Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chiang Mai 2011

Walking down the streets of Chiang Mai, to be exact Tapae Road, I find it interesting that there are more foreigners than locals. The locals are also different from the usual Bangkok features as Chiang Maiers are lighter in skin tone and have strong features of Chinese decedents. You would not be able to differentiate some of the locals with Chinese Malaysians. Chiang Mai also very famously known as a holy place (think of Bali in Indonesia) has heaps of temples built decades and some perhaps centuries ago. A place of peace, I was able to really just sit back and enjoy visiting temples.

So I am going to break my post into a few categories; starting with this one – my experience overall in the trip. Then I am going to review 3 places in my next few post …


One of the main objective I am in Chiang Mai is to visit some of their famous temples. Apparently, you can get a few of them at just one street. Some of the notable ones I visited are:

Wat Pha Singh

1. One of the monk deceased body is still fresh and anew. Apparently, many high level monks bodies stay that way. FYI, that is not a Madame Tussaud’s work

Wat Pan Tao

1. One of the oldest temples still standing strong. The entire structure is made from timber

Wat Chedi Luang

1. The tallest and grandest monument still untouched and standing. A portion of the temple collapsed during earth quake and sadly, only a few of the structures remain visible.

2. Donation for dogs. Doggies here are very cute and do pose for a baht or two.

Doi Suthep

Cantik gila sial. Of course the entire structure is painted gold – not made from gold. The temple is generally commercialised when you notice there are donation box filled with notes at every corner. The place is swamped with tourist and I strongly think that you visit Doi Suthep mainly for its beautiful landmark and nothing strong in spiritual. Just sit back, enjoy the gold contrast against the blue sky and click away with your cam.

Advise – try not to take pictures of local kids dancing or singing or posing, you end up paying them “entertainment fee” unless you are prepared to hear a child cry in public.

Tapae gate and road – Sunday Night Market Bazaar

A strong recommendation from my visit is the Sunday night market at Tapae Road. The walk is one long stretch from Tapae gate (you should see Black Canyon Coffee) to one of the must visit temples – Wat Pha Singh. So be prepared with a comfortable walking shoe and lots of Baht …

It screams with vibrancy of culture. Because of that, thousands of visitors of both local and foreigners jam the road for local food, beverages, local design fashion wears, organic aromatic soaps and wash, hand-made souvenirs to performances of all age and groups. My favourite was of course the passion fruit blend that cost 20bath for a Venti (Starbucks) size because they absolutely do not add water! Pure juice with ice – refreshing and heavenly! Not to mentioned, the BBQ corn that I absolutely love. Long, Big and Thick with aromatic burnt butter roasting each kernel to perfection. Go figure eh!

One thing I clearly remember about the night market was the crickets they serve as “garnishing” for some local delicacies. Another amazing thing you will notice is also that most of the sellers are doing part time, students and old folks who just entertain passerby with music.

BTW, please skip the Night Bazaar – nothing interesting except if you are looking for local art piece, head straight to this building next to the Plaza at Changklan Road.

BhuBing Palace

Interesting that this is just a garden, on a hill and filled with flowers – this is the only attraction I actually paid to enter. If you are not a fan of the sun, come in the morning. If you are not a fan of flowers, don’t come at all!

Landscape pretty much require a bit of sun tan (scorching in Chiang Mai at certain period, please check your weather), shades or sunny, a fan, bottle of water will help and a decent pair of long pants and covered shirt. If you think covering with scarf over tank tops or straps, forget it! The palace has royalties visiting and if you are an avid visitor of Thailand, you will know how respectful their royalties are. Thai generally are relaxed and easy going, but when it comes to their icon and worship, try not to go against the rule. So, cover up girls … and guys.


Food in the northern is also different. Apparently, they are famous for their curry – which I tried during my visit to Bhubing Palace. There are known as Khao Soi. Then there is my old-all time favourite, pork noodle or anything port for the matter of fact. Add it with a pinch of sugar, couple drops of fish oil and dry blended chilli … you get the umphh factor! Food prices in Chiang Mai are generally cheaper compared to Bangkok. At tourist area, I am taking about street food … you can get local Barley Yi Mai for 20baht, bowl of noodle around 25-35baht and for higher ends, you probably pay 2-3 times more of the street. If you really wanna “stinge” a couple of penny, adventurous trip down quiet and darker small alleys may get you a bowl of noodle at 10baht?

Of course one thing you cannot miss is their local coffee and tea, commonly known as Chai Yen (Ice Tea) Kafei Yen (Ice Coffee). You can basically get this anywhere with just 10-20baht, but if you are into wifi and sit back to relax like the average Starbuckers, you can try the local establishment Doi Tung founded by the Queen of Thailand to help the northern society. Think of it as a token for charity. Drinks generally ranges from around 60 baht to 120baht depending on what you ordered.

Massage and Spa!

If you ever go to Thailand, and miss this, Bugger you basically weren’t in Thailand at all! The only excuse for not going to one of the local massage is either you are injured or you hate people touching you. The massages are everywhere in CHX. You get them on the street, foot massages generally cost around 60baht for 30min, 100 baht for 60min. I meant there are really on the street, with stools and just an umbrella.

Then there are the mid ones, which I went for. Generally speaking massages can range from 200baht for traditional thai for 1 hour to 1300baht for a spa treatment that includes scrub, a massage and many others. Depending on which parlour you go to, you may even get to customise what you want, who you want, or even … how you want it. Giving a 10-20% tips to the masseur is a practise. In any event if you have gotten extra services, by that I meant any “extras” … you should rightfully give more. By the way, usually they do ask if you want them, like a 10min head massage :-P … if not … just politely say no and stick to the plan

Oh! One thing to look out for is also their oil massages. If you get to choose the oil you want, that is even more superb! This trip, I tried Thai massage, Oil Massage, Heat Oil Massage, Body Scrub and Milk Bath. To be honest, I loved it all.


Because Chang Mai is fairly small. Most of the time, you can still travel by foot. If not, get a Song Tao, kinda like a mini bus-van type who will shutter you with a very small fee. They are usually red in color. Cabs are also available. Of course, if you can bargain a cheap ride, Tut Tut is kinda fun too.

The experience was unforgettably relaxing and fruitful. Love the boutique hotel and definite miss waking up to birds chirping. I am sure Mr Watch still gets that ... jealousnya!

Will miss Banthai Village lots

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