We have been visiting Chiang Mai for many years now and have stayed in different parts of the city, however, we much prefer the atmosphere and eclectic vibe of the Old City.
In the few days at the beginning of our trip back in June, we spent time wandering around the four quarters of the Old City, exploring and deciding which area we preferred to stay in. We have always favoured the area near the Sunday Walking Street Market and have stayed in guest houses there many times, however, we have been really surprised at the high numbers of tourists in what is normally the quiet season. With this in mind, it is time for a change!
The north eastern corner of the Old City is where we now enjoy, close to Somphet Market for fresh fruit, lots of lovely quaint sois to wander and a new addition to the landscape, a ton of newly opened or refurbished cafes and coffee places. Our first guest house for this stay, was built back in the 70's, when land and space was plentiful, lovely Thai architecture, huge rooms, a pool, great view over the temple. It is on the back packer trail for sure, hence the noisy, transient groups of young people in their twenties, who trooped in and out of this place. We loved the location and enjoyed our stay there.
After a week, we were ready for a change, so time to move, but we needed a place that will store our luggage for us.. We have added Malaysia into the mix, so we were keen to find a great place we can return to, for the final few days of our trip. After a lot of research, we packed and moved to the charming Chedi Home, a beautiful little guest house out of the Old City but close enough to the areas we enjoy.
This place is fantastic, the rooms are small but impeccably clean with the most wonderful bed, the staff are the kindest people who work hard to please and the breakfasts are something that we have never experienced. Every morning they take our order, then they give us a traditional Thai treat to try, along with 2 plates overflowing with delicious tropical fruits. This is before our meal even comes out. We haven't needed lunch since we moved here!
We now have a number of favourite coffee haunts that we frequent each morning and we are continually adding to our list. We have spent our time browsing in small shops and boutiques and revisiting old favourites. Mr Wombat has a penchant for hand made leather products and we will often stop and browse as we wander around, as some young entrepreneurs set themselves up with little roadside stalls.
When we move to a new guest house, the first thing we do is to wander around the adjoining sois to locate a local laundry. We did this the other day, found one that charged just 30THB per kilo of dirty laundry, perfect. We headed back there to drop off our bag of clothes and was greeted by a friendly young lady who spoke almost no English. No problem for us! She weighed our bag, 1.8kg and she indicated to come back the next morning. She didn't give us any kind of receipt or take our details. We returned at the set time, washing was still drying. Come back later that afternoon. We asked her what time she closed- 8pm was the answer. Sweet.
We wandered back up around 6 pm to find a sign on her gate saying she was closed. Hmm....... pretty sure she said open until 8pm.??? We called out and her Dad then spent time trying to find our laundry. After some searching and phone calls, laundry was located and paid for, no English spoken and off we went. I still think taking our name may have helped the process!
We have spent time visiting some of the Wats and temples that we haven't visited on previous visits. There are so many in this city and they are places of great reverence and spirituality. The view from our previous window was over the beautiful Wat Chian, the oldest Wat in the city. The view from our current guesthouse is over an ancient chedi, small but impressive. This chedi appears to be hundreds of years old and sits on the intersection of laneways, but sadly, no one seems to know its name or its history. This constantly baffles us about Asia.
Whilst we had decided not to visit either of the famous weekend Walking Street Markets, we did weaken and found ourselves flagging down a songthaew and heading to the Saturday Walking Street. It is set down in the Wulai Street area, near the Silver Temple. My advice is to go early and get out before you are so overwhelmed with the heat and the crowds. The Saturday market still has a good amount of locally produced goods and craft, therefore making it our favourite of the 2 markets.
Apart from food and eating which is our favourite past time in Asia, foot massages are our next favourite form of relaxation and we have found some great and not so great places over the years.
Lila Thai Massage is the pick of quality massage salons, but we have also located a couple of exceptional little places as well.
Worowat Market is another 'must do' and whilst I have seen this area change a lot recently, it is still worth a browse. It is a market for the locals and only a few years ago, we would be there and not see another westerner, however that has changed and I think that is reflected in the prices of goods. It was incredibly cheap to buy virtually anything here and we would stock up on kitchen ware, household goods, purses, bags, shoes and belts, along with all kinds of unusual things. Material is particularly cheap and the area specialises in Indian cottons. I have found prices have increased and the tourist numbers have also. We have visited twice on this trip and will probably go back again before we leave.
We have been enjoying some down time, not always out wandering around but relaxing with a book and a drink and even watching some Netflix.
We had a day out at Maya Mall which is the newest and fanciest shopping precinct in CM, lots of bling and mirrors and a myriad of expensive but interesting stores. It was nice to be cool in air conditioning for a few hours, and we did enjoy some western food for lunch, however the highlight was going to the cinema. Yep, beautiful cinema, tickets were either 160 or 190 THB, depending where you sit, of course we were too stingy to pay too much for a cinema visit, so opted for the cheaper seats. They ended up being close to the front, wasn't a problem but will splash out on the dearer tickets if we return. We saw Dunkirk, really enjoyed it but note to self- bring ear plugs as the sound is so loud. It was a really nice day out and a pleasant change. Tomorrow we are heading to Baan Tawai, the Handicrafts Village.