We leave from Vientiane Laos via Asia Airlines. Our flight left at 2:30 pm finally not an early morning flight. Our flight took an hour to get to Bangkok. There we had about 3 hour layover. At 7:30pm we left to get to Chiang Mai,Thailand. At 8:30pm we finally arrive. The cost was about 273$ USD.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
In The City Hostel and co-work space: 61 Sri Poom Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand https://bit.ly/2FNdjjk
About The Accommodation:
- This was a co-work and co-living space. It offers private rooms and dorm style living. The ground floor is the private rooms and shared bathroom. Up the stairs you have the open seating spaces and kitchen. Which you are allowed to use. The third floor was the dorms,skype rooms and another hang out area with bathroom. Finally a rooftop where breakdancing classes and movies are held.
- Despite the 10+ people living or working there the wifi was very strong and stable. It did go down a couple times when we were not teaching, but the staff was quick to try to solve the issue.
- The skyperooms worked well if you are the only person in them. If other people are in them then you can be heard, but that is an issue anytime the skyperooms are next to each other. We had 3 teachers all teaching at the same time. However there is your room and other places that worked just fine for teaching.
- Local lunch was cooked daily and it was delicious. The staff and regulars there will help you with anything you need and are very kind. We made a lot of friends from this co living that we still speak to today.
- Situated inside Northen Old City Wall. Close walk to bar street, restaurants, cafes and some street food.
- 315$ USD for a private room,lunches included, two people for the week. Use the Facebook link above to message the owner she is so kind and very helpful.
What To Do In Chiang Mai, Thailand:
- There are hundreds of temples and sites to see. Here is a few we went to:
Wat Lok Moli, Wat Kuu Tao, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Soa Duak , Lanna Royal burial site, Wat Chiang Man, Wat Phantao, Wat Chedi Luang, Wiang Kum Kam ruins area, Wat E Kang ruins, Wat Pha Lat, Wat Phra That Hariphunchai, Wat Chiang Yuen.
- Doi Suthep National Park -We took a long Mobike ride to the start of the park. You have to leave your bikes there and begin the hike to the top.It was long,steep and hard but it was totally worth it. Most tourists take a car or tuk tuk up and down but the best way to see it is by hiking.
- Bars and Food: My Beer Friend for local craft beer, Chill out bar( Late night drinks cocktails with local alcohol around 4$USD),Soldier Bar, and Rock Me Burger. Bar street-It closes at midnight there are bars in another area that roll the gate down and you can go in,but it is has the Thai Dates vibes.
- Other Sites: Maya Mall- good local food and all types of shopping. Also the mall has an arcade and karaoke. Excellent cinema that is cheap. Ploen Ruedee Market. Sunday Night Market Chiang Mai.
- Bike around and see some local communities and try tons of local food.
Chiang Mai is ticky for the budget, because there are so many touristy places. You can have your vegan meals and smoothie bowls. Do Yoga, eat at all types of restaurants and try different kinds of bars on bar street. When you are able to find street food like at the night markets it is well priced. MoBike is also well priced but you must have a working phone number to set it up. They also have a bus service which you should use for pretty cheap. That being I would say 45-50$USD for two people a day.
At times in Chiang Mai I looked around and couldn’t even tell I was in another country. There are so many expats there some who pretty much live there doing visa runs every few months. It was hard to find many locals unless they were working at hostels, bars or restaurants or if you traveled outside the city center.
That being said the temples were beautiful and I loved all the night markets where you could find some really tasty food. Even the outdoor tousity one. Now we board a bus to journey up to Chiang Rai. Most people only do a day trip to Chiang Rai to see the white and blue temples however I wish I would have stayed weeks there. It has an abundance of locals and just overall better than Chiang Mai.
Chiang Rai, Thailand
Like I said earlier most people do day trips to Chiang Rai. I don’t understand how that is possible. The bus we took off 12go was called Green Bus. We left in the evening and it was supposed to be close to 4 hours, but I think it took about 5. The roads were being worked on and a bit of a challenge to get up. The cost was perfect 15$USD for two people.
Huenchandee’s House: https://bit.ly/2OBlQc0
- This was a traditional Lanna style house. 2km walk from the city centre. It was about a 2o minute walk to Night Bazaar and around 35 minute walk to the clocktower.
- We had a private traditional Lanna style room, most of the other people renting rooms were local families. The family made local thai soup, boiled egg and juice every morning. There also is an option to make toast. The soup was well-done and the family was so kind. We enjoyed staying with them very much.
- The wifi worked very well, our room was close to the router and the internet never cut out. We did have to have the router reset once before a shift,but other than that perfect.
- Bikes are available to rent which we took everywhere some extremely far. Laundry can also be done for you for a reasonable price.
What To Do In Chiang Rai, Thailand:
- Right off the bat most of you will say to see the long neck and other tribes. However I would suggest against this and not taking a tour to see them. If you want to see them go there yourself and interact with them. In Chiang Rai you will see many different families dressed in hill tribe clothing in the town. I even saw one of the long neck women at the market and she was covering her neck looking worried when any tourists looked at her. They are not zoo animals. When you go up to these tribes everyone is dressed up kids included and offering you things to buy. However when you see them out in the community especially the kids they often wear traditional clothing but not as elaborate as when you visit them. They don’t ask you buy things from them. They act and talk with you like normal people.
