So bye bye Laos, Hello Thailand. I wanted to check out northern Thailand – I’ve done Bangkok and the islands, but never gone this far up. I wanted a taster of Chiang Mai to see how different it is to the south. I’m pleased to say (in this case), it is same same but different.
Where am I staying?
Park Hotel, a hotel with quite a few bells and whistles. Only downside? 7 minute tuk tuk ride or 1/2 hour walk. It’s one of the nicer hotels I’m staying in.. and it also has a pool – which I didn’t get to use as I was too busy sightseeing.. priorities.. priorities.
My room was lovely albeit a bit blingy, no complaints though, 2 big double beds and loads of space…
- Grubbiness factor: non existent, thank you very much.
- Shower: 7/10. Hot water, decent pressure, but stubborn shower head which meant me manoeuvring more than it.
- Bed: 8/10. Lovely and comfy. What I will say about this room is that it was a mission to find a power socket! There was only one and if I wanted others I had to unplug TVs and lamps!
What did I eat?
Breakfasts again were included in the hotel, a massive buffet breakfast, a good thing if you are an omni. Not so good if you’re me.
Saying that though they had a great fruit spread, so overdosed on that, but once again, my PB came in handy and their bread was fresh and very tasty. MMM.
I did have to open the emergency rations one morning and have this chia seed pudding – still had some left over from the last set of travels. With some chopped banana, alongside a cup of green tea.. it was excellent. I also thought I’d be daring and try the congee with various toppings – salted tofu, picked pumpkin, peanuts. The congee itself was fine – really simple, but the toppings. Oh no no. Not for me. Not that early in the morning.
They had these cheesy mugs, all with cheesy messages – a great idea, if you’re a pubescent teenage girl.
Lunch one day was at Vegan Heaven. Convenient location as it was down the road from one of the nicest temples I visited earlier in the day. 100% vegan, lots of options including mock meats (which I am staying away from). What I was most happiest about was having an iced coffee – with coconut milk. I also ordered a red curry – massive portion, packed with flavour, soft tofu and yummy veggies. Only gripe? The rice wasn’t as fresh as it could be. I also got a pineapple kombucha to go – homemade and super refreshing as I was walking around in the heat. The vegan brownie that I bought was inconveniently forgotten in the hotel fridge when I checked out (arrrgh!) so can’t tell you about that – other than it looked super moist.
No more lunches – only water, it was baking and I was waaay too hot to eat! Dinners were at lovely restaurants. One night was at the Riverside restaurant – beautiful outdoor space, menu like a book.
Even though it was hot, I wanted a nice cup of tea, and got it in the form of an oolong. Delicious. I also went for a Tom Kha Hed – coconut soup with mushrooms. Not too hot but oh my word. How amazing was it. Full of herbs and spices, hint of chilli, creamy, hot, I could have had this every day. It came with rice, which in my option was a waste – I was happy to gorge on the soup.
Dinner the next night was at The Whole Earth. Stunning restaurant with a sparkly outside space – it was really beautiful. I ordered the Pad Thai sans egg. Pimped with more lime and chilli – m m m. I could have licked the plate. And to go with it – a zingy lemongrass soda. I also had the opportunity to order dessert.
I say opportunity because there was something other than fruit (boring) or ice cream (no can do) on the menu. Mango sticky rice. One of my favourite desserts, I even learnt how to cook it when I was down in Phuket a couple of years ago. Sweet creamy rice with sweet creamy coconut – perfect marriage of flavours – and they were so generous with the mango, had to give most of it away! I ate all the rice though. Good thing I like rice – I prefer it to bread/chapatis and can eat it for every meal if required. And I have been. Haha.
Snacks? Mainly fresh mango, and iced coffees with coconut milk now I knew that was an option. Perfect.
Snacks I did not indulge in were a big sheet (hehe), okra crisps or even dried bamboo caterpillars. Whoa!
What did I do?
Temples! I’m not templed out yet – however I think I will be by the end of this trip, so I got myself a red taxi to Chedi Luang (30 baht – so easy to get around), one of the main temples in the in old city. For some of them I had to pay – like this one (40 baht) and for others – freeee. I then walked to the teak temple next door – Wat Pan Tao, until I found my way to Wat Phra Singh – my favourite temple in the area. I just loved the feel of this place – busy yet calm, lots of open space, beautiful gardens, quiet spots, the cleanest tourist toilets in Thailand.. you know, it all adds up! I also wandered to tha three kings statue, it was well, a statue. Very beautiful flowers in the square though! I know there are lots of temples, but I was really happy with the ones I visited.
Other than walking to a temple, getting out of the sun, cooling down, walking to the next temple, I also did what I love best. Yes. Massages. I had a super 2 hour foot and Thai massage at Chai Massage – hooooooo yeah. Go here. Clean, bright, calming, cheap – all boxes ticked.
I also visited night market – biggest in Thailand. What I really liked about this place is they didn’t hound you, and the prices were pretty reasonable. I didn’t spend long here, it was pretty mad and to be honest once I got a few tops for the fam, I was out of there.
What I preferred was the morning market – more enjoyable and so much more to see! Including colourful Thai desserts and a giant bowl of sticky rice with toppings for breakfast. Nice!
So all in all, I really enjoyed Chiang Mai – food, people and massages all lovely.. what more could I ask for!