Wow. Traveling around Southeast Asia has been truly special, and also a complete whirlwind. We're currently in Vietnam, but I've been dying to share our travels in Northern Thailand with you. The people there are just the friendliest that I've ever met - everyone is so eager to help and expects nothing in return.
We started our time in Northern Thailand in Chiang Mai. This small city has many tourists, but for good reason. We stayed in the old quarter which is full of food markets, fruit shake stands, temples, thai massages, and wonderful people. The weather was warm, and plants pour out of every building. If you'd like to visit on a budget, we stayed at the Chada House which cost us about $15 a night for a room with a/c. They charge per person, so if you're a solo traveler it will cost half that. It was clean, had good shower pressure (which is rare!) and also had strong wifi (also rare!).
While we were there, we decided to take a Thai cooking class. We learned how to make Pad Thai, Spring rolls, Papaya Salad, Mango Sticky Rice, and mix up our own Curries. Our main takeaway was this: all Thai food has fish sauce, oyster sauce, and about 3 tablespoons of sugar. Lots and lots of sugar. Maybe not the healthiest, but it sure was delicious.
The center of the old quarter also hosts a nightly food market where you can get your fill of delicious street foods and pay only a couple of dollars for a great meal. If you want to sit at the tables and chairs, they belong to individual stands - so make sure to order from one of them if you want to sit! Our first night we had to just walk and eat, which is really great too if your food choices don't need utensils.
However, if you're really craving a restaurant, we loved Dash!. We had dinner and cocktails there with new friends - try the Koh Soi and the Pad See Mau.
You won't have to make much effort to find temples in Chiang Mai, since there are over 300 of them. We wandered into many in between conversations with locals who were bursting with recommendations for us.
One recommendation we ended up taking was going to get suits made at a local tailor shop called Supreme Collection. After we had two custom suits made for Rich, our trip was transformed when they offered us a free driver to take us to Doi Suthep the following day. They also included a few free shirts and a couple of ties with the order. They were so friendly, and professional - I highly recommend them!
While in Chiang Mai, there are also tons of adventures to go on. We decided to take two days and go west to Mae Win, Mae Wang and stay on an elephant sanctuary where we rode elephants, hiked, and went bamboo rafting. That trip was so special that I'm going to share it as a whole separate post with all of the details!
On our way out of Chiang Mai, we made a quick stop to see the White Temple in Chiang Rai. It was really very cool - but not quite as authentic as the others we had seen previously. It was made it the 90's and really reminded us of being in Disneyland!
Our last stop in Thailand was in Chiang Khong. We stayed here just for one night to catch the slow boat to Laos the following day. It was really a great slow paced way to travel to the next country and meet a lot of new friends. I'll be writing a post on that soon as well.
We loved our time in Thailand and were sad to leave - I hope we'll be back someday!