kelsey thought she was going to lose the contents of her stomach and then a series of many steps up to the temple.
It was breathtaking. The sky was painted a mix of pastels; the sound of monks’ prayers echoing off the walls. The gold details on the temple are radiant as the sun rises enough to touch them. We somehow managed to have an entire terrace to ourselves for 20 minutes that was overlooking the mountains and Chiang Mai.
This temple is normally SO crowded. Bus loads of people get dropped off continuously throughout the day. Going at sunrise was a very good decision.
Then the digestive distress began. We both didn’t feel 100% at the temple, but when we got back to the hostel, we were both feeling pretty rough. Nothing extreme and no symptoms other than nausea, but it almost made us cancel our plans to go to Pai. (3.5 hour bus ride up windy mountain roads)
We loaded up on Pepto Bismol and Dramamine and booked our ticket. And we are so glad we did. Read about Pai here.
Chiang Mai Day 5:
We stayed in Pai for 2 nights and then came back to Chiang Mai for one more night before flying to Phuket. We took one of the vans before noon and got back to Chiang Mai where we had enough time to eat at our favorite restaurant again. Our second Thai massage was at Getthawha Massage. I’ve never been stretched so good in my life. One of my top 10 most painful experiences though. Probably worth it. Kelsey was in the same room as me and looked over to see my Thai masseuse standing on my calves, pulling my arms back into a boat pose of some sort.
We then managed to pull ourselves together and look cute for a night. We had met some fellow Michiganders in Pai and they happened to take the same van back to Chiang Mai as us. We decided to all go out and experience Pai nightlife.
Oasis Rooftop Garden Bar: We may have arrived too early. It was dead, but a cool atmosphere. Don’t try Thailand IPAs. EW.
Zoe In Yellow: This is a famous night club surrounded by other nightclubs that are just as wild. Just as we were getting warmed up, they all shut down at midnight. One of the guys from Michigan found a club nearby that was still open.
Spicy: One of the few clubs still open past midnight. It got CROWDED. We were only there for a little bit because we are old ladies, but it was a good time!
We wandered to BB Burger where we had chicken nuggets and fries (1st time I burned the roof of my mouth on this trip), and then took our first Tuk Tuk home.
Chiang Mai – Morning before leaving for Phuket
We grabbed breakfast at Blue Diamond in Chiang Mai and it was lovely. They have their own kombucha and it’s a relaxing atmosphere. Definitely recommend it!
Now off to Phuket!