Up in the North of Thailand, and ignored by some so-called Thailand-Fans, lies beautiful Chiang Mai. There’s so much to do and see here! Lots of beautiful things here – and some ugly ones!
Not beautiful: Old men with way too young Thai boys. Let’s hope, there is love behind it. Chiang Mai is not really famous for that, but we noticed it during our stay.
Let’s focus on the beautiful things.
What is there to see in Chiang Mai: lots of green, many elephants and rice fields and even more wats (temples). Of course we didn’t see all of them in our three days’ stay.
Do it! Take the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Take a pullover or a light jacket with you. But do it!
Lots of boy scouts were on their way this day! It seemed like they took half of the space at bangkok train station. They were so well-behaved and disciplined. Can´t imagine this in Germany!
Nowadays you can sometimes get flights as cheap as the train. Nevertheless you should have made this experience. It’s one of the rare places, where not everyone cares about tourists all the time and this is really great!
Air condition cools down the train to 16°C. No problem with 30°C outside! The spicy food, which is served, is really spicy. Mine was described as ‘slightly spicy’ and it was really extreme; I was crying, actually.
In general: Buy your food on the streets, when in Thailand! It’s good, cheap and we didn’t have one single negative experience- at least with Thai food; it’s different with European Food, but this will be mentioned later. Inside the train, food was more expensive and less good. Just take something with you for the ride.
It’s recommended to keep your values with you. There are many people in your compartment. Many unknowns, of course. Thais are not known to steal a lot. Definitely not! It’s even frowned upon here. We were just a bit paranoid because of the other ‚Farangs‘. Broke backpackers – at least they smelled as if. Some didn’t have a shower for days!
Seats will be conversed to beds and you can really sleep comfortably – if you can ignore arctic temperatures.
Sleeping was a must, as the train arrived very early in the morning. Even if not, the beds were re-conversed early. Not so bad, as we could enjoy the beautiful green landscape. And those lovely small train stations we passed.
Extremely low costs for food and accommodation
Thailand is very cheap in general, especially for Europeans. We got a hint not to take one of the hotels offered at the train station. Many owners were waiting for potential guests. Bad for them, in our train there weren’t too many.
As we didn’t pre-book, we looked at the offers nevertheless. Some were a bit flashy, but most were OK. We negotiated with a nice lady; we agreed to have a look at her hotel and then decide. It was a win-win-situation: she had potential guests, we had a free ride in town. Sounds mean, but we really wanted to stay in her hotel.
And we liked it. It was close to the centre, rooms were spacious and clean. Even a pool was there. Staff was very nice and we were highly satisfied. And we just paid € 3.50 per person and per night. In January 2010, the euro was still strong!
Our accommodation’s name: Taphae Garden Guest House. They organize trips and tours, too.
Eating out is very cheap, too. First of all, there is everything here! A night market was not far from our Guesthouse.
Perfect: you could have lots of delicious food for little money.
There are lots of cafès and markets – flowers, food, clothes and hotchpotch – everything you need and everything you don’t need. By reading some shops’ signs you can see, many Europeans (especially Germans) are living here.
Chiang Mai is definitely the most beautiful of Thailand’s cities, we were visiting (although those were only few). At least you can breathe here (contrast to Bangkok) – due to the close mountains, air quality is really high and sky is clear. Temperatures are usually a bit lower than in the rest of Thailand. But still it’s warm the whole year with low humidity. We aren’t surprised, Germans are taking over the place.
Also important: In January there are almost no mosquitoes here. At least I (Burcu) wasn’t bit. And that means, there were none of them!