Taking advantage of the long weekend, T and I headed to Chiang Mai for our first big exploration outside of Bangkok.
You’re probably most familiar with Chiang Mai if you’ve see those cute videos of the lady who gets sat on by a baby elephant playing in the mud. We promised our children we wouldn’t go to the elephant preserve without them though so we saved it for the next visit at Christmas.
Instead we set off to see some of the multitude of Wats and shop till we literally dropped.
There are over 300 wats, or temples, dotting the area so we only managed to see four on the first day.
We grabbed a bright red songthaew, taxi/bus, negotiated a round trip for about $18 and headed up the long steep hill to the west of the city. The view was amazing and we passed lots of tropical forest, waterfalls and much more serious pilgrims making their way on foot or bicycle.
Once you reach the parking area at the top you will be greater by the requisite food and souvenir vendors many selling clothing and jewelry of the traditional hill tribes of the area.
If you visit, this is a great place to stop for coffee grown in the region.
The Doi Suthep is beautiful as it glistens gold in the sun and bells chime on the breeze sending their prayers up to the heavens.
For more details check out T’s history of the wat here.
Once back in Chiang Mai we headed through the gates of the old city. Here we visited Wat Phra Singh with beautiful temples grounds , Wat Chedi Luang where the emerald Buddha was once housed (its in Bangkok now) and my favorite of all of them Wat Phan Tao a beautiful teak temple with shining dark wood, golden statues and fluttering white prayer flags.
Our evenings were filled with night markets. If you know me you know I love to shop but even I was forced to call uncle at some point. The weekend markets are studded with vendor after vendor lining the streets and just when you think you’ve seen everything someone manages to offer something you haven’t seen before. I managed to find some treasures, including a new bedspread for our guest room handmade by one of the local tribes and and I shocking red elephant painting for over our bed.
Sunday we were invited to join some of T’s coworkers for a nice hike in the hills along some waterfalls. It was beautiful and great to see some of the countryside. It was not great to see some of the spiders, at least one of which was the size of my fist. Fortunately I managed not to swear in front of the children we were hiking with when I spotted the first one.
Our final morning we indulged in some leisurely cafe time at one of Chiang Mai’s awesome coffee shops and let some little old ladies with very strong hands at the spa work out the muscles that were aching from all that walking.
It was a lovely weekend and we can’t wait to go back!