Chiang Mai is the northern economic and tourist hub and second largest city in Thailand. The terrain is rather hilly leading to slightly cooler weather than points south. While not vertical like Bangkok, we were surprised by the bustle and size when we arrived.
Chiang Mai is known for it’s temples and we managed to visit a handful of them in our five days. The Chedi Luang complex in Old Town was stunningly beautiful with lots of smaller temples – some of which women were not allowed in. Thankfully there were robes available so Leandra could enter the main temple (no knees or shoulders can be bare).
Wat Chedi Luang – the elephant temple
Wat Bupparam off Tha Pae Road
On our last morning we met up with the sister of Leandra’s friend Su back in NC. Instead of the heavily touristed Doi Suthep temple, Debbie suggested Wat Pratat Doi Kam as a less-touristed alternative. It was much quieter and the large Buddha statue was fantastic. One interesting fact – people will often drop off unwanted dogs at the monasteries (monks don’t believe in killing) so you will often see very relaxed dogs hanging out in temple complexes.
Wat Pratat Doi Kam with dog sunning himself
Chiang Mai is also well known for its markets. A wide variety of items are for sale and (most) prices are negotiable. Our hotel was right outside the famous Night Market along Chang Klang Road so we visited this market several times.
Leandra exploring the bustling night market
Leandra honed her bargaining skills over several excursions to the Night Market (she’s got the scarves to prove it), and put those skills to use at the Sunday night Walking Market along Ratchadamneon Road inside the walls of the old city. Instead of shopping Eric opted for a 30 minute neck and shoulder massage on the street (60 baht, $2!) on the last night in Chiang Mai.
Sunday night market in the Old City
Though some streets could be a challenge to cross, Chiang Mai was a fun and vibrant city to explore on foot, and we can’t wait to get back.