|The photos in this post are SOOC (straight out of camera) and haven't been edited - the colors are just that vibrant!|
Happy Thursday everyone! Having Monday off work this week has definitely thrown me for a loop, but tomorrow is Friday so I am not complaining! Today, I'm sharing photos from our second city that we visited on our trip to Thailand last month - Chiang Mai!
After starting our trip in Bangkok, coming to Chiang Mai was definitely a change of pace. We flew from Bangkok to Chiang Mai on NokAir (a smaller regional airline that does a lot of short and relatively inexpensive flights within Asia) and the flight was only about an hour. Chiang Mai is in northern Thailand (fairly close to Myanmar) and even though it is one of Thailand's larger cities, it's much smaller than Bangkok and has a very different feel. Bankok is huge and chaotic, whereas Chiang Mai is much more low-key and laid back. It's definitely a very popular destination with tourists/backpackers, and there were certain times we'd be walking around and I swear we'd primarily see non-Asians (aka Australians, Americans, and Europeans) walking around, which was a little strange!
We stayed at the CM Night Botique Hotel, which was right near the heart of Chiang Mai's Night Bazaar (more on that in a minute). The hotel itself was fairly small and not super modern, but overall, it was cute and worked out well for the time we spent in Chiang Mai. It was really great staying so close to the Night Market; that way we could just end our day there and didn't have to worry about walking too far back to our hotel at the end of the night. However, Chiang Mai as a city is very easy to navigate; there is not a ton of traffic, plus tuk tuks (see this post if you don't know what I'm referring to!) are everywhere and they're a really cheap (as in it would cost under 100 Thai Baht or $3 to go anywhere in the city!) so I feel like the area of town you stay in isn't that big of a deal since getting around is so easy. Here are a few more pics of our hotel though...
Chiang Mai has a lot of elephant camps, so there were some elephant details in our room :)
The hotel breakfast included both Eastern and Western items :)
Getting around by motorcycle/motor scooter is really popular!
There were tons of dogs throughout Thailand and they'd be wearing these little fleece shirts - we figured it was to tell people they were safe/non aggressive, but I'm not 100% sure. It was really sad though because most of them did not look well cared for :(
Chiang Mai is pretty walkable and so we were able to see a lot of it on foot...
There were tons of temples everywhere, it was really incredible!
This coffee van in front of a temple reminded us of something you'd see in Portland :)
We actually arrived in Chiang Mai on Christmas Eve so it was fun to see some decorations!
I thought the name of this restaurant was funny - note the Santa hats on the waiters :)
This is where we ate lunch one of the days - no idea what the English name is though!
A lot of the restaurants were essentially open outdoor pavillion structures which I thought was cool.
Delicious pork ball soup - just one of the many noodle dishes we ate over there :)
Honestly, we passed by so many temples it was hard to keep them straight!
However, they were all really ornate and beautiful!
One of Chiang Mai's more famous temples is Wat Chedi Luang in the Old City - really impressive!
Wat Chedi Luang had fairly extensive grounds, and so it was interesting to walk around
If you haven't figured it out by now, Thailand has tons of Buddhas!
Another temple near Wat Chedi Luang
There were so many flowers in bloom all over the place, it was gorgeous!
Cam chilling with the homeless dogs - ha :)
Buddhist monks seem to be very respected in Thai society (they even have their own separate line at airport security!) and we saw them all over Thailand, but particularly saw a lot in Chiang Mai.
Some Thai wisdom :)
They actually offer a thing called "Monk Chat" outside one of the temples...
It's really a great arrangement because it allows tourists to ask questions, and it also gives the monks an opportunity to practice their English skills.
We actually got to sit and talk with a couple of younger monks who are currently studying at the university at one of the temples there in Chiang Mai. Their English was a little limited so we weren't able to ask as many questions as I would have liked, but I got to ask things like are we allowed to take photos of monks (obviously yes haha) and are they allowed to use the computer (also yes). It was a really interesting experience and I'm glad we took time to speak with them!
Right near where the Monk Chat took place, there was a temple (I can't remember the name!) that had the most beautiful interior with all these colorful ribbons - it was really incredible!
Generally, the food in Chiang Mai was good; Northern Thai cuisine seemed to include a lot of the staples we saw in Bangkok, but featured a lot of curry as well!
We ate here for dinner one night and it was delish!
My Pad Thai
Cam's Green Curry
It was really hard to resist petting the dogs - ha!