Take a long bike ride out to a village get out of the city centre and interact with the community if you want to learn about them. There was a festival around this time where we were able to learn and meet many of the local tribes in an ethical way. They were showing off their customs and traditions. It was really amazing to see. You could sit in one area of the festival and see so many different colors of clothing,shades of people and traditional garments it was so heart-stopping. The long neck tribes were not there. I think a lot of exploitation goes on especially in the long neck tribes take a look closer at the pictures they advertise they often look very sad. Which is what I saw on the womens face at the night market. Please be a responsible tourist and don’t treat these people like zoo animals.
I was at a temple where a little girl about 5 was dressed up in traditional wear. Her mother(Who was not in traditional garments) was forcing her to parade around the tourists. She was crying and screaming but her mother pushed her to go on. I was outraged as it was heartbreaking to watch.Tourists picking her up giving her kisses and taking photos with her. Of course in the end giving her money. Instead of being in school she is forced to come out here every day. While her mother sits around and doesn’t ask anyone for money. Please do not be that tourist, please respect the children. They are not for your Instagram feed. They are real people being exploited to dress up and beg by their parents. Giving money to them is not a permanent solution to the issue they will not be able to survive when they grow up because they have been taken out of school to beg and the cycle will continue. I saw many children even from tribes attending school, there is that option even in far out areas. They need the education to break this cycle and gain skills. Volunteer to help the schools and tribes if you want to help and learn about them.
The festival I am speaking of is called King Mengrai Festival it is celebrated Jan 26-Feb 4th. You can try so many mouth-watering foods as well as watch phenomenal performances put on by the different hill tribes. It is a must do for sure. When there you will notice many other tribes in the natural surrounding some may have elements of their tribe wear but most wear plain clothes especially the children. So when you visit them on a tour they are dressing up solely for you. The children are being taken out of school to stand around take pictures and put on a show for your tour. Which is why I suggest not going that route.
- When we were there not only was there a festival celebrating the tribe people. There was the Chiang Rai Flower Festival. Held Dec 1st- January 31st. You can see so many wondrous flower installations and try palatable street food. Also learn traditional Lanna style dances.
- Check out the heart-stopping old clocktower show it goes off I believe at 7pm and 9pm it is truly very cool to watch. I tried to go as many times as possible.
- White and Blue temple are not the only ones to see, there are so many more.Wat Doi Ngam Muang,Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Klang Wiang are just to name a few.
- Food and drinks:Hi-Shabu all you can eat Shabu Shabu 3$USD per person! What a steal,Arlee Coffee(Traditional Hill Tribe Coffee) ,CAT BAR, Reggae Home and bar , Hangover corner, Kafe Journal-KJ , น้ำเงี้ยวป้าสุข(Famous Lanna Soup),SanFran Burger and beer,Walking Street Chiang Rai. We ate at countless local markets and street food stalls we stopped at anyone we saw. They were all heavenly and offered this spicy Lanna style soup with pork rinds inside so succulent. Most do not come up on Google or Facebook.On the main street from Huenchandee’s House outside the 7-11 late night you will see a man making Roti pancakes. Must stop a little over 1$USD.
- A must do is to take a very long bike ride out to Singha Park. You can bike all around the exquisite campus. You will see ample amounts of different types of flowers, a tea plantation, fruit farm,local honey and so much more. We loved it so much we biked there twice. While biking you will see many local markets. They are a must stop for cheap local food and everyone will be so nice to you and happy to see you.
- We woke up around 5am and started are outstandingly long bike ride to Khunkorn Waterfall. This was a grand waterfall and worth the hike and bike ride. All these places you can take a car or tuk tuk, but then you miss interacting with all the local people.
Wow if Chiang Rai wasn’t at the top of my list because of the abundance of locals and street food it will be because of the budget. You could easily get away spending 25-35$ USD for two people here. There is so much flavorsome street food that is economical. The cost to enter white temple is about 1.60$USD per person. Blue is free. Take the blue style van to the White temple it should be no more than 30 BHAT or 94 cents. Do not let them tell you it is more. On the way back they will try to raise the price do not get in. Take the blue style van that does not have any advertisements on it. Your best bet is to pick it up at the local bus station for fare price. If it is advertised to go to white temple it will cost more.
Both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are beautiful. It all depends on what you are looking for. If you want to meet a lot of digital nomads or expats and make countless friends then you may learn toward Chiang Mai. However for us we fell in love with Chiang Rai and could spend months there. The people are so happy to see you. Everything is so cheap and man the abundance of street food is unreal. You can learn so much about the Lanna culture there and really be immersed into traditions.
Thailand I feel sometimes with all the tourists it is hard to learn about Thai culture. Nevertheless in Chiang Rai I learned a good deal about the Lanna and Hill tribe people. We danced Lanna dancing with the locals and kids all night long it was so fun.Please take a week or more to experience Chiang Rai. You will not be dissapointed. It is a perfect place to take in all the culture, it is perfect for a budget traveler and great for an online teacher.
Well our time in up again in Thailand. Now we board our plane to Ubud Bali. What are your thoughts on Bali I have mixed feelings more on that later.
Have you been to Chiang Rai which do you prefer Chiang Mai or Rai comment below. Thank you again for taking the time to read.