My Thailand trip kicked off in Chiang Mai. This city is located in Northern Thailand, and was built in 1296. Due to its proximity to the Ping River it was of significant importance for trade between southern China and Burma. Nowadays is the second largest city in Thailand after Bangkok and number 24 on the “25 Best Destinations in the World” list by Trip Advisor (2014)
I arrived pretty early on a Sunday, and my friend that I would be travelling with was arriving around 10 pm. So I basically had the whole day to myself.
The first order of business was finding my hostel: “Big and O’s house” . I loved this hostel, the owners Big and O (yes those are their english names) are super friendly and will help you with anything you need. The beds are wide and comfortable and the place is kept clean. It’s one of those hostels that has that “home” feel and even though there isn’t a big common area , you can still meet and hang out with other travellers.
After settling in, with a map in hand I set off to explore town.
I first visited the “Wat Chedi Luang” temple, which was built in 1441 and where the Emerald Buddha used to reside in . This Buddha can now be found in Bangkok’s Wat Phra Kaew temple. (A ” Chedi ” or Buddhist Stupa is a structure made to contain sacred relics.)
Then it was time to hit the famous Sunday Night Market which takes place in downtown Chiang Mai right in the centre of the walled city area. Once you squeeze your way in through Tha Pae Gate, get ready to shop and eat even if you were planning on “just looking around”. You will find all sorts of beautiful clothes and crafts , delicious food and even a foot massage area. The best part is , you can bargain! At the beginning I was a little unsure about bargaining given the fact that I found things were already pretty cheap , but once you start doing it , it’s actually kind of fun.
I’m not a big shopper, but this time I did some damage. I soon realized I had to get out of there before spending too much,everything was just so beautiful. So after shopping and enjoying quite a few dishes, I got out of the market area and made my way to a quieter place, got myself a delicious passion fruit ice cream ( I LOVE me some passion fruit), and enjoyed a musician playing 90’s jams while chatting up with a fellow traveller. This is also the first time I tried the famous “Chang” beer. From what I was told , this beer is pretty famous all around South East Asia, and its alcohol percentage is not regulated, so it can be anywhere between 6 to 12%! It’s not the best beer I’ve had, but it’s cheap and if you happen to get the 12% then lucky you! :p
In case you are not in Chiang Mai on a Sunday , don’t worry you can still hit the Night Bazaar that takes place every night from 7pm to midnight on a different part of town. It’s still within walking distance from the downtown area and as we walked there we realized this was the fancy part of town since all the nicer and luxe 5 star hotels are located here. But the Night Bazaar is still as cheap as the Sunday Night one and for the most part you will be able to find the exact same things in both.
To end this great first day in Thailand, I got back to the hostel were my friend was waiting for me. We met in India during the “Know India Programme” back in 2011 and I hadn’t seen her since. Four years later and our friendship remains the same 🙂