After our 5 days in Bangkok we were concerned we hadn’t left enough time to properly enjoy Chiang Mai with only 3 days until we needed to move on again to Pai. However, we needn’t worry – 3 days was perfect to explore the small town-like city that’s managed to hold onto its roots and atmosphere. Of course, you could live there and still be exploring once you pack up and leave, but like most places we’ve been, 3 nights tends to be the perfect time to explore before dragging your feet.
📷 Rows of beds on the train
Hopping off our first sleeper train in Thailand (and feeling infinitely more clean) we were ushered into a communal taxi that was happy to take us to our hostel while dropping other’s off along the way. We had to stifle laughs at the Americans who said they needed to go get some food “after that awful train journey” because for us it was sooo easy. We advised them not to attempt India anytime soon.
Arriving at Monkey Toe Guest House (don’t ask – we have no idea why it’s called that) we were greeted warmly and shown to our 10 bed dorm with wall dividers between each bunk. This instantly gave us an almost private bunk set up with reading lights, AC, and lockers and quickly set us up to fall in love with Chiang Mai. Popping out for lunch we instantly stumbled across a small street food cart that had tables and chairs and ordered our first noodle soup. Chiang Mai is famous for its food tasting incredible from street food to fine dining. Needless to say, our lunch was sensational and we went back to the dorm very happy with a belly full of noodles and ready to do a bit of Chiang Mai research then hit the town.
Monkey Toe was a quick 5 min walk from Old Town (central) which is surrounded by moats of water with small lanes of traffic running around and through it. Despite being a city, it is extremely easy to walk around and is the perfect place to simply wander around and bump into anything noteworthy. Case in point, our first night had us walk straight into the Sunday Night Market. While we were pretty marketed out at this point (thanks Anjuna) we did enjoy the food stalls and tried the famous Chiang Mai sausages which are spiced with lemongrass and out of this world (and bought for pennies).
NB: for those of you that haven’t figured it out yet, this blog post is most certainly a love letter to the food of Chiang Mai 💌.
Our second day in Chiang Mai consisted of a walking tour of the old town (conducted by yours truly), visiting temples at a distance as I hadn’t worn appropriate clothes (whoops), taking in the neighbourhood, petting the lap dogs that seem to be trendy with all stall owners, chatting to the friendly locals and visiting the city’s park. It was a lovely day full of really kind people and beautiful sights.
📷 Wandering around the beautiful temples and their gardens
📷 How many monks does it take to put up a sign? Apparently a lot!
On our walk back to the hostel we stumbled across a cold drinks stall and ordered some quick refreshments. For myself, an iced Thai tea (literally heaven in a cup and a must order if you’re ever in Thailand) and for Fitz a mango soda which was the size of his head! Literally, and cost just 30 bhat (£0.65). Walking back we were very pleased with our day – and our drinks – and headed back to get ready for a delicious dinner of sushi and beer in an up and coming restaurant.
Our second (and last) day in Chiang Mai we decided to rent a moped to take in the sights around the town. Having lunch at a small street stall that is rumoured to sell the best Khao Soi in all of Chiang Mai, we were extremely well fed and ready for our road trip.
📷 Khao Soi – the famous coconut based pork dish with egg noodles and crispy noddles on top. My favourite meal in the 3.5 months we’ve been away!
Chiang Mai is famous for its scenic routes and temples up on a mountain so we picked up a bike and went for a ride. The roads did not disappoint! Beautiful winding roads through huge green trees leading us further and further up the mountains were simply breathtaking and thankfully relatively quiet. With mounds of recorded go pro footage we finally made it to the top and got some gorgeous views of Chiang Mai city and the mountains surrounding us. We wandered around the temples gorgeous statues, again avoiding the temple itself as I’d forgotten my sarong (it’s becoming my forte) and soaked up the cool mountain air before hopping back on the bike and winding our way back down.
📷 Chiang Mai from a viewing deck on the mountain
FYI: Not naked, just wearing a leotard
Grabbing our street food phad thai, spring rolls and steamed pork buns we concluded our 3 day stint in Chiang Mai a very happy one and are thrilled to be returning here for one more night before our flight out of Thailand to Laos. Next stop we will immerse ourselves in the mountainous town of Pai. ⛰