A Week In Chiang Mai

We planned a week in Chiang Mai as a bit of a rest from travelling and so that we were not in a rush to see things. Dave and I visited Chiang Mai in 2005, at the end of our three month SE Asia trip. We were a bit over sight seeing then and did not visit one temple in the four days we were there. We had just come from Northern Laos so were still walking around open mouthed at 7-11s and other such modern conveniences like internet cafes (those things of the past). So this time around I was determined to see some of the temples Chiang Mai is famous for.

roof

Doi Suthep

In planning for Chiang Mai I found it really hard to find good budget family accommodation online. I emailed a few places and some never responded, some said they were full and others only had a room for part of the week. I wasn’t willing to risk not pre-booking because back in 2005 it took us a whole morning pounding the streets to find somewhere with vacancies.

In the end we chose Thapae Garden Guesthouse which is about five or ten minutes walk (depending if with kids or not!) from the old city and Thapae Gate. It was also a 5-10 minute walk in the other direction to the night market. We paid 890 baht ($AUD29) for a fairly small room with a double bed and a single bed, wifi, tv, fridge, bathroom, and aircon. They cleaned the room every second day. There was a swimming pool but it was under the building and freezing cold. The hotel was fine, comfortable enough and very quiet but nothing really special. I think we were spoiled by Sukhothai and anything would have been a come down after Baan Georges.

Thapae Garden Guesthouse

Our room at Thapae Garden Guesthouse

After a bit of enforced rest due to Dave coming down with a bad cold, the first temple we visited was Wat Doi Suthep which is on the mountain overlooking Chiang Mai. We took a tuk tuk to the base of the mountain and from there a sangthaew up to the temple. There are over 300 steps to climb up to the temple itself but it was quite interesting and the path was lined with food and souvenir vendors. I really enjoyed this temple. It was very busy with tourists but there was lots going on to watch. People praying, people circumnavigating the stupa, people lighting lamps and candles, people writing on cloth to be wrapped around the stupa. The kids seemed to enjoy this one too and Lillian went photo crazy with her ipod.

bells

Bells Wat Doi Suthep

We also had a 3rd birthday to celebrate while in Chiang Mai so the day before the big day, while Dave and Ed napped, Lil and I went searching for a cake. We tried a few places and then found Da Bakery Home and bought a chocolate fudge loaf cake. With time still to kill I decided to get a foot massage to celebrate our 100th day of travel. Lil opted to just sit in a massage chair with her feet up and play on her ipod for an hour. They brought her chilled water and snacks and she was happy and so was I!

What better way to celebrate 100 days of travel?

What better way to celebrate 100 days of travel?

Birthday preparations continued after dinner that evening when I went shopping (alone!) at the night market for presents. I had to wrap them in towels for lack of paper but the birthday boy didn’t mind the next morning. That day we were off to the zoo!

photographer

Chiang Mai Zoo

Chiang Mai Zoo is at the base of the mountain right where the sangthaews take you up to the temple. It’s quite a big and hilly zoo and has both a bus and monorail to take you around but we ended up walking it. It was a lovely cool day with drizzle on and off and not too hot to be walking around.

giraffe viewing

Giraffe!

The zoo was actually pretty good. We saw monkeys of all kinds, a seal show, peacocks and chickens (Ed’s favourites), elephants, lions, tigers, zebras, giraffes, orangutan, and more! We stopped for morning tea and ate the cake we’d bought the day before. It was absolutely delicious! Unfortunately we had no lighter for the candles but Ed blew them anyway.

cake face

Birthday boy cake face

It was lucky we went to the zoo when we did because the next day it poured with rain, and the day after, and then the next day too. It was a little bit miserable but when it did stop raining enough to get out and about we saw some lovely temples. The kids always moan about going to ‘another temple!’ but once we’re there they do enjoy them. There are usually plenty of quirky things like animal statues to keep their attention.

lying down incense

Temple incense

So that was our week in Chiang Mai! A little bit sick, a little bit wet, birthday fun, and temples galore. On Monday we got the bus north to Chiang Dao for some nature time!

Many more Chiang Mai photos here.

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