After five days in Bangkok, I decided to head up North to Chiang Mai as I had heard lots of good things about this charming little city. If you want to find out about a secret trek and other treasures of this gem, then keep reading!
I arrived in Chiang Mai after a night spent on the train. Compared to India, it was very comfortable, I had a big bed to myself with a curtain and proper bedding! I have to say that it was one of the best nights’ sleep on transport in five months! One piece of advise: if you book transport in Thailand, do it at the ticket counter in the bus/train station. Agencies charge you lots on top and it’s a lot cheaper to do it directly at the station. Also do it in advance as it can get quite busy!
The day I arrived was the day after Loi Krathong, the Thai light festival. Unfortunately, I had missed the biggest part, but there were still some celebrations going on!
I had met a bunch of people in my hostel and we went out for dinner and then decided to light some offerings in the river as a few of us had missed the celebrations the night before.
Although it was pouring down with rain and we were completely soaked, it was magical to see the whole river being lit up and releasing my little offering into the water.
Chiang Mai really is a lovely city, full of temples, nice little coffee shops and amazing restaurants. Me and Amanda from the hostel wandered around the streets for hours, looking for the famous restaurant area but somehow walked past and ended up in a very local area, where no one spoke any English and there was just one soup on the menu. It was a lovely meal and it was nice to be in a local place without tourists for once!
Mind you, of course we also did the touristy bits. There are so many temples in Chiang Mai, we spent an entire afternoon temple hopping! The city centre is surrounded by walls in a rectancular shape and most temples are situated within, which means that everything is within walking distance.
One of my favourite things to do in Chiang Mai is a hike that people from the hostel recommended to us. It’s a trail that leads you from Chiang Mai zoo to Doi Suthep, passing another temple called Wat Phalad. Because we were all girls and didn’t fancy a steep incline in hot weather, we decided to do it the other way around.
We got a taxi to take us to Doi Suthep, the most famous temple in Chiang Mai. It is placed on a hill, overlooking the city of Chiang Mai. It is a gorgeous temple whose gold glistens in the sun.
The temple is the main attraction of Chiang Mai, which means that it is full of tourists. Again, I would recommend getting there as early as possible to avoid the masses and the midday heat!
After we had explored the temple, we headed down the hill for the trek. The guys at the hostel had told us before that it is a bit difficult to find it, especially going down rather than up. So, of course, we missed the entrance and had to walk halfway up the hill again to find the path. If anyone reading this wants to go the way we did, you have to go down following the street from Doi Suthep and when you see a steep turn in the street, there will be a little place with sand in front of you. There you have to go through the grass in the middle and look for the tiny footpath that will lead you down. It took us quite a while to find this as it is quite hidden!
The path itself is very small and used by the monks to walk between the two temples. It is marked in parts with orange fabric on the trees but it can be hard to find. Don’t let this put you off though as the walk is beautiful and this view is well worth it!
The Wat Phalad temple is located in the middle of the woods and super quiet. Since it’s harder to get to, there are only few tourists here and you can enjoy nature’s beauty in silence.
If you are in Chiang Mai and fancy something that’s a bit challenging and rewards you with a beautiful temple and stunning views, I would highly recommend this trail! I was so happy that I was recommended this hike and it was one of my favourite experiences of my trip.
I have heard before that Chiang Mai is a place were you can get sucked into staying for a long time and I definitely agree. There are plenty of yoga places and nice places to just relax that it’s easy to forget time. Most restaurants are also reasonably priced and a lot cheaper than in the South of Thailand.
Have you been to Chiang Mai before? What was your favourite part about this city?