The nice thing about our hotel room was that it had an awesome view of the Night Market! During the day this area was totally empty, but at night it really came alive! I loved walking around the market :)
Christmas Eve in Thailand! :)
Something that seemed pretty common throughout Thailand were these fish spas, where you put your feet in a tank full of tiny fish and they eat the dead skin off of them - I was both grossed out and intrigued, ha! However, after a little Googling and seeing a few articles about how it's possible (albeit very very unlikely) that you can get Hep C and other diseases from these thing, I decided to hold off :)
So I didn't get to have fish eat the skin off my feet, but I did find this weird rolled ice cream treat and decided that was something I needed to try :)
Another night we ate dinner here at the recommendation of our tuk tuk driver...
What to order, that is the question...
...the menu wasn't much help - ha!
Our food was good, but I was definitely a little tired of curry and rice by the end of the trip :)
Cam eating his mango and sticky rice...
...and I got cookies and cream ice cream :) Not exactly cultural, but oh well!
Christmas Day night, we were walking around Chiang Mai and stopped to check out this free show...
It was actually super entertaining and we ended up staying to watch! Random but fun :)
I had to sneakily take a picture of this...and yes, there are three dogs in there!
The best part was they had a choir singing Christmas carols; the arrangements of the songs were all really strange but the group was adorable so it was the perfect way to end our Thai Christmas :)
While in Chiang Mai, we also checked out Ristr8to Coffee Roasters!
Granted we do have tons of great coffee shops in Portland (this place actually reminded us a lot of home!) but Ristr8to is famous for it's latte art, so that's why I wanted to try it. (I actually saw a picture from this place on Instagram posted by Nom Nom Paleo and that's how I originally heard about it!)
On their menu, they talk a lot about the different varieties of coffee and also let you know how good a particular drink is for doing latte art :)
Cam got a mocha, which was really good!
I got a flat white and it was excellent! They were super super busy when we were there so I think that if you went at an off time they could probably do an even more impressive design.
On our final day in Chiang Mai, we spent some time walking around closer to Chiang Mai University, which is also close to the mountain, Doi Suthep, and it was a pretty area!
Clearly it was a hot day...slash Cam feels like he can be European when we travel haha.
Confident enough to rock the man-pris :)
From this area, there are vehicles you can take to go up the mountain and see the temple...I wish I would have taken a picture of these things, but basically they are red pickup trucks where they just stuff like 10 people in the back and that's how you go up the mountain - it was wild!
While waiting for our truck, we got a little snack....some fried eggs...in a bag...on the street :)
Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep is about a 10 miles outside of Chiang Mai and up in the mountains, but it was absolutely awesome and I'd highly recommend making time for it if you're visiting!
You have to walk up a lot of steps to get to the temple!
Finally made it to the top!
As with many of the larger temples in Thailand, you do have to pay a minimal entry fee. Also, I thought it was really funny that all the ticket signs said "Foreigners" on them, it just sounds kind of harsh, ha!
Another gorgeous blue sky day!
The grounds at this temple were incredibly grand and filled with gold!
I had to borrow a long skirt to cover up my legs :)
An Emerald Buddha
Apparently, legend has it that an elephant carried part a relic of Buddha up the mountain and then died on top of the mountain...so that's why they decided to build the temple here.
The temple grounds were a great vantage point to see Chiang Mai's beautiful mountainous landscape!
View of Chiang Mai down below
View of Chiang Mai down below
The king's face is all over stuff in Thailand!
It was so sunny - I am definitely missing the weather!
I am obsessed with peacocks so finding this door made me happy :)
So there were quite a few dogs outside the temple and they would lay in the sun (wearing sweaters!) and someone would move this box to be next to them...if the dog moved, someone came and moved the box! It was crazy and I really wanted to pet the dogs (despite all the signs) but I didn't.
There were quite a few vendors outside the temple...
We tried fried quail eggs and fried coconut milk (both good!) and the whole thing was $.60!
Finally, on our last night in Chiang Mai we had a great dinner at a little place that offered a tasting menu - I can't remember the name but thought it was fun to sit on this little couch thing to eat :)
Our time in Chiang Mai was very relaxing; we were able to see the sights but it wasn't overwhelming, which was really nice. Other not pictured activities? Getting Thai massages, which were awesome and only $6 for an hour - massages are sooooo cheap in Thailand! Chiang Mai was also where we visited the elephant sanctuary and I'll be sharing pictures from there next!