We stayed at The Le – Meridian, which is one of the good hotels in Chiang Mai(highly recommended) and they were nice enough to upgrade us to the mountain view room(Even though there was so much haze the first day ,that there was practically no view )
Where: ThailandWhat to do: Get a glimpse into the city's soul by heading to Chiang Mai's oldest public market, Warorot. For an enriching shopping experience, visit the Walking Street markets that comes to life only during the weekends. Pay your tributes to some of Chiang Mai's most revered temples, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phra Singh and Wat Phan Tso. Taste all the layers of Thai cuisine in a single bowl of gap kow at Talat Thanin.
Slowly moving from Thailand’s present (Bangkok) to its past, Chiang Mai was the cultural and religious center of ancient Thailand. Its ornate, historical structures still boast of the opulence that the Thai land inhabited and still inhabits. Luxury in Chiang Mai radiates from its spirituality, from its splendid fit-for-the-kings Wats. Travelling to Chiang Mai is like exploring the true soul of Thailand. It's surreal experiences like painting elephants and ornate temples are some of the most interesting things to do in Thailand.
We booked an early morning elephant and rafting tour. It was nothing spectacular for us. We had pretty much done most of the stuff back home in India. The elephant ride part of the tour was fairly straightforward while the rafting part was horrendous. With the waters running so low, there was barely any rafting that we could do. The entire time we were stuck in between the exposed rocks trying to move ahead. Overall the tour was a bad experience.
I met up with a friend of mine for this second part of the trip. We took an early flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.Chiang Mai is a beautiful, quiet town in the northern part of Thailand. We went during the off season, so it was much quieter than we had expected. Places shut down by 12 pm. Chilling at the hostel and seeing temples spread out across town were our best bets.We had earlier planned on staying at chiang mai for a couple of nights and then go to Pai (which is another small hill station), but we decided against that. It was probably the wrong season for the Northern part of Thailand. The numerous rivers and waterfalls around Chiang Mai and Pai were running dry with very low water levels (dry season).We chilled at the hostel with a bunch of other travellers and enjoyed the food. I would advise everyone to try Northern Thai food. It is very different to the normal Thai that we are all used to (only for Non vegetarians though). BEWARE: Dont even mention spicy ;)
Culture: Chiang Mai (3 days…. or a month!)
Catch one of the many night trains that leave Bangkok’s train station and tuck yourself into a bottom bunk with some snacks for the night. When you step off the train in Chiang Mai, it’ll be like a breath of fresh air from Bangkok’s hectic humidity, and you’ll feel a zen calmness sink into your bones. The cultural activities are endless here, but have a gander around the epic Night Bazaar and eat some uber cheap noodle soup at a street stall before catching an authentic Muay Thai Boxing match.
Pop into the zoo to see some Pandas and just generally wander around the greenness, but do prioritise a trip up to the magnificent hilltop temple of Doi Suthep. If you’re feeling daring, drive a scooter up the winding hill or take a Songthaew (pick-up truck taxi) with a bicycle and endure a hair-raising ride back down to town. See more of our tips for seeing Chiang Mai.
TIGER KINGDOM: I have done both Tiger Kingdom and Tiger Temple and would defiantly recommend Tiger Kingdom as the one you should do. The tigers are so well looked after, they are more lively and you can get your pictures taken with them when they are alert and playing. Tiger Kingdom has 5 types of tigers…. smallest, small1, small2, medium and big. Each type is around 500b (10 pound) or you can do them all for 1900b (Just under 40 pound) and if you want you can hire a professional photographer for 300b (6 pound) extra and I would DEFIANTLY recommend this!
FLIGHT OF THE GIBBONS: An action packed day of flying though the tree tops of Chiang Mai’s forest on zip lines and abseils. There are a couple of companies which do this however the Flight of The Gibbons takes you to see the wild gibbons (that’s a type of monkey fyi) and gives you an amazing 3 course meal with live jungle music! It really is nonstop and is ‘Thailand’s number one tourist attraction’ the costs can vary depending on where you get the tickets from but it is roughly 2800b and is pretty much a full day adventure!
