Arriving in the Bangkok airport, we all felt like we were coming home. We had joined up again with Arielle and Shane as they were on our flight, and were all happy to be back in a country we knew. Our stay in Bangkok only held one true mission, our visa for Vietnam. So we checked into the Marriott, again, said hello to all the staff that we recognized, filled out our paperwork and got our visas, got laundry done, and managed to have one fantastic meal (see traveler’s tip for the name) before we headed north for Chiang Mai.
After two days of a rushed R&R, we wanted to explore the north of Thailand and see if the tempo, people, cuisine, and cost was any different. Chiang Mai was pretty much no different from the south in terms of culture, but the tempo was more relaxed. The city is only 500,000 people, far fewer than the millions in Yangon and Bangkok, so you never felt like you were in a swarm. However, the ratio was now much different, because it seems like everyone and their mother had come to Chiang Mai.
“Now I’m homesick” -Amando says after eating Mexican
Chiang Mai was a place for us to catch up on some sleep, eat Mexican food almost every day, zipline, pet some tigers, make new friends, ride an elephant and a bamboo raft, and just chill. We managed to do a lot of exploring on motorbike just tooling around town and enjoying some cooler weather for a change. We rode one afternoon to a wat (temple) 40 minutes outside of town on the top of a mountain. I’m not sure what was more rewarding, the twisty, lush, cool breezy ride, or the view from up top, but it was a highlight. At one point the jungle noises of birds, insects and reptiles were louder than our bike’s lawnmover engine. I was also excited that this was the only temple we visited in Chiang Mai. After Myanmar, we needed a break from them.
**Travel Tip: We only wish we had found this restaurant, and street, in Bangkok sooner. GOOD STORY restaurant is located at 72-74 Phra-arthit Road, Chanasongkhram Phranakorn, Bkk. Tel: 02-6292924. Our meal was cheap, the food was full of flavor, and the restaurant was hip. And this whole street contains other great restaurants popular with younger more hipster Thais. It’s close to Kaoh San Rd. but NOT Kaoh San.
Chiang Mai – We stayed at Top Garden Boutique Guesthouse and highly recommend it (13 Chaiyapoom Road, Soi 1 T.Sriphoom-near Miguel’s) . Just opened in January, the couple that runs it is lovely, rooms are big, clean, and full of light, and you get a lot of bang for your baht (best coffee in Chiang Mai!). We ate at Miguel’s (our favorite) and Salsa Kitchen (across from the Royal Orchid Hotel, different from the tripadvisor map and the meal was Same Same but Different) for Mexican. We recommend Bake&Bite for breakfast and lunch – great bagels, sandwiches, and perfectly cooked eggs (Go There!). Two locations: Nimmanhemin, Soi 6, Tel. 053-400-577 and Kaew-nawarat Soi 3/2, Tel. 053 249 689. Jungle Flight was a great company for ziplining and our 6 hour package was 2200 Baht, the best price we found. Lastly, renting a motorbike and riding out to Tiger Kingdom or the temple high up on the mountain yourself made for a great afternoon. The ride is only 30 minutes and we got our bike at North Wheels Rent-A-Car for 160 baht – cheapest yet and 3 min from our guest house! – and it was in great condition and they don’t take your passport. Last, following an at first skeptical tip from a ferang living in CM for 17 years, we know an EPIC spot for eating pork that is crowded with locals, ordering is like playing charades and are indifferent to your presence, grab your own glasses and ice in the back, no one speaks a lick of English, but the food is INCREDIBLE. Hit us up if you want to give it a shot :) Its near the Shangri-La hotel.