It’s such a big deal for someone who hasn’t been to Chiang Mai for about 15 years or maybe longer, to finally go visit Chiang Mai at last! I know it sounds ridiculous, considered this is probably one of the places everyone visits regularly, and most likely one of the places tourists go when they first visit Thailand.
I didn’t expect much from this trip in the beginning. After all, it’s a domestic trip, how exciting could this be? We just booked the tickets 2 weeks prior and we hadn’t really planned anything much for this short 4 day trip. I sort of had some places and ideas in mind. In fact, it kind of hit me the night before we left that, shit, let’s figure out somewhere to go after we land in Chiang Mai at 8AM tomorrow!
But the trip turned out to be way beyond my expectation. I totally fell in love with Chiang Mai! After Amsterdam, this is the second place I thought could be a great place to live. I’ve never thought I could live elsewhere in Thailand apart from Bangkok my hometown, so this trip challenged my perception on that, surprisingly enough.
No cafe hopping
Though we didn’t plan much, my boyfriend and I agreed on one thing that, nope, not gonna do cafe hopping like so many Bangkok people do and post on social media, because why would you go to Chiang Mai to do such thing when you could just go to Thonglor instead!? Don’t get the trend much, honestly.
So this trip was a mixture of nature and city. We went up to famous touristy spots like Doi Suthep and Doi Inthanon for some fresh air. It felt totally amazing to feel the cool breeze of 15C in April, which is the middle of Thai summer, on top of Doi Inthanon, 2,565M above the sea level.
One of the things I love the most is our lovely accommodation called Vayahouse on the mountaintop with panoramic views of mountains near Mon Cham. It was very simple, we literally stayed in a tiny wooden box. 2,090THB per night was quite expensive for the room we got, but I suppose you pay for the breathtaking view in front of your own tiny balcony.
Opening the door, stepping out into the warmth of the sun, breathing fresh air of 15C morning weather deeply, with some jazz music in the background felt surreal. I sat there for a while, just taking it all in. And wonder, what else could you possibly want in life? Why complicates it so much?
Besides nature, we did a bit of templing in the city and a lot of Kao Soi eating! I totally fell in love with Kao Soi and couldn’t get enough of it that we had it almost everyday! One of the best ones we had was simply the local one with no name, only 35THB Kao Soi with chicken that our local friend kindly gave us recommendation. The ones on website and social media reviews can’t beat it.
Our colleague who is from Chiang Mai also came home during this period and showed us around a bit. First we went to see him in Chiang Mai university, what a lovely campus! We even spontaneously drove to Lampoon afterwards. I didn’t know before it was this close to each other. Did some local night market, ate at a northern restaurant and some local dishes, and we got some food recommendations like really amazing burger place (at 190 THB! Way too cheap) from our Chiang Mai colleagues, so all in all we were in a good hand.
Like I said before, traveling with locals is the best way to get to know the city.
Our boutique hotel in the city on Nimman also was pretty cute. I randomly found it on booking and booked it myself. The building is like an old house, with a nice touch of vintage decor. Really love it.
Why I love Chiang Mai
I feel like the city is a perfect combination of city and nature. Chiang Mai has city life which is what I do need, but mountain/nature is only an hour away. There is NO traffic. In city center, it could get a bit crowded during peak hours, but this is nothing compared to Bangkok. We can reach anywhere within 20-30 minute drive, and that feels pretty amazing.
The weather was perfect when I was there. Our local friends said we were so lucky because this is very rare for April. Usually it can get uncomfortably hot. I was worried about the poisonous smog, but it was raining on and off the whole time we were in Chiang Mai, which made the weather much cooler. It got hot during the day, but cooled down to 24C or so at night.
So I didn’t know if I had experienced Chiang Mai with smog, would I had disliked the place more? We were too lucky, just like when I got to experience sunny Amsterdam in October.
The pace feels much slower than Bangkok here, but not too slow like some rural places. Overall I feel like the quality of life here is way better. Bangkok is getting more and more crowded by days, with zero solution to solve traffic problem. It gets tiring over time when you have to commute every day.
Our 23 year old colleague who is quite proud of Chiang Mai, his hometown, said
“The more you get older, I think you need to be closer to nature. It helps makes you want fewer things in life and just focus on what really matters.”
It still made me think until this day.
And it naturally made me question, What is the meaning of “Enough is enough”? How much do you have, in terms of money and materialistic things, is considered enough? What exactly are we struggling for in big city life? What are we trying to achieve here and for what? Why can’t we be satisfied with what we have?
We asked him about house prices and some businesses in Chiang Mai. The prices shocked us as it’s way cheaper than Bangkok. Obviously, pay is much lower here as well.
Post-vacation blues (No surprise!)
Not too bad this time, although I felt a bit…deflated on Monday morning, which was to be expected first day back at work after holiday. It’s a pattern that I can easily predict now, that this feeling will hit me.
Remember that enthusiasm I had after Taiwan trip in January? I can say it’s pretty much gone now and am entering a bit of dark place at the moment, for a number of reasons. A lot of things on my mind since end of February, and they are still here.
So let’s see what quarter 2 of 2018 will bring. The first 3 months had been rather interesting, both good and bad. I hope this next quarter will be a new change, for once. Need to retrieve that motivation and positive energy back.
Love you Chiang Mai. Gave me more than I had expected, and even made me question life in general, something I didn’t expect from a domestic trip. Always good to get a reality check via traveling from time to time. The ability to step back and examine life is crucial, if you ask me.