Our time in Chiang Mai was nothing short of amazing. Our trip started and ended here which turned out to be such a blessing because it gave us the chance to see and do everything we missed the first time around due to jet lag. This city is so amazing and laid back it’s the perfect destination to start and end a trip to SEA! (P.s this was the cheapest place we found to fly into so that’s something to keep in mind while planning your trip)
Where to stay:
We stayed at the BP City Hotel and it was good. I’m not going to tell you that this was the be all end all of hotels in Chiang Mai, in fact i’m sure you could find a lot better. But the rooms are spacious and clean, there is a pool, and it’s in a great location that’s close to the Chiang Mai Market, The Sunday Night Market, and a bunch of little shops and spots to eat. The best thing about this hotel is it’s proximity to coffee lovers which quickly became our favorite spot in the city (Check out below for some menu recommendations). We also heard great things about deejays hostel so I would suggest checking that out as well!
Where to eat:
Like most of what we found in Thailand, you really can’t go wrong with any of the food. But we do have a few key spots to share with you guys that are definitely worth checking out.
- Coffee Lovers. I already mentioned this, but I just had to remind you to check this spot out. It’s in a great location, close to the market and shops, and the staff are some of the absolute friendliest people I have ever met. Their muesli bowl with house made granola is unreal, and they have the best ice coffee and green tea in the city. I’m not kidding the green tea is insane, it’s the richest deepest emerald green shade you’ll ever see! It’s so good we brought home about 6 boxes/ bags each for ourselves and family and friends.
- Pressed Juice. We loved this as an alternative to an American breakfast that we could typically get at coffee lovers, or as a little snack through the day. Everything is made with fresh produce and it’s the only place we found in Chiang Mai that has wheat grass shots.
- Whole Earth. I loved everything about this restaurant. The ambiance is amazing, with twinkle lights and umbrellas everywhere and the food is SO good. We had Pad Thai, Rosti, and if you’re interested in trying something a little different get the taro fritters with corn gravy…I’m still thinking about them to this day.
- The Faces Gallery and Gastro Bar. This is such a cool spot. It’s tucked away on a little side street and i’m so happy we made a wrong turn and ended up in here. The entrance is literally a random door way on a long cement wall, but when you walk in the entire terrace is covered with beautiful greenery. It’s spots like these that make me so thankful I am able to travel and explore and just see what’s out there. They also serve up local craft beer if that’s you’re thing, but we stuck to the honey lemon spritzer.
- Street Food. You’re going to see this as a recommendation in every post. The street food in Thailand is an absolute must. It’s insanely cheap and some of the best food you’ll find in the city. We loved eating at the local markets, and some of our favorite things included Pad Thai, Coconut smoothies (Get one wherever you can find one. SO fucking good), fresh young coconut, avocados, chicken satay, and of course all the desserts.
What to do:
- Explore. One of our favorite things to do was to just walk around and check out the fresh local produce at the markets, and find little hole in the wall shops. Get lost down some side streets and find new spots you never thought existed, ask the locals where they recommend checking out. There is so much to do and see you won’t believe how long you can spend just wandering around.
- The Sunday Night Market. We live for this market. Some of my favourite memories from my entire trip came from this market and I have things I know I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. The best street food, sugar free dried mangos, coconut candy, Thai green milk tea, a beautiful camera strap, custom passport cases, and lucky jade jewelry are just a few of the things that made it back in my backpack with me.
- Day trip to Chiang Rai. We spent the day heading to Chiang Rai to see the White Temple and it was absolutely incredible (as are all the temples in Thailand). The detail was stunning and everything was lined with little pieces of mirror so the entire temple sparkled in the sun.
- National Park Garden. This is a really fun way to spend a few hours in Chiang Mai. It’s so fun to go through all of the different areas and see all of the plants and flowers, everything was so beautiful. Admission also includes a guided trolley tour but we just decided to walk around and explore on our own.
- Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. I obviously saved the best for last here. Seeing and hanging out with these elephants was something I will never forget. These gentle giants are so sweet, kind, and smart and it was an absolute pleasure to spend the day with them. From feeding them bananas, to bathing them, and giving them a massage with mud, I don’t think I could ever have had enough time with these guys. Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is a #NoRide sanctuary which is SO important. These poor creatures have been taken advantage of and tortured for years, so please do your research before deciding on what sanctuary to visit.
If there’s anything that you absolutely loved in Chiang Mai that I didn’t mention please leave it in the comments below! Also, this is the first post in my series of Travel Guides so get ready for an aggressive amounts of posts.