Chiang Mai is a highly cultural city. Everywhere I went, there was a celebration of Lanna arts, crafts, and culture. I found shopping in Chiang Mai to be a delight. There were malls, sure, but what I found more amazing is how the city made it very easy for tourists to access local arts, crafts, and food that, as a true blue Pinoy, can bring home as pasalubong (souvenirs). Advertisements
Aek pointed out something on the ground. “Look at that. Do you know why the people of Thailand love the King so much? Because of that,” he said. I tried to understand what he was trying to say because the road was narrow and muddy. It was not until we got to a clearing and saw the length of the humble irrigation system that ran the whole side of the mountain we just trekked. This is why I came to Thailand. I may not have met the King. But I witnessed how he changed the lives of his people, through irrigation, through agriculture.
“Where do you stay?,” the Destination Chiang Mai agent asked us. “Behind Wat Mo Kham Tuang,” along Sri Poom Road.” He scratched his head. “Is that the wat with many horses?” I said, “No. It’s the wat with glitters on its front wall.” He got more confused. Everybody in the office now joined us as we plotted where Wat Mo Kham Tuang is. “Ah, there are just too many wats here in Chiang Mai.”
Eating out in Chiang Mai was easier compared to Bangkok because Chiang Mai was a smaller city. In fact, we just have to walk 10 meters and we could get papaya salad made fresh by our neighbor in his home-turned-restaurant-at-night. Beside his house, another neighbor sells banana and vegetable fritters. In Chiang Mai, you walk just a distance of five meters and another restaurant, diner, or stall selling food will greet you. Here are my top recommendations.
Our introduction to Chiang Mai came in the form of a museum. Come to think of it, this was the only museum we visited in our Thailand trip, and we were only compelled to do this because a local, Joy, the owner of our guesthouse, recommended we make such a visit. We had time to burn while waiting for our 2PM check-in time and Joy suggested we visit the Lanna Folklike Museum, which was just one big block away from the guesthouse.
Chiang Mai is a city bursting with tourists (but not in an overrated way). The city does its tourism management so well that, despite knowing there are many tourists, it did not feel crowded at all. Because Chiang Mai attracts millions of tourists in any given year, finding accommodation is not difficult. But choosing the right for us proved more difficult than anticipated because there were so many to choose from!
Phitsanulok is somewhere between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. It is a small city, but I have heard of it already because Joel’s aunt lived and worked there and their family has stories and memories of the city. We never got to explore much of the city but we did have some “stopover” hours on our way to Chiang Mai, and there are two things we would go back for — friend chicken and Pista Cafe!
Joel and I have been wanting to visit Chiang Mai for the longest time. We have been hearing of the beauty of the place from Joel’s family. His aunt and her family have lived there for about a decade and has been constantly inviting us to visit. Finally, last year, we decided to give it a go. Our journey to Chiang Mai took years to plan and took 12 hours to complete.
Guide to enjoying and exploring Siam’s first capital.
During our trip to Thailand, I was determined to visit the two most popular UNESCO World Heritage sites because they were accessible by different modes of transportation. Having already explored Ayutthaya with my siblings and husband, only Sukhothai remains on my to-check out list. After a week exploring Bangkok, on a Saturday morning, my husband and I ate our last breakfast at the Station Cafe, checked out, and took the earliest special express train to Phitsanulok.
Lovely guesthouse with swimming pool in Sukhothai.