Chiang Mai is called ‘the rose of the north’ and is 700km from the capital city of Bangkok. Despite being the 2nd largest city in Thailand, its population comes in at about 200,000 while Bangkok is 9 million. This makes it a very lovely and comfortable city to go to.
Where: Laos What to do: Hike to Mount Phou Si, then take the steep staircase to the Wat Chom Si shrine that overlooks the network of rivers flowing through the city. Have a French style breakfast with delicious coffee at Joma Cafe, a popular local cafe chain in Laos. Wake up early to witness the fantastic morning market in its full fervour. Head to any of the many natural attractions, such as Kuang Si Falls, Tat Sae Waterfalls or Pak Ou Caves.Read More
Where: Laos What to do: Hike to Mount Phou Si, then take the steep staircase to the Wat Chom Si shrine that overlooks the network of rivers flowing through the city. Have a French style breakfast with delicious coffee at Joma Cafe, a popular local cafe chain in Laos. Wake up early to witness the fantastic morning market in its full fervour. Head to any of the many natural attractions, such as Kuang Si Falls, Tat Sae Waterfalls or Pak Ou Caves.
If I would have to pick one city in Laos that was my favorite than it would be Luang Prabang. Without a doubt.
Downside: it’s fairly touristic, which is what happens if a city is pretty and has all sort of fun things to do. I thought I would list a few things to do when in Luang Prabang
1.Breakfast at Joma cafe; French style bakery with good coffee. There are more locations around town and they have them in Phnom Penh as well.
2.Rent a bike; there are plenty of bike rental shops around town, so pick a good one with bikes that look decent. The town is perfect for a leisurely bike ride and the little breeze will be most welcome I can assure you!
3.Morning Market :The morning market in Luang Prabang is fantastic or at least I think so, but then I am a market junkie. I don’t like touristic markets with all kinds of junk but if you do then you should definitely visit the night market as that is mostly touristy stuff but fun to walk through as well. For a more authentic experience go to the morning market and browse around the endless lines of stalls and try and guess some of the ingredients… (we saw fried rats! Yuck!)
This is a UNESCO World Heritage City. This is one of the most scenic and culturally rich parts of Laos. You will be welcomed by some of the most exquisite country roads to feel closer to the true roots of Laos. We went to a local village for lunch and had some of the amazing fish delicacies packed with herbs and vegetables. The beauty of this place lies in its natural charms. I would recommend you to sign up for some cycling trip across this town. We made some quick stops at handicraft and pottery shops, Kuang Si Falls and ended the trip watching the sun descend in the Mekong River.
We started exploring the historic land of Luang Prabang along Sisavangvong St., the heart of the old quarter, and further proceeded towards the National Museum, which was set in the former Royal Palace. Built in 1904, the palace is an amalgamation of Laotian and French influences and houses many royal treasures. The most important item is the solid gold Pha Bang Buddha.
After an exciting encounter with history, we moved towards the center of Luang Prabang, exploring the narrow alleys that criss-cross through the town, stopping to enjoy some views over the mighty Mekong River. After an exciting day, we returned to our hotel 'Villa Maly' which was a 4-star accommodation.
The Xishuangbanna Region, in the deep south of Yunnan, is next to the Myanmar (Burma) and Laos borders. This fascinating cross-cultural area has a real laid-back feel to it and it's easy to slowly visit small towns; the Dai Buddhist temples and surrounding villages of the Hani, Lisu, Yao, Jinuo people. Xishuangbanna Region is home to many endemic species of plants and wildlife and has an ever diminishing number of wild tigers, leopards, elephants and golden-haired monkeys. We weren't fortunate enough to encounter any wild creatures face to face and we chose not to pay great sums for a 'wild' tourist experience.Read More
The Xishuangbanna Region, in the deep south of Yunnan, is next to the Myanmar (Burma) and Laos borders. This fascinating cross-cultural area has a real laid-back feel to it and it's easy to slowly visit small towns; the Dai Buddhist temples and surrounding villages of the Hani, Lisu, Yao, Jinuo people. Xishuangbanna Region is home to many endemic species of plants and wildlife and has an ever diminishing number of wild tigers, leopards, elephants and golden-haired monkeys. We weren't fortunate enough to encounter any wild creatures face to face and we chose not to pay great sums for a 'wild' tourist experience.