• Hannah Cartwright

A Guide to Thailand: Chiang Mai

In May 2017, my friends and I spent three weeks travelling around Thailand. We had the best time and saw so many amazing things. Here are just a few of my tips and highlights from our six day stay in Chiang Mai.

1. Doi Inthanon National Park. I would definitely recommend this park to anyone staying in Chiang Mai. It was one of the pricier things we did but was completely worth it! It was 1300THB (£30) for the day, which included: transport to and from our hostel, transport all around the park, entry to the park and lunch. The tour takes you to the highest point in Thailand, also home to the burial ground of the last King of Chiang Mai who was one of the first people to try and preserve the forests of Northern Thailand. We also saw the Royal Chedis, which are two temple-like buildings built for the King and Queen on their 60th birthdays. They were both surrounded with beautiful gardens and had views overlooking Chiang Mai. We then stopped at the Royal Gardens. It was a beautiful area full of colourful plants and flowers with a lake in the centre with swans and fish. Later, we were then taken to a small hill tribe where we had the opportunity to buy some local produce, such as coffee and hand-made scarves. And finally we visited Wachirathan Falls. Here we had an all-you-can-eat lunch of local dishes before dipping our toes in the bottom of the waterfall. You can also stand at the top and feel the spray of the water! This is a great place to go if you’re looking to learn a little more about the history and culture of Chang Mai.

2. Night Bazaar. We didn’t spend long here but it was recommended to us by a few people so we made sure to check it out. It was a few streets lined with bars, restaurants, clubs and souvenir stalls. We walked all around it before picking a random bar to sit down and have a drink in. This bar was advertised as an Irish bar but definitely wasn’t! The only thing Irish in there was the name ‘Irish Bar’ on the outside and a few green decorations! But we stayed anyway, had a giggle, finished our drinks and headed back to the hostel. Although we didn’t go into any other bars, they all looked pretty lively. If you were looking to party in Chiang Mai, this is the place to go.

3. Old City (the square). The main place to go in Chiang Mai is Old City, also referred to as ‘the square’. Here is where you’ll find all the temples, the Sunday market, street food market and lots of other cafes and accommodation. The Night Bazaar is also just opposite it. We spent a full day here just walking around in and out of temples. It cost nothing to go in to any of them so is a great stop for budget travellers.

4. Sunday Market. This is a must see if you are in Chiang Mai on a Sunday. We were told by everyone we met to visit it if we got the chance so we did! I was expecting just one street lined with souvenir stalls. However, when we arrived we saw that it was actually several streets and a few courtyards absolutely crammed with stalls! You could buy pretty much any souvenir you could think of. Clothes, bookmarks, matches, pictures, fans, toys – you name it, they had it! There was also a food court full of lots of different local and freshly made food. We stopped here and I had some pumpkin fries, which were amazing! We looked around a lot of the stalls and between us bought A LOT! Here is the best and cheapest place to get the famous baggy trousers. I didn’t get any here as I bought a maxi dress instead. It was 300THB (£7). It is advised that you haggle with the sellers here as they will charge tourists more than the product is worth so don’t be afraid to offer a lower price. Just not too low as you don’t want offend them. Another traveller we met suggested going 40% lower than the given price and work up from there.

5. Accommodation. While in Chiang Mai we stayed in Thai Thai Hostel, which we found through Hostel World. It was such a good hostel and I would definitely recommend it to others. The staff were so welcoming and friendly, happy to help us with anything we needed. Whenever we got back from a day out they always took the time to ask us how our day had been and what we had planned for the next day. It was much busier than our last hostel, packed with other young travellers. Everyone chilled in the common room in the evenings to play cards, watch TV and drink Chiang Beer creating a homely atmosphere. It was about a fifteen-minute walk from Old City and a fifteen-minute drive from the airport so a perfect location!

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